|The women play at 5:30 and the men play at 7:30 in Monday's Augusta-Aiken double header!|
The winner of Monday's Augusta-Aiken Showdown will be the Peach Belt's LeaderThe Peach Belt Conference eastern division race is tightening. Augusta, Aiken, and Pembroke remain at the top. And Armstrong and Lander are surging. The first three weeks of February will decide which two teams will host the west's third and fourth seeds in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament; which four teams will qualify for the tournament; and which will be left out of the post season altogether.
The first main event is tonight's Augusta-USC Aiken showdown at Christenberry Fieldhouse (Augusta's home):
Despite losses by both teams last Wednesday, the Jaguars and Pacers are rolling, each having won 8 of their last 9 games. Monday's matchup features many shot makers who have scorched the nets in recent games. For example, Augusta's Keshun Sherrill and Aiken's Mark Matthews have each been named the PBC Player of the Week twice this season.
Sherrill, the current leader in the conference player of the year discussion, averages 23 points per game while shooting 47% from the field, 40% from deep, and 91% from the free throw line. In the most recent Jaguar home game, Sherrill passed the 2,000 career point mark, becoming only the second player in conference history to achieve that feat:
Matthews, a transfer from UNC Wilmington who averages 15 points and 9 rebounds per game for USC Aiken, won his player of the week awards consecutively in the two most recent weeks:
. @PacerAthletics 's Mark Matthews was just named the @PeachBelt Player of the Week for the 2nd straight time: https://t.co/0VnEUK2nSM pic.twitter.com/U8Pm9fffvO— Chad Cook's AugBball (@AugBball) January 23, 2017
Sherrill and Matthews have capable help.
Tyvez Monroe has scored in double figures in each of the last 6 games, and his 24 points against Armstrong State in Wednesday's road loss led the team:
Tyvez Monroe and Keshun Sherrill scored 13 points each and the @AugustaJags lead Flagler 36-20 @ the break. Tune in: https://t.co/sFzgljPD3x pic.twitter.com/4AbvvV8pqR— Chad Cook's AugBball (@AugBball) January 19, 2017
And division I transfers Henry Bolton III (Utah State) and Jalin Barnes (Sam Houston State) combine with Matthews to form a potent Pacers scoring attack. Bolton scored 29 in Aiken's loss to Lander Wednesday:
And Barnes was the hero in the Pacers' recent win over Pembroke:
With Augusta, Aiken, and Pembroke bunched at the top of the standings, and with Lander (2 straight wins) and Armstrong (3 straight wins) threatening to make a run, this week's PBC East action will go a long way toward telling how the post season positioning will look. And no game will be more highly anticipated than Monday's rivalry game between Augusta and Aiken!