Gators finish season 14-12 after NCAC Tournament exit

Rawls breaks Allegheny College career points record in final games of season

Allegheny College’s Men’s Basketball team defeated Kenyon College 100-77 on Saturday, Feb. 22, in Gambier, Ohio. This victory, along with an 86-82 win against Hiram College at the David V. Wise Center, pushed the Gators’ record to 14-11 and qualified them for the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament.

In their second NCAC tournament since the 2014-15 season, the Gators fell to Wooster College 66-92 on Tuesday, Feb. 25, in Wooster, Ohio. Leading up to the game, the team was optimistic that they could overcome the Fighting Scots.

“It is always a new level of competition when you reach the playoffs,” said Jordan Rawls, ’20. “We lost last year to Wooster, so this game means a lot to us going back to play the same team again. It is our second chance to go at them and hopefully, advance further in the playoffs than we did last year.”

Rawls is a forward who has been on the team for the last four years. During the game against Denison University on Feb. 19, Rawls broke the Allegheny record for cumulative points scored in men’s basketball. He entered the game needing 11 points to reach the previous record of 1,694 and finished with 7 more points, which set the new record to 1,701. Public announcer David Kennedy announced the new record, and the team called a timeout to allow Rawls to receive a standing ovation for his accomplishment.

“I broke the record, and it meant a lot to me,” Rawls said. “I was really happy that I was able to do it, and I could not have broken the record without my teammates.”

Rawls is the 16th player in NCAA Division III history to score over 1,700 points, and he is second on the Allegheny College Career List for rebounds (748).

With a 14-11 record, the team improved upon last season’s 10-15 mark. Morale was high among the team ahead of the tournament with hopes of securing a championship to couple their winning season.

“Our hope is to win this tournament this year,” said Brian Roberts Jr., ’22. “We had high hopes of getting (to the NCAC tournament) last year, which we did, but we lost to Wooster. Despite this, I feel like we can win this year.”

Roberts Jr. is a point guard for the team, and has been playing for the last two years. This was his second time playing in the NCAC tournament against Wooster — he had a desire to make a comeback from last year’s loss.

Roberts Jr. is well-known on the courts, scoring 19 points against Denison and 21 against Hiram. He and Rawls have led the team in points for a majority of games this season. The duo have been a consistent presence on the leaderboard, both with career points reaching the upper twenties.

The team ended the regular collegiate season with a three-game winning streak. On Feb. 15, Allegheny defeated Denison 90-63. They followed this win with another on Feb. 19 against Hiram, 86-82. To end the regular season, the team continued the winning streak on Feb. 22 against Kenyon, 100-77.

“A high point this season, so far, would be ending on a three-game winning streak,” said Keeno Holmes, ’23. “I think it was good for everyone’s morale, and it brought everyone up going into the tournament. For the team as a whole, we are a great group of guys. It has been smooth sailing for the most part. As for the NCAC tournament, stay tuned because we are going to make some waves.”

Holmes is a shooting guard for the team, and this was his first time competing in an NCAC tournament. Even as a first-year student, Holmes has gained a reputation on the courts. In the Denison game, the newcomer contributed 11 points. He continued his double-digit scoring into the last game of the season against Kenyon, where he scored 13 points and made three of his five three-point attempts. He has emerged on the scoring leaderboard for the team multiple times this season and finished the season averaging 9.2 points per game.

The team secured a winning season as well as established a sense of team bonding and spirit. Many members of the team have a desire to improve themselves for the sake of the team.

“Everyone gets along with each other,” Roberts Jr said. “I feel that this is a special group because we all play for each other, and no one wants to let the other person down.”

Despite the loss to Wooster, the team remains optimistic for the future and asked the Allegheny community for support in the future as well as in their NCAC tournament game. Roberts Jr credited the team’s successful season to the backing the team received from the Allegheny community.

“If there is anyway that anyone could come support (us during the tournament), please come support us,” Roberts Jr said. “Our energy comes from the Allegheny College campus and the supporters we have here. We could not have done this without you all.”