It is ironic that Columbus State guard Steve Peterson lists LeBron James as his favorite professional athlete.
At crunch time, the two players couldnt act more differently.
James of the Miami Heat shies away from taking the big shot at seemingly every turn. The last time he did it was in last months NBA All-Star Game. Yes, it was a meaningless game, but there was James throwing a terrible across-the-court pass -- which was picked off to end the game as James East team lost -- instead of taking the potential winning shot.
Peterson wants the ball in his hands when the clock is winding down and the game is on the line. And more often than not, Peterson and his team are going to be successful.
Case in point: Saturday night at the Lumpkin Center, Columbus State trailed top seed and regular-season Peach Belt Conference champion South Carolina-Aiken 74-73 with 7 seconds remaining.
Not only was a trip to the PBC tournament championship game on the line, but the Cougars likely needed to win the game to earn a bid to the NCAA Division II tournament.
Everyone knew who would get the ball. Aiken double-teamed him. But Peterson broke between the two defenders, took the inbound pass from Jarmarquis Steverson, drove toward the basket and made the shot to give the Cougars the victory.
He is a winner when it comes to those situations, CSU coach Robert Moore said. I think he is one of the best basketball players around when it comes to crunch time.
I think he actually thrives in that situation. Any time the game is close, Steves level of focus on the things he needs to get done on the court elevates.
That was not the first time in a conference tournament Peterson made a big shot. While he was at Morehead State, he hit the winner as Morehead State beat Austin Peay to win the Ohio Valley Conference championship.
Moore said there is a reason Peterson seems to enjoy those end-of-the game situations.
Hes been in that situation so many times, and he has been successful so often, he is confident, Moore said.
And his teammates have confidence in him as well. They have seen him get it done.
Peterson helped lead Jordan High to a state championship in 2007. From there, he signed a scholarship to play Division I basketball at Morehead State. After a pair of seasons there, where he averaged 7.1 points per game, Peterson decided to transfer.
There was no doubt when he left Morehead State, I told my athletic director, Jay Sparks, that he is the guy we need to start the process of turning this program back to its glory days, Moore said. Steve is a smart basketball player. He understands the game. He understands what I want on the floor. A lot of people think he is just a scorer, but he rebounds, gives out assists. He is a complete basketball player.
Kevin Price, 706-320-4493, email@example.com