The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

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March 18, 2014

SHSU BASKETBALL — Bearkats get another shot

With another chance to compete, Bearkats are ready to play more ball

HUNTSVILLE — The Sam Houston State men’s basketball team made tremendous strides this season.

The Bearkats improved from 17 wins a year ago to a 23-10 overall record and a Southland Conference tournament championship game appearance against rival Stephen F. Austin.

Despite losing in the finals, Sam Houston still has some basketball left to play.

On Sunday, the Kats accepted an invitation to the College Insider Tournament and host Alabama State tonight at 7 p.m., at Johnson Coliseum.  

“We’re really excited. We didn’t think we would ever get to play on that court again so we’re just excited to get another opportunity,” senior guard Will Bond said. “I’ve had a little time to think about it. Obviously we did better than we did last year so we definitely had to look at that, going from winning 17 games last year to winning 23 games now and hopefully a few more.”

The CIT was not on Sam Houston’s list of goals at the beginning of the season. Head coach Jason Hooten knew the Kats had enough talent to make a decent run at a conference championship, specifically in the league tournament, which would have given Sam Houston an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The Kats were just one win away from achieving that goal, but Hooten said Sunday night that simply getting a chance to play past the conference tournament was a credit to what the Kats’ accomplished this season.

Senior Nathaniel Mason  said dedication along with a maturation process allowed the Kats to be in this position.

“We’re just looking forward to being able to keep competing with the team,” Mason said. “We’ve really grown in the last few weeks, really the last month, we’ve grown and bonded. Our chemistry is just getting better and better on both sides of the ball.

“I’m just glad my college career is not overwith. I didn’t want to go out with Saturday’s loss.”

Alabama State finished 19-12 overall and 12-6 in SWAC competition.  

“Just from what we’ve seen in the film room today, they look pretty good,” Bond said. “The first thing (Hooten) told us was not to underestimate them as a SWAC team. They play really hard. They play defense, execute on offense well. So we’ve got to put our best foot forward so we can come out with a win.”

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