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CCSU gets ready for Holiday Classic

By Anthony Rhoads

Both the Clayton State men and women's basketball teams will play host to tournaments this Sunday and Monday.

The men will host the Wachovia/Southern Orthopedic Holiday Classic while the Lady Lakers will host the Arrowhead Clinic Holiday Tournament.

Men's preview: The Lakers enter this weekend's event at 8-1, the second-best start in school history. Last Thursday, the Lakers defeated Bluefield College 81-56 in a non-conference home game.

Clayton State will open up its holiday classic Sunday against Albany State at 8 p.m. The game will be the second time Albany State and Clayton State have tangled. On Nov. 25 in Albany, the Lakers defeated the Rams 78-73.

On Monday, the Lakers will play Johnson C. Smith at 8 p.m. The Johnson C. Smith Rams, out of Charlotte, are members of the Southern Intercollegiate Conference.

"This will be two good games for us at home," Clayton State head coach Gordon Gibbons said. "I feel that after the Christmas touranament we will have had 13 games together, including exhibition games, and will be ready for the conference. These two games are very important and will help us get ready for the conference."

Clayton State opens its Peach Belt Conference schedule Jan. 7 at home against North Florida.

Going into this weekend, junior center BJ Puckett leads Clayton State in scoring and in rebounds. He's averaging 14 points and 8 rebounds per game.

Puckett has been deadly in his last few games, making 20 of his last 26 shots. His field goal percentage for the season is .567.

Senior forward Craig Butts leads the Lakers in field goal percentage (.600) and he's averaging 13.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

Some other standouts this year have been junior guard Darien Chavis (9.4 points per game) and senior guard Kevin Young and senior guard/forward Jason Byrd, who are averaging 8.3 points per game each. Young has been the Lakers' long-range specialist this year as he leads the team in 3-point shots (15 of 36, .417 percent).

Former Mt. Zion High School standout Lamar

Rodger is second on the team in 3-pointers. He's made 14 of 45 shots from the 3-point arc. Rodgers is a senior guard.

Women's preview: The Arrowhead Clinic Holiday Tournanent will begin Sunday at 1 p.m. with Carson Newman playing West Georgia. Clayton State will play St. Pauls at 3 p.m. The consolation/championship will be held on Monday.

Clayton State is coming back from the Cruzin' Classic in West Palm Beach Fla. Last week, the Lady Lakers upset Bellarmine 75-63. Bellarmine entered the contest as the No. 11 team in NCAA Division II.

Clayton State then lost 86-80 in overtime to Nova Southeastern to close out the tournament.

Clayton State enters the Arrowhead tournament with a 6-2 record.

Some standouts on this year's Lady Laker team include Jamika Hindsman (12.6 points per game), Apryl Brown (11.4), Brandi Catia (11.0) and April Tayler (9.9).