Helfer Wins 400th; Blazers Remain In First Place

| January 20, 2017

VALDOSTA – In a highly anticipated matchup on Thursday night between two of the Gulf South Conference’s top ranked teams, the Valdosta State Blazers knocked off the Delta State Statesmen, 79-62, and helped Head Coach Mike Helfer secure his 400th career victory as a collegiate head coach.

“When you reach a milestone like this, you tend to look back in amazement at how many players have played for you and how great many of them were,” stated Helfer. “It’s not about the wins and losses as much as it is about the relationships and doing our best to influence lives in a positive way.”

With the support of nearly 1,000 attendees, the Blazers took a 7-4 lead early in the first half after back-to-back layups by Saadiq Muhammad and never trailed again for the rest of the night. Thanks to an impressive shooting effort that resulted in a 49.1 percent performance from the field and a 45.0 percent three-point display, the Blazers remained in complete control throughout the duration of the night.

Even more impressive, was the intensity level of the Blazer defense throughout the night. The Blazers held the GSC’s second-best scorer, Devin Schmidt, to just five first-half points and 15 total points in the game. Coach Helfer credited the team’s defensive success to their ability to carry out a specific game plan.

“I thought tonight, maybe more than any other time this season, we took the scouting report and applied it on the floor,” said Helfer after the game. “That is a very tough team to guard. Schmidt is very tough to guard. But with strong execution tonight, we were able to do both.”

Four different players reached double figures in the scoring column, and Justin Simon added 10 rebounds to his 11 points for a double-double. Beau Justice had a big night on offense as well, scoring 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field.

Defensively, the Blazers forced 14 turnovers with eight steals, and the squad teamed up for six blocks on the night. Jimmy Kodet delivered three of those blocks and came up with eight points with one field goal and two timely three-point baskets.

The victory helped VSU remain tied with Alabama-Huntsville for first place with a 13-3 record overall and an 8-2 mark in conference play. Meanwhile, Delta dropped to 12-4 overall and fell to 7-3 in the GSC.

“This is one of my favorite teams that I’ve coached,” added Helfer after being asked about achieving his 400th win with his current team. “They understand me, I understand them, and I think the chemistry we have is really helping us as an organization right now.”

Valdosta State returns to action on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. against Mississippi College. The contest will feature a halftime recognition ceremony to honor the VSU Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2017.

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