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Halvorsen shows grit, toughness for Catamounts

Jeff Birchfield • Mar 8, 2019 at 9:20 PM

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Matt Halvorsen wasn’t about to stay down Friday night.

The 6-foot-1 sophomore guard from Kingsport suffered hard contact, sending him to the floor and splitting open his chin in the second half of Western Carolina’s 96-83 loss to VMI in the opening round of the Southern Conference men’s basketball tournament.

Showing toughness, Halvorsen left the game at the 16:23 mark but returned with his chin bandaged up with 13:57 left on the clock. Halvorsen played the rest of the game and finished with eight points, seven rebounds and two assists.

“I was just driving and when I got hit, obviously (the game officials) didn’t think it was enough contact,” Halvorsen said of his encounter with VMI’s 6-foot-10 Tyler Creammer. “I got tripped up and hit my chin on the ground and started bleeding.

“I had them clean it up so I could go right back out there. You have to have the mindset to get back out there for your teammates.”

Early on, Halvorsen drew the tough assignment of being matched up with Bubba Parham, VMI’s all-conference guard. No one with Western Carolina was able to slow Parham, who scored 41 points and tied East Tennessee State’s TJ Cromer for seventh on the tournament’s single-game scoring list.

Parham’s offensive output was just two points off the third-place mark set by Davidson’s Steph Curry in 2009, and helped the Keydets pull away from a 41-39 halftime lead against the Catamounts.

THE SEASON AS A WHOLE

Halvorsen averaged 12.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game during the regular season. He started 32 of 33 games and averaged nearly 34 minutes per game.

He hit double figures in 18 games and exceeded the 20-point mark three times, including a season-high 26 points in a win over Hiwassee. He had 24 in a win over The Citadel on Feb. 16 and 23 in a loss at VMI.

Halvorsen was less concerned about his individual numbers than he was disappointed with his team’s 10-21 finish to the season.

“It wasn’t the season we had planned,” he said. “We had a lot of close losses. Obviously we didn’t do what we needed to be here this weekend. We’re going to do everything we can this spring and summer to be ready to go next season.”

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