Basketball teams fall short at conference tournament

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Jeff Huehn

Senior Reggie Shanks goes in for a layup.

Kayla Meyer

The St. Edward’s University women’s and men’s basketball teams ended their season after playing in the Heartland Conference Tournament.

The women’s basketball team made it to the semifinals of the tournament after taking down Lincoln University (12-15) 78-75 in the first round.

That game, on March 4, went into overtime. After Lincoln took the lead with three minutes left in the game, two free throws by senior Sara Head and a shot by senior Kelli Payton brought the lead up to three. The Hilltoppers would sink four of six free throws to seal the game.

Payton led the Hilltoppers with 21 points, along with five rebounds and three assists. Sophomore Brittany Ward contributed with 16 points and five assists.

The women’s basketball team then went on to the semifinals March 5. The Hilltoppers lost to the University of the Incarnate Word (20-8) 48-66.

“Overall, making the tournament was a huge part to our team’s success story this year,” Ward said. “We weren’t expected to win or go anywhere this year, and we reached the second round of our conference tournament.”

This was the last game for Head, Payton, and seniors Sophia Holguin and Tiss Rocquemore. The Hilltoppers ended their season with a 9-20 record.

“This year has been extremely challenging [with] injuries and other obstacles,” Ward said. “Our team has a ton of heart and character to achieve what we achieved this year.”

This was the Hilltopper’s fifth-straight season in the Heartland Conference Tournament.

The men’s basketball team (12-16) lost in the first round of the tournament to St. Mary’s University 76-56 March 4.

In the first three minutes of the game, St. Edward’s got off to a rough start as St. Mary’s ran up the lead to 7-1.

“We needed to get off to a good start against St. Mary’s and unfortunately we didn’t,” Head Coach Andre Cook said. “We missed some easy shots early and it was an uphill battle the whole night.  I was proud that the guys battled for 40 minutes, but we really never threatened St. Mary’s.”

This was the first season with the St. Edward’s men’s basketball team for Cook.

“I wouldn’t consider 12-16 to be a smashing success in my first year on the Hilltop, but I have to give the players a ton of credit,” said Cook. “Our guys really bonded together to finish the season strong to make the conference tournament.”

Although the team will lose seniors Cory Griffin, Reggie Shanks, Bobby Watkins and Jannik Zimmer this season, Cook believes there is a bright future for the team.

“Although the season didn’t go as well as we thought it would, I felt that a new foundation was laid for the future of St. Edward’s basketball,” Griffin said. “Our team overcame a tremendous amount of adversity despite getting off to a rocky start to the year. “

Griffin said this season provided a valuable learning experience that will help the maturity of the team.

“I’m extremely honored to have been part of a new chapter in our men’s basketball program,”  Griffin said.