Tyler Heffernan | Sea Devil Sports Journalist
WILMINGTON, N.C. - There's just something about games between the Cape Fear Community College and Brunswick Community College men's basketball teams that make this a rivalry. Maybe it's the 25-mile difference between the two campuses. Or maybe it's the inevitable recruiting clashes between both programs to scour talent and bring players to their southeastern North Carolina school.
Then, there's the issue of revenge. Just over a month ago, the Dolphins rallied to top the Sea Devils in a stunning finish. Although BCC successfully defended its home court, CFCC players left Bolivia with the aching reality that they let one slip away. Even if the Sea Devils return the favor of playing unfriendly host in their home finale Wednesday night when the Dolphins travel to Wilmington, the score won't be even, though. It'll probably never be settled.
"You always want to beat them," CFCC coach Ryan Mantlo said. "It doesn't matter if it means nothing—if both teams are in last and second to last—or if both teams are in first and second.
"You want to be known as the best junior college team around this area," he added. "Both programs are great. You just always want to one up the other one."
Across the Cape Fear River, the feeling is mutual. "Every game is a fight," BCC coach Walter Shaw said. "We've played each other 25 times, maybe, but there are probably a little less than eight games decided by more than 10 points."
Both teams have dealt with the unfamiliar territory of losing streaks this season but are desperately vying for wins and momentum. CFCC (13-15 overall, 4-8 Region 10) has won its past two games by gaining early leads and showing discipline to hold onto them. BCC (14-14, 4-8) beat Denmark Technical Community College on Sunday, ending a two-game slide.
"We're as good as anybody in the league," Shaw said emphatically, noting close games against the top three teams in Region 10 this season. "We've had a problem of playing to the level of competition."
With the stakes raised and the Dolphins trying to pry the fifth seed away from their rival Sea Devils, Shaw is confident in his team's position. It starts Wednesday at the Schwartz Center, in what will undoubtedly have a playoff atmosphere.
"We're going to have to limit turnovers," he said. "We're going to have to match their intensity. They have quite a few good players that we have to keep in check."
When BCC defeated CFCC earlier this season, five Sea Devils reached double-figure scoring totals and as a team they shot 56 percent from the field. Dolphin guards Quinton Morrow and Kameko Walls each scored 23 points and combined for seven steals in the 80-76 win.
Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. CFCC is hosting Small Business Night in addition to honoring its sophomore class.