Stillman gets fifth straight appearance in NAIA Tournament
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Jeremy Bryant
Stillman men’s basketball is making history for the school with a soon-to-be trip to Kentucky, as the team was among the 64 announced as part of the NAIA Tournament.
This marks the fifth consecutive year the Stillman Tigers have been invited into the tournament. It also places them tied for the fifth-longest streak for an Alabama four-year school to receive a postseason bid in NAIA or NCAA Tournament, and the longest active streak for all teams in the Southern States Athletic Conference.
Stillman entered last year’s tournament as a No. 1 seed to achieve the school’s first postseason win, becoming a N0. 8 seed in the final round before being ousted by St. Francis.
The Tigers have enjoyed another successful season thus far, finishing the regular season with 20-8 overall record including a win over No. 2 Talladega. They will join three others teams from the SSAC, which they have a 2-6 record against this season.
Tigers head coach John Teasley said he feels that this is a great feat for his team, but it also serves as a much bigger goal.
“Being a No. 2 seed proves how good this team is and what people across the country think about them. That’s one of the things we’ve wanted is to have Stillman recognized around the country as a top program. It is showing now,” said Teasley.
The Tigers have been on the rise in recent years. They won the SSCA regular-season title two years ago and last year’s Round of 16 appearance made it the first time the Tigers made it that far in over a decade. Their last Round of 16 appearance came in 2011 in a 86-81 loss to Alabama-Huntsville.
The Tigers may have a tough road ahead of them if they want to advance deeper into the tournament. They would possibly have to face at least one Top-5 seed in the following rounds if they get past Union (KY.) Teasley is not as worried because he says this team carries the same mentality as all others invited.
“Every team is battle-tested and playing some of the best basketball right now with the same goal: survive and advance. It’s anybody’s game. Right now it is figuring out how to keep doing what you are doing well and figure out how to slow down what someone else is doing well,” said Teasley.
Stillman will tip-off off their opening-round matchup on March 11. If they take care of business their game will be held the next day against the winner between No. 2 Thomas Moore and No. 15 Grandview.