Tyler Dearman Sinks Captains, Guilford College Men’s Basketball Punches Ticket to Fort Wayne, Indiana with Dearman and fellow Southern Guilford HS grad Julius Burch making “GO QUAKES” the post of the Day/Night/Month/Year

Dearman Sinks Captains, Men’s Basketball Punches Ticket to Fort Wayne
Quakers claims first NCAA Sectional Title since 2010
from Bryce Johnson, Director of Athletic Communications at Guilford College

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Sectional Championship Game of the 2024 NCAA Division-III Men’s Basketball Tournament was everything it should have been. Hard-fought, emotional, and most of all, dramatic, as Tyler Dearman (Greensboro, N.C./Southern Guilford HS) fought through contact to finish a right-handed layup with 2.3 seconds on the clock to lift the Guilford College men’s basketball team to a thrilling, 50-48 victory over reigning National Champions, Christopher Newport on Saturday night at the Ragan-Brown Field House.

“He said he had us and he was going to help us get over the finish line,” Julius Burch (Greensboro, N.C./Southern Guilford HS) said. “And that is what he did… His one is a game winning shot. That is just Tyler Dearman. That is what he is. That is the character, that is what he gives.”
(Both Tyler Dearman and Julius Burch, played for Coach Evan Fancourt, at Southern Guilford High School, on Drake Road, in Guilford County, you know, “The Southern Guilford Storm”.)

That one Burch mentioned, that would be field goal makes by Dearman on the evening, but who cares, he made the one that matters. As he only finished with five points, but nonetheless lifted the Quakers to the National Semifinals with a 26-4 record. Meanwhile, the Captains’ nine-game winning streak in the dance dating back to last year was halted as they finish the season 24-7.

“What was going through my head? It is about time he made a basket,” Head Coach Tom Palombo said. “We just got the ball in Ty(ler)’s hands, set up a ball screen, just play off of it, and he made the right play.”

Dearman may have stolen the spotlight, but it was Burch who stole the night, posting his highest point total since November of 2022 with a game-best 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting. He fell one carom shy of a double-double with nine boards plus three assists and two steals.

“(I was) getting downhill and attacking the space that I was given,” Burch said. “A lot of teams back off of me so I use that to my advantage a little bit, allowing me to get downhill and play make for my teammates and myself. And again, tonight they were playing real tight denying passes to our guards. Running through screens really tight. So, I took it upon myself to attack the basket and attack that one-on-one matchup that they were leaving me.”

Luke Proctor (Apex, N.C.) was the only other Quaker in double-figures making all four of his shot attempts from the field, including his lone three, and going 2-for-2 from the stripe on his way to 11 points.

“It is a dream come true,” Proctor said of enjoying this alongside his brother Gabe Proctor (Apex, N.C.). “He is my best friend on the court, and off the court. Grew up together, playing a lot of one-on-one, fight all the time, (trash) talk each other back-and-forth… Like I said, a dream come true to play with him.”

The Quakers may have scored a season-low 50 points, but they also withheld CNU to their lowest point total of the year and, contrary to conventional wisdom, GC is now 3-0 in their three lowest scoring games on the year.

“It was, like you said, a Guilford kind of game, 50-48, kind of our M.O.,” Palombo said. “Playing really good defense, scraping and rebound. They are very good, very good defensively. It was two teams that (were) really just going at each other for 40 minutes.”

Just because Dearman had his lowest scoring game since December, does not mean he was ineffective. He secured a game-high 12 rebounds, matching his career-best, and also was tied with Burch with a game-high three assists plus two steals.

Jahn Hines led the Captains, scoring 17 points, although he was limited some down the stretch with foul trouble. The only other player in double-figures for the guests was Toa Hollenbeck with 14 off the bench. Ethan Ward contributed six points and a team-high seven rebounds, also in reserve.

“Each and every individual in that locker room, they gave us everything they had. It was on full display,” CNU Head Coach John Krikorian said. “Just a phenomenal game, team, and program in Guilford. We knew it was going to be a knockdown, drag out type of affair. We wanted to be in there, have a chance at the end, and that is exactly what these guys did.”

The physicality was on full display from the opening tip with the game’s opening tally coming from the charity stripe. Christopher Newport put up the game’s initial three points before Luke Proctor cashed in a second-chance three to even the score. Things were still tied, now at nine-all, with 13-minutes left in the first half, before a Hines pullup jumper, a Hollenbeck trey, and a Ward second-chance layup, constituted of a 7-1 run for the guests. Proctor ended the stretch with a floater, igniting what ended up as the longest run for either side in the game. Rob Littlejohn (Columbus, Ohio) made an elbow jumper, Caleb Farrish (McLeansville, N.C.) buried a shot from distance, and Littlejohn hit a three of his own to make it a 10-0 run for the hosts. Tyson Henderson made a three and Burch made a pair from the stripe bring the totals to 22-19 into the locker room.

To say defenses ruled in the first half would be an understatement. The Captains’ 19 points represented their lowest scoring output in any half of play this season while the Quakers’ 22 was not much better, as their third-lowest scoring stanza. Both teams shot well below 30% with GC at 24% and CNU at 27.6%. the guests saw particular trouble from range, making just two of their 17 attempts while seven apiece from Burch and Proctor posted the hosts to a halftime advantage.

Compared to the first half, the second might as well have been a layup line. Burch opened the scoring with a turnaround jumper, with Christopher Newport countering by matching their longest scoring run of the night to that point to claim the lead. Proctor and Burch alternated the next four baskets for the Quakers then Gabe Proctor sunk a singular free throw on the other side of the under-12 media timeout giving GC the largest lead for either squad in the game.

Christopher Newport began to chip away. Hines got three points the old fashion way and Isaiah Dozier made a triple within a three-possession span with a Burch layup splitting the difference. A second-chance score by Burch led into CNU’s best scoring run of the evening. Ward made a layup after an offensive board, Hollenbeck cashed in a three, and Hines made a pair at the line putting the Captains in the lead with just under six to play. A whole bunch of free throws ensued with the result being a four-point lead for CNU into the final media break. The Quakers closed the gap with two Burch freebees across two trips to the line, two from Dearman at the stripe, a basket from Farrish, plus two more free throws from him making the score 48-44 with 34 seconds left. A Hines layup, then a turnover on the inbounds left the door open for the visitors and they got halfway through the door, with Hollenbeck making two free throws to tie things, but that only ended up setting the stage for Dearman who made his first make of the night, be the biggest of his collegiate career. Hines’ halfcourt heave at the buzzer fell short as the Guilford team and student body swarmed Jack Jensen Court with their first Sectional Championship since 2010.

Now 30 games into the season, including four in the NCAA Tournament, Guilford could have ended up playing anyone, but they will draw an Old Dominion Athletic Conference foe in Hamden-Sydney on Thursday night in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Tipoff is at 5:30 PM.