Despite consistently making a splash on the court, senior All-Conference basketball player Corey Pelham is quite humble when it comes to his performance.
Last year, the Marlins had an overall record of 23-5 with 13 of those wins being conference games. In the ODAC semifinal, the Marlins defeated the Lynchburg Hornets 70-67, taking them to the ODAC championship against Randolph-Macon for the first time in six seasons.
The Marlins trailed behind the Hornets 36-37 at half-time. Having defeated the Hornets earlier in the season, the Marlins knew they had to finish strong to come up with the win.
A common phrase you’ll hear from Pelham’s coaches and teammates is, that “Whenever he shoots, we think it’s definitely going in,” so it was no surprise that he scored thirty points in their contest against Lynchburg.
“When Corey gets into a groove, you don’t even have to go for the rebound. We all expect him to make it,”senior Tim Fisher said.
“Corey’s talent give us an edge and he has the ability to be a weapon on any good night,” said Head Coach Macedo. “He’s a threat to shoot it from everywhere.”
“Before our Lynchburg game, Coach Dave [Macedo] said to us ‘You know this is win or go home, you know they have a game plan. It’s all about who’s gonna rise to the occasion. Who else is gonna step up and have a good game?’ and Corey snapped.. he answered the call,” senior Tyree Golston.
Pelham scored five of the Marlin’s six 3-pointers, nine free-throws and collected three 2-pointers, rebounds and assists in this contest. “We just had to execute. I knew we had to execute offense to get what we needed and my teammates found the open shots and I took them,” Pelham said.
“The last game before that, against Ferrum, I had four points. I had only gone 1-for-9 the whole game. All the shots we were taking were shots we usually hit, but they just weren’t falling. At the end of that game Coach [Macedo] told us that ‘we are all due for a game’ and I felt like it was my time,” Pelham said.
“He was definitely due for that game. I think that the culture of everybody pulling the rope the same way and just encouraging each other really pushed him to keep going,” Assistant Coach Nick Doyle said.
Team culture and chemistry is a huge factor in the Marlins’ success on the court. “My team is close, they’re all like brothers to me. Our bench brings the energy. Everybody, whether you’re playing or not, everybody is cheering each other on. If your bench doesn’t pick up on momentum, you’re dead, but we’re good about that and push each other, even off the court,” Pelham said.
“Last year’s team had a really strong winning culture, we had players that understood their roles, who had a strong work ethic, we had good leadership and I think we had guys on the court who could do a lot of things well and we played to those strengths. Corey was a big part of our success in what we did on and off the court and in that locker room,” Macedo said.
“Corey is one of the best shooters I’ve ever seen so it was only a matter of time before he got hot and started making a few.. and the energy of that game was unreal, we were jumping up and down the whole forty minutes,” alumnus Taylor Major said.
“I didn’t know I had thirty points, to be honest. I don’t necessarily think about that, I just think ‘OK we need to win this as a team. I knew I was hot after I hit the second 3, but I didn’t know it was gonna be the whole game.. and that goes back to my teammates swinging me the ball and the bench, everybody was lit,” Pelham said.
During the 2017-18 season, Pelham’s freshman year, the Marlins had lost the play-in game to go to ODACs and gotten farther in the tournament each year following.
“That’s a sign of consistency and consistent success is our goal from year to year. It doesn’t happen without players like Corey and the other guys on the team,” Macedo said.
“Truly a great team win. Corey helped propel us with his scoring.. It was just good for this group to have experience getting over that semi-final hump into the championship game and I think that really helped them confidence-wise,” Doyle said.
“Corey is a very bright individual, he’s got a lot of basketball savvy, he’s a competitor. He’s all about his teammates, he’s learned from his mistakes and we’ve challenged him along the way and I just like that he’s never satisfied,” Macedo said. “He’s poised for a big senior year.”