Home streak sparks Jags' seniors

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His jersey is already retired, but Augusta State senior Ben Madgen will play one more game at Christenberry Fieldhouse tonight.

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Augusta State senior Fred Brathwaite (left) has lost just once at Christenberry Fieldhouse in two seasons with the Jags; his final home game is tonight.  Michael Holahan/Staff
Michael Holahan/Staff
Augusta State senior Fred Brathwaite (left) has lost just once at Christenberry Fieldhouse in two seasons with the Jags; his final home game is tonight.

The All-American guard and his four senior teammates will suit up for their final home game when the fourth-ranked Jaguars play host to Montevallo in the Southeast Regional final at 7 p.m. The winner of this contest will advance to the Division II Elite Eight next week in Springfield, Mass.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," said Madgen, the Southeast Region Player of the Year. "We've had so many great games over the past four years. We've had a lot of fun out there, and we've left everything out on the floor every time. So I can't see why (tonight) is going to be any different."

The Jaguars are bidding for their third consecutive regional championship and another trip back to the Bay State. The past two years, Augusta State has advanced to the national championship game and the Final Four.

The Jaguars will try to improve to 110-22 since the arrival of Madgen and senior point guard Daniel Dixon. In the Dixon-Madgen era, the Jaguars are 56-4 at home, including a current 30-game winning streak at Christenberry Fieldhouse.

Forwards Greg Hire and Fred Brathwaite, who entered before last season, are 58-8 overall and 31-1 at home.

This season, center Alex Smith's lone year, Augusta State is 28-3 overall and 17-0 at Christenberry Fieldhouse.

Tonight's Sweet Sixteen game will feature two Peach Belt teams for the third consecutive year. In 2008, Augusta State avenged a loss to Clayton State in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament. In 2009, the Jaguars avenged a regular season to rival USC Aiken.

Now, Augusta State faces a Montevallo team that bounced it from the Peach Belt Tournament semifinals earlier this month.

"I hope having it here will help us," Augusta State Dip Metress said about the contest. "Montevallo is a traditional good Peach Belt team that will put it on the block. They defend. They're very physical.

"We're looking forward to a great challenge from a Montevallo team that's very, very good."

The Jaguars and the Falcons (25-7) split a pair of contests this season. Augusta State won the first matchup, 61-40, last month at home. Earlier this month, Montevallo shot an eye-popping 65 percent from the field in an 81-77 victory in the conference tournament semifinals in Aiken.

"Whichever team shoots it well is what it's going to come down to," Montevallo coach Danny Young said. "I think both teams are going to play really hard. I think it's going to be physical and tough. It's going to come down to whoever makes some shots."

After his team lost to USC Aiken in the Peach Belt Tournament championship game two Sundays ago, Young gave his players two days off. The break paid off in wins over Mount Olive and the Pacers in the Division II Tournament.

"We haven't had two days off all year," Young said. "I gave them two days off hoping they'd get their legs back."

After the Jaguars' loss to the Falcons, they've focused on defense. Augusta State held Catawba and Anderson to less than 50 percent shooting in a pair of Division II Tournament wins.

Augusta State forward Greg Hire said his team is focused on two things tonight: containing Montevallo's dribble penetration and preventing the Falcons from grabbing offensive rebounds.

"We've still got to fine tune a couple of things," Hire said. "But I believe the last couple of games we've really come along defensively, trying to stop the dribble penetration. Montevallo cracked us that last game. Now, we're more focused on defense."

If you go

WHAT: No. 4 Augusta State (28-3) vs. Montevallo (25-7), NCAA Division II Southeast Regional championship

WHEN: 7 tonight

WHERE: Christenberry Fieldhouse

TICKETS: $10, available at Christenberry Fieldhouse (box office opens at 6 p.m.) or www.aug.edu/athletics

INFORMATION: (706) 737-1626

Breaking down the teams

point guard
No. 4 Augusta State
Senior Daniel Dixon shot 4 for 23 from the field (1 for 15 from the perimeter) in two games vs. the Falcons. Dixon, however, can explode on offense.

Montevallo
Senior Mark Plaza played on Montevallo's Elite Eight team in 2007. Plaza averages 6.2 assists a game and shoots 81 percent from the foul line.

shooting guard
ASU
All-American senior Ben Madgen leads the team with a 19.2 scoring average and has found his shooting touch in the past three contests.

M
Junior Tauras Dortch, the team's second-leading scorer (13.1), scored 22 against ASU and made key plays down the stretch in the PBC Tournament.

forward
ASU
All-region senior Fred Brathwaite flirted with a triple-double Sunday night. He will be asked to contain Freddy Little on the defensive end.

M
Senior Freddy Little, the second-leading scorer in the Peach Belt, scored 35 points the past two games. He's a dangerous threat all over the court.

power forward
ASU
Senior Greg Hire does the dirty work inside for the Jaguars. He will be counted on to communicate on thefloor and provide leadership.

M
Senior Gerald January gives the Falcons a major inside presence. He averages 12.2 points and a team-best 7.3 rebounds a game.

center
ASU
All-conference senior Alex Smith is the go-to guy in the paint for ASU. He has looked good since recording a sub-par game against the Falcons on March 6.

M
Seventh-year coach Danny Young has done a great job in his first year in the Peach Belt. Despite Little's mid-season foot injury, the Falcons stayed together.

the bench
ASU
ASU is starting to get more offensive and defensive production from guys like Caleb Brown, Franck Ndongo, Dom Morra, Tye Beal and Travis Keels.

M
Like ASU, Montevallo gets production from role players like Demarcus Richard, Chauncey Thompson, Jordan Hutchison, Jonas Brown and Ronald Severtsgaard.


intangibles
ASU
ASU is 56-4 at Christenberry Fieldhouse the past four years and is riding a 30-game home winning streak. If this game sells out, it will be a huge advantage.

M

Montevallo is playing in its fifth regional final in seven years but its first since 2007. Can it shoot 65 percent from the field like it did the last time vs. ASU?


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