Senior Jack Hegwood got his first career start on his senior day and took full advantage scoring a career high 12 points as Wabash ended the regular season 21-3 and winners of 17 straight. Photo courtesy of Wabash College Athletics
There were smiles from many directions as Wabash honored their four seniors with a 98-75 win over Kenyon.
The seniors were a big part of the win, as they have been all season. Jack Davidson led the Little Giants in scoring with 24 points and five rebounds. Kellen Schreiber had 16 points and was 6-of-9 from the field and 4-of-5 from the line to go with five boards. Tyler Watson had a dozen points and handed out eight assists.
And taking advantage of a Senior Day start, Jack Hegwood scored the first eight Wabash points, on the way to a career-high 12.
“Hegwood had the best performance by a guy who got an opportunity on Senior Night that I have every had,” Little Giants coach Kyle Brumett said. “I’m extremely proud of him. He leads us in so many ways. He was ready when he got the chance, and that is what other guys on this team have done this season, and that is a big reason we have been this successful.”
The coaches were smiling as the Little Giants took care of business against the last-place team in the NCAC, although the Lords played well in the first half and kept things close. The win is the 17th in a row for Wabash, and moves the 20th-ranked D3 team to 21-3 on the season and 16-1 in the league.
The fans were smiling, knowing that there is a home conference playoff game next Tuesday and with a win, the last three games of the tourney will be played on Mac Petty Court.
The outright NCAC champs for the first time, Wabash never trailed. The Lords hit a few shots to keep the margin under 10 points most of the first half, but in the second, the lead grew to as much as 28, with time for the four seniors to get a bow coming out of the game.
When you are in first, and have a win streak like we have, there is a target on your back,’ Brumett noted. “It adds some pressure, sure, but I’m really proud of how we came out and we responded to how well Kenyon played. We had a really good offensive first half and shored up the defense in the second.”
The Little Giants hit the 90-point mark for the 14th time this season, shooting 49 percent from the field and 36 percent from deep. They were 75 percent from the line and were out-rebounded 39-34. They had 11 turnovers while forcing 20.
Jesse Hall came off the bench to add 11 points and grab five rebounds.
“He continues to get more comfortable,” Brumett said of the freshman. “He and Vinny (Buccilla) came off the bench and had no turnovers. That is the type of thing we need to win three conference tournament games and maybe go farther. Those quality minutes give us depth.”
The Little Giants take that depth, the title, and the winning streak, into the conference tournament this week.
They will take on eighth-place Hiram at Chadwick Court Tuesday. Game time is set for 7:30.
With a win, the Little Giants will host the semifinals and finals on Friday and Saturday.
Wabash has a pair of 20-point wins over Hiram in the regular season.
“They are a physical team,”Brumett said of the Terriers. “We have to do a better job on the offensive glass, and we have to take their three’s away. We have to just look at what we have been successful with and stay the course. We will be ready.”
In the second game against Hiram, Watson set the school record with 14 assists.
“Back in November and December, I said this team would be playing their best basketball in February and March, and they are,” Brumett said. “It takes big contributions from everyone in late February - that is how you advance in tournament play. These seniors have envisioned something special along with Coach Sullivan, myself and the coaches, and we are able to be part of history, part of something special.”
The regular season behind them and a league title in their pockets, the Little Giants look to add to the streak and the magic of this season starting Tuesday.