The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) tournament begins on Monday afternoon, 12:15 pm (CST), with the four seed v five seed matchup in the men’s bracket. Miles College (4th seed out of West) will play Fort Valley State University (5th seed out of East) followed by a women’s first round meeting between Claflin University (3W) and Lane College (6W).

There will be four games on Monday (two men’s and two women’s) and another four games on Tuesday to complete the first two days of the tournament.

Missing from those first two days of conference tournament action will be the teams representing the top of the men’s and women’s brackets, the three teams from the Atlanta University Center.

The Morehouse College Maroon Tigers (first overall seed), the Clark Atlanta University Lady Panthers (the top seed from the Eastern Division) and the Clark Atlanta University Panthers (the second seed from the East) will all have the opening round off due to their respective dominance during the regular season.

Beginning with the first overall seeded Morehouse Maroon Tigers, head coach and the 2018 SIAC coach of the year Grady Brewer, and let us not forget to mention conference player of the year Tyrius Walker (23.7 ppg, 5.4 rebounds per game, 3 assists, 1.8 steals) are playing their opening game in the second round on Wednesday (3:15 pm CST) against the winner of the Miles and Fort Valley State game.

Junior forward all-conference selection Omar Alston has stepped into a new role as a go-to player in the post for Morehouse, starting all 25 games this season, shooting .595 percent from the field while averaging 10 points and a team high 8.9 rebounds per game. Senior guard Jordan Wallace, junior guard James Walker and sophomore point guard Michael Olmert have all played a big role in the SIAC East title Morehouse picked up on Thursday night following their victory Clark Atlanta at Forbes Arena.

The number one seed out the east in the women’s bracket, the Lady Panthers are also going to make their tournament debut on Wednesday. Clark Atlanta will play the winner of the Miles College (4W) and Fort Valley State (5W) matchup at 1pm (CST).

Despite losing their regular season finale at Albany State University on Monday, Feb. 19, the Lady Panthers finished with an overall record of 17-8 and a conference leading 15-3 record. Lady Panthers senior guard Marissa Mandeldove, a Parkview High School alum and all-conference selection, is coming into the tournament playing some of her best ball and is averaging 12.7 points and two assists per game.

Fellow senior and all-conference player Lauren Turner, she and Mandeldove are holdover starters from last year’s team, is averaging 13 points and a team high 9.5 rebounds per game. Highly regarded freshman guard Naomi Holloway, a major signing out of Stephenson High School for Lady Panthers first year coach Yolanda Moore and her staff, is a definitive candidate for conference newcomer of the year after averaging 16.1 points, 4 rebounds and two assists per game.

Holloway scored a career-high 32 points in a win at Spring Hill College on Dec. 30, 2017 and is averaging 24 points per game over the last two games. Holloway’s continued progression makes the Lady Panthers a threat to be playing in the conference championship game on Friday. She was named both conference newcomer for the year and freshman of the year and Moore was selected as the conference’s women’s coach of the year. 

The reigning SIAC tournament champion Clark Atlanta Panthers will be the number two seed out of the East Division this year. Head coach Darrell Walker, assistant coach Alfred Jordan and the Panthers were seeded lower last year and won the whole thing so this year’s tournament won’t be any more difficult of a challenge. The Panthers are scheduled to play the winner of the Kentucky State (3W) and Albany State (6E) game on Thursday at 7:45 pm.

Despite the loss of junior starting two-guard Austin Donaldson (injured earlier in the season) the Panthers are still one of the highest scoring teams in the conference at 81 points per game. A large portion of that scoring comes from an experienced lineup that has been there and done that.

Seniors Damien Davis (10 ppg and 5.7 rebounds) and Anthony Williams are back from last year’s team along with senior transfer and first team all-conference selection Akil Douglas (13 ppg and six rebounds) and juniors Jalen Mitchell (10.7ppg), Jamal Pollydore (10.6 ppg) and Shelvick Henry, Jr. (11.5 ppg). All of whom are averaging double-figures in scoring with the exception of Williams, a point guard, who is averaging just under nine points a game.

The SIAC tournament will take place in Birmingham, Alabama at the Bill Harris Arena in the Birmingham Crossplex on 2337 Bessemer Road. Tickets are $10 for adults (18 years and older).

 

The Morehouse College Maroon Tigers (pictured) and the Clark Atlanta Lady Panthers will be one-seeds at this year's SIAC tournament. Photo credit: Donnell Suggs

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