T-Ducks enter basketball conference tournament winning four of last five games

The Richland College basketball team had its four-game winning streak snapped Saturday at home in an overtime loss to Brookhaven in the regular season finale.

With the loss, the T-Ducks enter the Metro-Athletic Conference tournament as the No. 5 seed and will play Lamar State at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Brookhaven College.

Richland and Lamar State split their two games this season, with the T-Ducks recently getting the better of Lamar with an 83-60 home victory on Feb. 16.

Fittingly, entering Saturday’s game Richland coach Jon Felmet said the loss earlier in the season to Lamar is what helped turn his team’s season around.

“I would say the turning point of our season was either the first Lamar State game or the first Brookhaven game,” Felmet said leading up to Saturday’s regular season finale. “The Lamar game gave us some time [six hours] on the way home to think about the loss. After the Brookhaven game, the guys talked to me about lightening up on practice, etc.  I didn’t think it had worked, but on the four-game win streak they seem more fresh and rested.”

But what will it take for Richland to be successful in the conference tournament, when one loss will end the T-Ducks’ season and goal of playing in the national tournament in Delhi, New York.

“Mostly luck,” Felmet said. “The team that happens to be playing the best during that time will be successful.”

Despite the overtime loss, Richland is still playing its best basketball of the season.

Prior to Saturday’s overtime loss, Richland’s margin of victory during the four-game winning streak was 18 points, including two victories by more than 20.

“It’s amazing the way this team has come together and finished out this part of our season,” Felmet said. “I’ve said this plenty of other times but I really didn’t know what kind of team I had put together until the second semester. These are great guys. They continue to work hard for me and I’m blessed with that. I’m really proud of these guys.”

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Aside from their play on the court, Felmet’s players are excelling in the classroom as well.

As a team, the T-Ducks had a 3.0 grade point average in the fall, with Keith Wright receiving the Chancellor’s Award for having a 3.75 or better, Tony Bishop and Curtis Thompson receiving President academic awards for having a 3.5 or better and Jeff Steinbaugh getting the Commissioners Award for having a 3.25 or better.