Blue Lights Forfeits, Will Not Participate in Tournament

Blue Lights College, the third seed in the 2024 NSAC Men’s Basketball Tournament beginning tomorrow, informed the conference on Thursday morning that it will not be making the trip to Newport News due to institutional reasons.

“I am extremely disappointed,” said conference commissioner Mike Davis. “Blue Lights is the only conference team to have beaten Apprentice in the past two years, and they bring an exciting brand of basketball. Their absence will be felt. I’m particularly saddened that their outstanding players will not get the opportunity to battle for a championship. I am sorry they have not been set up for success.”

The Thoroughbreds’ scheduled quarterfinal game against Central International, scheduled for Friday at 6:00 pm, will be considered a forfeit, and the Cardinals will automatically advance to face Apprentice in Saturday’s semifinals.

Friday’s other quarterfinal, Atlantis versus Mid-Atlantic Christian, will go on as scheduled at 4:00 pm. All games will take place at the Apprentice Athletic Center in Newport News, Virginia.

Becheli Named NSAC Coach of the Year

Lighthouse Christian coach Adjalma “Vando” Becheli has been named as the 2023-24 New South Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year.

Becheli led the Makos to the regular season championship in their first year of conference play with a 3-1 NSAC record and 18-4 overall. In their first two seasons as a program, Becheli has guided LCC to an overall record of 33-9.

Becheli hails from Brazil where he played and coached professional basketball. His professional career in Brazil spanned 13 years that included “Coach of the Year” recognition, the youngest in Brazilian basketball history to be so honored.

His first U.S. collegiate head coaching job was at Utah State Eastern, guiding the men’s basketball program from 2012 to 2020. He left Utah for the warmth of Florida and a position at Florida Coastal Prep, a program he still contributes to while leading the Makos. He also has coached and guided several players from Brazil and elsewhere to the U.S., including players to the NBA.

Congratulations to Vando Becheli, the NSAC Coach of the Year!

Makos’ Brown Leads All-Conference Lineup

Eddie Brown of Lighthouse Christian College was the top vote-getter among New South men’s basketball players and has been named the 2023-24 NSAC Player of the Year.

The 6-0 sophomore from Pensacola, Florida averaged 30.5 ppg for the season and chalked 39, 30 and 30 points in a three-games-in-three-days span to help the Makos claim the regular season title.

Sixteen players in all make up the All-NSAC squad this year as voted by the coaches. Congratulations to each one on a job well done!

All-NSAC FIrst Team:

  • Kalil Baker, Blue Lights
  • Sam Benton, Jr., Blue Lights
  • Eddie Brown, Lighthouse
  • Chayse Culpepper, Lighthouse
  • Karree Smith, Apprentice
  • Joshua Tyler, MACU
  • Adrion Wall, Apprentice
  • Wol Yak, Blue Lights

All-NSAC Second Team:

  • Houston Culpepper, Lighthouse
  • Tyric Francois, Atlantis
  • Avin Hawkins, Apprentice
  • Donovan Means, Apprentice
  • Daniel Poole, Lighthouse
  • Ty Rias, CIC
  • Noah Richardson-Keys, MACU
  • Talik Totten, MACU

Image courtesy Lighthouse Athletics

Nineteen Student-Athletes Named to All-Academic Team

The New South Athletic Conference is pleased to recognize the student-athletes that have excelled both on the court and in the classroom. This season, 19 men’s basketball players are being honored for achieving an overall GPA of 3.0 or greater.

“As a former college instructor, I take academics as seriously as I do athletics,” said NSAC commissioner Mike Davis. “That’s why I’m proud to honor these 19 student-athletes for their achievements. Balancing schoolwork with a full schedule of practices, games, and travel is no easy feat. Kudos to each of them.”

Apprentice School:

  • Clifton Goode
  • Avin Hawkins
  • Chris Hinmon
  • Climente Riddick

Atlantis University:

  • Samuel Jiménez
  • Héctor Feliciano
  • José Rosario
  • Terrance Williams

Blue Lights College:

  • Jaye Bookhart
  • Jacob Franklin 
  • Jaden Robinson-Dockery

Lighthouse Christian College:

  • Akok Chan
  • Houston Culpepper
  • Christian McGahan

Mid-Atlantic Christian University:

  • Sam Boyd
  • Dre’Shaun Brown
  • Elijah Cox
  • Luke Garrett
  • Geoffrey Wellons

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

Lighthouse Claims Top Seed for NSAC Tournament

After sweeping three conference games in three days last week, Lighthouse Christian College took top honors in a coaches’ poll and will be the number one seed in the New South Men’s Basketball Tournament beginning March 1 in Newport News, Virginia.

The Makos entered the week 0-1 in conference play but peaked at the right time to win three road games over Blue Lights, CIC, and Apprentice. The performance put them atop the standings with a .750 winning percentage in conference and earned the respect of the league coaches.

Those coaches followed suit in voting the seedings to mirror the final standings:

  1. Lighthouse
  2. Apprentice
  3. Blue Lights
  4. MACU
  5. Atlantis
  6. CIC

Thus on Friday March 1, MACU will face Atlantis at 4:00 pm. Lighthouse will await the winner on Saturday at 2:00 pm. In Friday’s other quarterfinal, Blue Lights and CIC will tangle at 6:00 pm with the winner advancing to face Apprentice Saturday at 4:00 pm. The championship will take place Sunday at 2:00pm. All games will be played at the Apprentice Athletic Center in Newport News, Virginia.

Find the tournament bracket here.

Lighthouse Holds off Apprentice to Take Regular Season Title 76-73

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – Lighthouse Christian led wire to wire but had to fend off a late Apprentice rally to claim a 76-73 victory and the NSAC men’s basketball regular season championship Thursday night.

The Makos (17-4 overall, 3-1 NSAC) led by as many as 18 in the second half, but the USCAA top-ranked Builders would not go quietly. Apprentice (19-5, 5-2) clawed all the way back to cut the lead to two but could get no closer.

LCC jumped out to a big 21-7 lead just six minutes into the game before Apprentice settled in, cutting the lead to as few as one on two occasions before halftime. Lighthouse came out again in the second half and pushed the lead out to 18 before the Builders’ defense woke up and allowed them to have a chance to tie the game with five seconds left, but the shot bounced off the rim and the Makos clinched the regular season crown.

The win was the third conference victory in as many days for Lighthouse and their ninth straight overall.

For Apprentice, the loss snapped a 19-game home winning streak that dated back over a year ago to early February 2023.

Eddie Brown for Lighthouse had a game-high 30 points. Avin Hawkins led the Builders with 23 points while Adrion Wall added 12.

Karree Smith surpassed 1000 career points in his collegiate career with his first basket of the night. He finished with 15 points in 25 minutes of action. He has now scored 962 points while at Apprentice during his three years in Newport News.

NSAC teams now await the results of a coaches poll to determine seedings for the conference tournament, slated for March 1-3 at Apprentice. The results will be announced Tuesday, February 20.

Walker McCrary at Apprentice Athletics contributed to this story.

Makos Win Sets Up Regular Season Title Match Tonight

RICHMOND, Va. – Lighthouse Christian College guard Eddie Brown poured in 30 points Wednesday afternoon in leading the Makos to their second NSAC win in less than 24 hours, 73-41, over Central International College.

The win for Lighthouse (16-4 overall, 2-1 NSAC) sets up a winner-take-all game Thursday night in Newport News, Virginia when Apprentice (19-4, 5-1) hosts the Makos. The contest is the final regular season game of the year in conference play, and the winner will claim the New South Conference regular season men’s basketball championship based on winning percentage.

While the winner will get bragging rights, it will be up to league coaches to decide who will get the top seed in the NSAC Men’s Basketball Tournament. The coaches will be polled following tonight’s regular season finale to determine seeding for all six teams. The tournament will run March 1-3 in Newport News.

Lighthouse Defense Shuts Down BLC 104-85

APEX, N.C. – Lighthouse Christian used its height and length to frustrate Blue Lights and take a convincing 104-85 NSAC win Tuesday night.

LCC (15-4 overall, 1-1 NSAC) converted Thoroughbreds’ turnovers into points with tenacious defense while dominating the boards. The Makos led 51-47 at the half before BLC trimmed the margin to two, but that is as close as they would get.

The Makos’ Eddie Brown led the scoring with 39 points including 12 points from beyond the arc. Kalil Baker scored 25 for the Thoroughbreds.

BLC (12-6, 5-2) travels to NJCAA number 13 Sandhills on Saturday. Lighthouse faces Central International College this afternoon in Richmond, Virginia, then travels to Newport News to take on USCAA top-ranked Apprentice Thursday night.

Apprentice Holds On for 85-80 Win Over MACU

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – The Apprentice School men’s basketball team found themselves in a battle Tuesday night and ended up on the winning side of an 85-80 matchup against Mid-Atlantic Christian in New South Athletic Conference play.

The top-ranked Builders (19-4 overall, 5-1 NSAC) came out red hot to take an 11-2 lead early before the Mustangs settled in. Apprentice took a 12-point lead at 29-17 with just over eight minutes to go, but MACU answered with a 12-0 run to tie the game up before taking their first lead moments later at 30-29.

After AS retook the lead and held it at halftime, 42-35, the Builders and Mustangs traded blows throughout the entire second half. MACU (8-16, 3-4) cut the lead down to as few as two with 34 seconds to go, but could get no closer as the Builders held on for the win.

Karree Smith finished with 20 points to lead the way for Apprentice, while Adrion Wall scored all 15 of his points in the second half. Donovan Means had 11 points, and Kelby Saunders, Jr., finished the night with 10.

The win, coupled with Blue Lights’ loss Tuesday to Lighthouse Christian, puts Apprentice in sole possession atop the NSAC standings. The Builders will wrap up NSAC play Thursday as they host Lighthouse at 7 p.m.

Story and image courtesy gobuilders.com

Regular Season Title on the Line This Week

The NSAC men’s basketball regular season concludes this week, but the regular season title is far from decided! And ironically, Lighthouse Christian College will have a say in it all.

The Makos, who joined the league this year and have played just one NSAC game thus far, begin a three-games-in-three-days conference road trip tonight Blue Lights College. If BLC (12-5 overall, 5-1 NSAC) wins, the Thoroughbreds will clinch at least a share of the title. A Blue Lights win coupled with a Builders loss to Mid-Atlantic Christian or Lighthouse would give the Horses the top spot outright.

Apprentice and MACU tip tonight as well. A win by the Builders (18-4, 4-1) coupled by a win over Lighthouse on Thursday would secure at least a tie with BLC for top honors. Those two wins and a Thoroughbred loss would mean Apprentice takes the title.

The unlikely wildcard in all of this is the Makos. If Lighthouse (14-4, 0-1) defeats both BLC and AS, as well as CIC on Wednesday afternoon, the Makos would have the best conference winning percentage (0.750) and claim the regular season championship.

Of course, this is all for bragging rights only, as the seedings for the conference tournament will be determined by a coaches poll following Thursday’s game. Those seedings will be announced early next week.

Image courtesy Craig Green/BLC Media