Both CSU basketball teams won conference championships
By KEVIN PRICE
The Columbus State basketball coaches have been roommates, assistant coaches for the other and best friends over the past two decades. Now they are both champions.
Jonathan Norton's Lady Cougars won their second straight Peach Belt Conference championship Wednesday night with a 68-59 victory over Clayton State. A couple of hours later, Robert Moore's Cougars won his first PBC title with a 93-72 rout of the Lakers.
"We've always been close," Moore said Thursday. " We always pull for each other.
"I can remember times when we could go through an ESPN Magazine and talk about the top players in the country men or women. We always talk on the bus going to away games about who is going to play what position, how can y'all beat this team, going over scouting reports.
"I listen to him a lot, get his opinion on a lot of different things. He does the same with me. It helps as coaches to know we got each other's back."
Norton said he was happy for Moore to get his first after close
calls in the recent past.
"For this to be his first regular-season (championship) -- and we both put a lot of stock in regular season because it is over the long haul, it is not just getting hot over three games -- it is really special," Norton said.
"So as a close friend, I was sitting right behind his bench last night, standing and cheering as much as anybody. I really enjoyed watching that and being a part of that. The way they did it this season, with so many new players, to see them come together -- he has done a phenomenal job.
"When it is one of your best buddies standing out there doing it gives you a special feeling."
Both coaches said they thought of the late Herbert Greene on Wednesday night. Moore was an assistant coach for Greene, CSU's longtime men's coach and athletic director. Norton was an assistant to women's coach Jay Sparks.
"One of the things I wanted to do six years ago when I first took the job was win a championship," Moore said. "We won so many championships with Herbert Greene, my mentor and my friend. It just felt so great last night because I know he was off in heaven saying 'Go Cougars.' "
Now both coaches will turn their attention to the PBC tournament, which gets underway on Sunday at the Lumpkin Center.
The Lady Cougars, the No. 1 seed from the Western Division, will play Flagler at 2 p.m.
The Cougars, also the West's top seed, will face Francis Marion at 4 p.m.
Moore will be leading the cheers for Norton's team for more reasons than usual. If the Lady Cougars win, then CSU will host the semifinals and the finals of the men's PBC tournament as well as the women's next week.
Kevin Price, 706-320-4493. Follow Kevin on Twitter @lesports