Bama bludgeons Blazers

Sophomore guard Senario Hillman scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half to lead a quartet of Crimson Tide players in double figures as Alabama coasted to a 97-43 exhibition win over Belhaven, an NAIA team coached by former Tide assistant Tom Kelsey.

Senior forward Alonzo Gee scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half. Gee threw down a pair of dunks and pulled down six boards in the rout.

Hillman canned 3-of-5 shots behind the longer 3-point line.

"The main thing is, I've just got to continue to build up my confidence in my shot," he said. Hillman spent part of the second half in the high post at 6-foot-1. "I hope it continues," he said. "I had fun. I told coach [Mark Gottfried] to let me try it."

"Alonzo had a great first half, and Senario [Hillman] started getting a lot more active as the game got going. I was pretty pleased with a lot of things. For an exhibition game, I thought we got some things done," said Gottfried, whose team won both its pre-season exhibitions.

"Our quickness defensively, and our personality are great personality traits for this team. We wore them down with our pressure, and that created a lot of opportunities for our offense. Everybody got some good minutes, and overall it was a good effort."

Gee buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key as time expired in the first half, and the Tide took a 44-23 lead into the locker room against the NAIA Blazers, who entered the game 3-0 in regular season play.

It may have been a good thing Kelsey brought 17 players, as his team already had committed 13 fouls by halftime. The Tide had 18 made free throws and 12 made field goals at intermission.

"As I'm watching the team, I'm pleased with the unselfish play. That's just contagious" Gottfried said. "We want to try to create tempo, and we want to try to create opportunities for our offense from our defense. We haven't had the personnel [in the past] to do that, at times."

JaMychal Green scored 14 points to go with seven boards, five steals, and three blocks.

"He's a pretty good player, and he's only going to get better," said Gottfried. "He's going to be a fun player for all of us to watch."

"[Green] gets better every day. He stays after practice and works hard," said Hillman.

Yamene Coleman scored 12 points on six-of-seven shooting and grabbed five rebounds.

"He's done a good job for us. One thing with Yamene, this is his fourth year, and he understands everything we're doing," Gottfried said.

Ronald Steele scored seven points and dealt eight assists in 25 minutes as he continued his recovery from knee surgeries.

"I'm getting more comfortable every game. I'm slowly getting back," he said.

Though no Blazer reached double digits, Dax Miller and Kory Whiting had nine points each to lead Belhaven.

Gottfried also announced five fall signees who will join his team next year: 6-0 guard Cully Payne of Schaumburg, Ill, 6-3 guard Charvez Davis of Montgomery, 6-8 forward Chris Hines of Evergreen, Ala, 6-6 forward Tony Mitchell of Swainsboro, Ga, and 6-9 Center Shawn Kemp, Jr, of Canton, Ga.

Mitchell is a re-sign who did not qualify, while Hines and Davis are junior college transfers.

"We felt like it'd be good if we could just basically sign a player at every spot. I'm excited about the group as a whole," Gottfried said, adding that he was unsure if he'd add one more player before the fall signing period ends Tuesday night.

A final possibility is 6-1 guard Eric Bledsoe of Birmingham, who is also considering Auburn, Ole Miss and UAB.

The Tide opens the regular season Sunday at 6:00 p.m. at home against Mercer (1-0).

"We've got to be ready. I tell our guys: You fear nobody, but you respect everybody," said Gottfried.

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