LAURINBURG — Following a performance which helped lead Temple Christian to the Carolina Christian Athletic Association tournament title, Kurth Nelson was still in disbelief.
Nelson scored a game-high 25 points as Temple turned back Liberty Christian 58-49 Saturday afternoon at Scotland Christian.
“It’s a little surprising,” Nelson said. “All the hard work we put in showed. It just kept fueling us to improve and we never stopped. I think it’s great…it’s crazy.”
The Tigers and the Knights tied for the regular season championship after splitting the season series. Each team rolled to wins in their semifinal matchups to set up the showdown for the CCAA title.
Liberty jumped out to a quick three-point lead before Temple responded with an 11-0 run to seize control of the contest. Cuentin Bridges scored eight of his 18 points in the first quarter for the Tigers.
After being limited to two points in the opening eight minutes, Nelson exploded for 11 in the second as Temple built its advantage to 26-19 at halftime.
The Tigers stretched their lead to as much as 12 points before the Knights mounted one final push in fourth quarter. David Langston drained back-to-back 3-pointers to slice Liberty’s deficit to six before Russ Byrd connected to a 3-point field goal of his own for Temple to halt the rally.
“They laid it out there on the court,” Temple coach John Byrd said. “I thought we would have a lull in the second half, but I’m really impressed with these young men.”
Bridges and Nelson were joined on the all-conference team by Greg Hagins, who netted 10 in the title game.
“It’s kind of humbling that you can have young men like this who give 100 percent, ” John Byrd said. “It’s very humbling. It’s about all I can say.”
Temple wraps up its season with a 19-5 mark.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.