By Mason Watkins ’15
The final four games of the Hampden-Sydney Basketball Team’s regular season saw the Tigers outscore their opponents by a massive count of 321 to 234.
On February 6, the team traveled to Ashland, VA to face archrival Randolph-Macon. The Yellow Jackets were held to a meager 17 points in the first half and even allowed the Tigers to go on a 14-0 run at one point. With 12:55 left in the third quarter, the game was brought to its closest score yet, 35-29. As the Yellow Jackets began closing in, the Tigers hit a spark and took off. An 11-0 run brought the team to its highest lead of the night, an impressive 26 point difference. Senior Harrison George led the team in scoring with 18 points, followed closely by sophomore Greg Lewis’s 14 points. The 66-47 victory for the Tigers finished out their season sweep of Randolph-Macon.
Murray conducts the Tiger offense
Ending Hampden-Sydney’s nine day home game hiatus, the Bridgewater College Eagles traveled to Kirby Field House in what would become the biggest blowout of the season for the Tigers. Putting up 16 first half points was just one of the problems the Eagles faced. They shot a dismal 33.3% from the field while the Tigers boasted an impressive 53.7%. The 46 point difference was the headline of the game as Hampden-Sydney coasted 95-49. Sophomore Kodie Critzer shot 5 for 7 from the three point line, finishing with 15 points, right behind George’s 20 points. When asked about impressive player performances, Coach Dee Vick praised freshman Mike Murray’s and Critzer’s surprising seasons: “[Kodie] is shooting 46% from three, which is great… [Murray] is currently averaging the 3rd most assists in our conference… these two statistics are incredibly impressive considering Kodie is a sophomore and Mike is a freshman.”
The Tiger’s final home game of the regular season was the Blackout Game against Virginia Wesleyan. The home crowd was electrifying throughout the entire game, only comparable to the impressive home game earlier in the season against Randolph-Macon. Coach Vick lauded the home field advantage, saying that “both Virginia Wesleyan and Randolph-Macon brought in huge crowds,” and that he has been told “by our competitors that Kirby Field House is the toughest place to play in the ODAC.” In the first half, Hampden-Sydney played their typical role; leading by 10 at the break with a 44.7% shooting from the field compared to the Marlins’ 39.1%. Even with the intensity from the home crowd, the Marlins began to climb back into the game in the 2nd half. The Marlins claimed the lead, at one point as high as 69-58. The Tigers almost brought the game back after an 11-0 run, but had their chances for a comeback ended when Marlins’ Chris Teasley drained the final shot of the night with 7 seconds left. Junior Khobi Williamson nearly stole the game at the buzzer, only to have his shot bounce off the rim. The final score of 78-77 was the Tigers first home loss and only their third of the season.
To cap off an impressive regular season, the Tigers traveled to Emory & Henry, defeated them, and secured a share of the ODAC Regular Season Title. Neither team could bring the difference to more than 5 points at any point in the first
half. Only after halftime did the Tigers begin to step up. Critzer stole the show, scoring 17 points throughout the game and another high percentage three point shooting at 5 for 9. The score was 82-61 at the final buzzer, bringing the Tiger’s total number of 20+ point victories to 13 on the season.
Even though they clinched a share of the ODAC regular season title, it was not enough for Coach Vick; “we are not satisfied or content… our goal is to compete for the National Championship.” Coach Vick attributes this season’s success to the team’s depth of skill; “we have had so many different individuals step up this year and contribute to our wins… it makes it extremely difficult for our opponents to scout our guys… it is a committee that we have been able to be successful.” The intensity of the Kirby Field House crowd prompted Coach Vick to send an email to the student body as a personal ‘thank you’; “I would like to personally thank all the students who have come out to support our program this year… I hope as a community we can continue to build on our support and team spirit towards one another.”
The Tiger’s next game will be versus Roanoke in the ODAC Tournament Quarterfinals on Friday, February 22. If the team can survive the ODAC Tournament, they will enter the NCAA Tournament, where, as Coach Vick states, “anything can happen!”