2020-2021 St.Ed’s men’s basketball team concludes season amid COVID-19 pandemic

The 2020-21 St. Edward’s men’s basketball season has come to an end after their battle in the Lone Star Conference title game. The Hilltoppers fell short to West Texas A&M in a 108-98 loss on March 6, finishing the season with a 12-8 overall record (9-7 record in conference games).  The ending of the season gave us a chance to catch up with coach Andre Cook and two of his players who played a big part in leading the Hilltoppers in a position to win the Lone Star Conference Tournament. 

Due to extra protocols in place throughout the season, Cook said “this was quite different from any season any of us have ever experienced. Constant testing, mask-wearing, no fans, not being able to do any team building and all the other protocols that made this season extremely difficult.” The Hilltoppers started the season strong with an 8-1 record, but as the season wore on, the safety protocols began taking a toll on the Hilltoppers. The team was forced to cancel nine games throughout the season due to COVID-19 protocols and the winter storm that rocked Texas in mid-February. 

“After the storms hit Texas and we had eight days away from each other, we all did a lot of soul searching. We came back from those storms happy to see each other with a renewed vigor. It was a great way to head into the postseason,” Cook says.

On March 3, just one day after the Hilltoppers upset the number one seed, LCU, B.J. Maxwell was named LSC Newcomer of the Year. Maxwell also earned a spot on the All-LSC First Team

“I’m appreciative to my teammates and coaches for believing in me…receiving those awards was a testimony to my work ethic. I trust my craft and [I] stay dedicated to the process,” Maxwell said.

As a Texas native, Maxwell was eager to come home and perform for a hometown crowd. When asked if he could describe his short time at St. Edward’s in three words, Maxwell responded with “appreciate every blessing.” During this season, Maxwell led the team in scoring by averaging 18.6 points while also averaging 5.3 assists

As for senior guard Ryan Garza, he spent his entire four-year career at St. Edward’s. He helped the Hilltoppers make the postseason three out of four years and helped guide them to a Conference Championship in the 2018-19 season. 

While reflecting on  his time on the team, Garza said, “These past 4 seasons here were more than I could’ve asked for. I am forever thankful for the opportunity to grow both as a player and as a person under Coach Cook. As for my teammates, they made my college experience one I’ll never forget.” 

This season, Garza averaged 10.1 points along with 3.1 assists. During his four year career at St. Edward’s, Garza was named LSC Academic Player of the Year in 2020, LSC All-Academic Team in 2020 and 2021, LSC Commissioner’s Honor Roll in the Fall of 2019 and was named to the Heartland Conference President’s Honor Roll in the Fall of 2018 and Spring of 2019. Garza advises newcomers to “learn to welcome adversity… handling your responsibilities and keeping yourself accountable in academics and athletics can seem difficult at times, but it is the perfect preparation for anything you might encounter later in life.”

As we wish the best to the senior class of 2021, we look forward to the beginning of a new era for the St. Edward’s men’s basketball program.