With a first-place conference standing and overall 17-3 performance this season, the men’s basketball team continues its winning streak as the Seahawks prepare for their next game against the University of Mary Washington.
The athletes began the season on Nov. 20 with an impressive 83-56 non-conference victory at McDaniel College, as senior captain Camontae Griffin and junior captain Alex Franz led the team in a strong performance on the court against the Green Terror.
The Seahawks continued to defend their title in the subsequent games at the Pride of Maryland Championship on Nov. 21, presented by M&T Bank, and against Hood College on Nov. 22 for non-conference 78-76 and 89-77 victories, respectively.
Despite an 11-point loss the following week against Franklin & Marshall College, St. Mary’s rebounded with another three-game streak against Marymount (Va.), Stevenson, and Salisbury Universities, all conference wins that brought the College to a 6-1 spread by Dec. 9.
“This is a completely different team from our ’08-’09 team,” said Griffin. “We are very young this year, but we stick together through tough situations on the court and believe in each other.”
The team’s cooperation on the court became even more apparent on Dec. 19, when St. Mary’s began a month-long winning streak after a 64-61 conference loss against York College on Dec. 12. With a close 70-69 Hampden-Sydney Tournament win on Dec. 30, during which Franz was named the tournament MVP, a 65-54 conference triumph over Hood College on Jan. 20 placed the College in 16th place in Division III.
“We are a very, very close team; ten of us live in a house together and the other players are always over,” said Franz. “I think a key reason for our success is the closeness and chemistry we have as friends.”
The team’s performance holds strong despite the loss of junior captain Mike Fitzpatrick to a season-ending injury and a strong presence of new athletes, five of the fourteen players being first-years at St. Mary’s.
“We’ve really grown into a family this season,” said Fitzpatrick. “This team expects to go to the national tournament, and that’s something new to this program.”
The Seahawks suffered their second conference loss of the season the following week on Jan. 23, as Salisbury boasted a 76-66 victory over St. Mary’s. The team restored the balance four days later with a home-game conference victory against Marymount (84-61) and two consecutive away-game victories against Stevenson and Christopher Newport University, bringing the Seahawk spread to 17-3 with a 9-2 conference record.
The College will next play a conference game against Mary Washington on Feb. 7 due to weather conditions that cancelled the Feb. 6 game. “[Mary Washington] plays smart,” said Franz. “Our first game was close against them, so I’m expecting another good game.”
Standing 20th place in Division III basketball, St. Mary’s will defend its title in the upcoming five conference games, ending with a Feb. 20 home game against York at 4 p.m.