Quality teams in Rams basketball tourney
Wheeling Jesuit went 25-8 last season. Gannon was 18-10 and finished second in the West Division of the PSAC. Shepherd completed a fourth-place season in the Mountain East Conference and had a 19-11 record. Bowie State played the role of spoiler in the CIAA tournament and qualified for the Atlantic Regional tournament where it lost to national runner-up Fairmont State.
That is the four-team field for this year’s Clarion Hotel and Conference Center men’s basketball tournament that begins this evening at 5:30 p.m. and continues with two more games tomorrow beginning at 4 p.m. in Shepherd’s Butcher Center.
It’s Wheeling Jesuit, picked to win the Mountain East Conference by a vote of the league’s coaches, going against Gannon in tonight’s first game that will be followed by Shepherd against Bowie State.
The Cardinals will see Bowie State on Saturday at 4 p.m. while Shepherd caps the two-day event against Gannon at about 6:10 p.m.
Wheeling Jesuit is coached by Danny Sancomb, who has a 215-117 overall record at the Northern Panhandle school. The Cardinals twice defeated Shepherd last year, winning 85-72 and 86-66.
Pat Moseh (16.2), Haywood Highsmith (15.3) and Preston Boswell (13.5) are Wheeling Jesuit’s leading returning scorers from a team that actually hosted last season’s Atlantic Regional.
Gannon went 18-10 last season and finished behind only Indiana in the PSAC West Division. Coach John Reilly begins his 13th season and has amassed 441 wins at the Erie, Pa., school.
Three Golden Knight starters return led by Zay Jackson. Gannon was selected to finish second again in its division by a vote of the league’s coaches.
Bowie State completed a 16-15 overall record in a loss to Fairmont in the Atlantic Regional. Fairmont would win the regional and go all the way to the NCAA Division II national championship game before losing.
Bulldog Coach Darrell Brooks has a 113-58 overall record since coming to Bowie State after serving as an assistant at George Washington.
Coach Justin Namolik begins his ninth season as Shepherd’s head coach. The Rams finished fourth in the 12-school league last season and then went to the conference tournament semifinals for the first time in Namolik’s tenure at Shepherd.
The Rams have a formidable group of starters in guard Steffen Davis (16.4 points a game), center/forward AJ Carr (15.7 points and 7.4 rebounds a game), Gavin McTavish (7.4 points and four rebounds) and center Winston Burgess (8.2 points and 5.3 rebounds). A group of five freshmen join the team and some player(s) has to provide some live firepower to the Ram offense.
As a group, this is the most talented field of teams ever to come to this season-opening tournament.
Wheeling Jesuit was here last year and won both its games before going to a prized season later on.
Shepherd won’t be back home again until Dec. 2 after these two games against high-powered competition.