The good ole saying is, “if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it.” It is the saying the Maryville College men’s basketball team has lived by this season. Last year’s Conference Championship has been replicated through the determination invested by the seniors.
Head Coach Randy Lambert has instilled the word “determination” into his team to finish whatever they have started. The Scots beat opponent Methodist University 79-67 in the championship, earning them the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament which will be their 20th overall appearance.
The Scots championship season was led by three key players, #20 Dante Hoppa, #21 Calvin Songster, and #30 Emier Bowman. Hoppa and Songster were named to the USA-South All-Tournament, while Bowman was MVP of the tournament. Bowman averaged over 21 points per game during the tournament, ending off with a 23-point game in the championship.
The team as a unit worked together cohesively, as nine players found a way to score the ball, while Kaleb Estes led all players with four assists. During a key stretch of the game, Methodist took the Scots on a scoring run to cut the score.
Hoppa took it upon himself to give the team a spark, making a pivotal jumper to go up 4. Then Songster made two free throws in replacement of Joshua Brooks who left the game with an injury. Bowman added 2 points to give them a 9-point lead.
Then, freshman Nick Clifton added 7 consecutive points to give the Scots a
double-digit lead with under one minute and 30-seconds left in the game. At that moment, reality struck and all of the Scots’ bench was up on their feet jumping for joy.
According to mcscots.com, the seniors lead the Scots to a 21-7 regular season record, with an average of 78.2 points per game. With a big push for a late season run, Songster and Hoppa amassed over 1,000 points throughout their career, with Hoppa adding 500 rebounds to his career stat sheet.
Throughout the duration of the season, the Scots shot at 45.1 percent from the field, 39.1 percent from behind the arc, and 71.6 percent at the free throw line. As for the defensive spectrum, the Scots averaged 8.2 steals per game and 5.6 blocks.
As we all know, defense win championships and with opposing teams losing 13 possessions per game was a key aspect to their success. The Scots are anxious to find out where, and who they will be playing in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
As Hoppa said at the beginning of the season, “our goal is to win the conference and make a run in the NCAA tournament.” The first part of the goal is completed for the senior, now it is upon him and the rest of his running mates to make a name for themselves in this year’s tournament.
An amendment from the editor: Unfortunately, our Scots fell short of victory during the first round of the NCAA tournament against Marietta College on March 1. The final score of the game was Scots 77 and Pioneers 101.