Columbus State University

Both Columbus State basketball teams in hunt for Peach Belt championships

The Columbus State men's basketball team did what it needed to do Wednesday night, knock off Montevallo to forge a tie for the lead in the Peach Belt Conference.

As they head into the final two games of the regular season, the Cougars are tied with Montevallo and Young Harris for the lead in the Western Division. Those three are also tied with Lander for the overall lead in the PBC. Those four teams are all 12-5.

For the regular-season league title, the PBC does not break ties, so if two or more teams finish with the same record, they will be declared co-champions.

The Cougars (18-6) play their home finale at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against North Georgia. They close out the regular season on Wednesday at Clayton State.

"We put ourselves in the situation where we wanted to be when we began the year," CSU coach Robert Moore said. "We have to take care of business against North Georgia, who can beat anyone in this league and

they have proved it all year."

CSU has not won the regular-season title since the 2005-06 season. The Cougars went 23-9 and 16-4 in the Peach Belt that season.

The Cougars head into Saturday's game coming off another thrilling home win. Each of the past three home games have been won at the buzzer.

Against Montevallo, DeMarcus McVay hit a jumper with 0.4 seconds left for the 69-68 win. Cam Baker hit shots for wins over Clayton State on Feb. 3 and Young Harris on Feb. 13.

"It has been crazy over the past month, but that is what you expect when it's so close to the end of the year," Moore said. "Everyone is fighting for berths in the conference tournament as well as the NCAA tournament so every team is giving its all."

North Georgia (6-20, 4-13) has lost 12 of its last 14, but the Nighthawks won 69-68 over USC Aiken on Wednesday.

CSU beat North Georgia 95-67 earlier this season.

Meanwhile, the 24th-ranked Lady Cougars are also fighting a league title, its sixth overall and second straight. They are tied with Clayton State for the Western Division title. Both are tied with Lander for the league lead at 14-3.

The CSU men have a vested interest in the women winning the West Division as the division winner will be the host for the semifinals and final of the PBC tournament.

"Our goals from the beginning of the season are available to us," CSU coach Jonathan Norton said. "We want to win a regular season title, the conference tournament and make a run in the NCAA tournament. We still

have the opportunity to make each of those things happen."

CSU has won seven straight since a mid-season hiccup in which it lost 3-of-4. The Lady Cougars have also won 29 straight at home, a school and conference record.

CSU lost 73-70 in overtime at North Georgia to start that mid-season hiccup. During that game, Norton collapsed on the sideline and had to be taken to the hospital with high blood pressure.

"North Georgia presents plenty of challenges," Norton said. "We have to do a better job of playing four full quarters against them."

Note: There will be Senior Day ceremonies on Saturday. The Cougars will recognize Baker, Darren Daniel, Brent Jackson and Brentine Taylor. The Lady Cougars will be honoring Michelle Mitchell, Ashley Johnson, Brea Walker and Alexys Woods.

Kevin Price, 706-320-4493, Follow Kevin on Twitter@lesports