By Kyle Lutz, Sports Editor
The 2010-2011 men’s basketball season made history. Coming back from a 33-1 record and reaching the division II Final Four, the West Liberty University basketball team is back and ready to start where they left off.
Last year, the Hilltoppers started off with a bang by scoring a record 154 points in the first game of the season.
It only took West Liberty two days to break that record, scoring 157 points in their second game.
Throughout the year, the Hilltoppers scored 100 points or more in 25 of their 34 games.
They cruised to an undefeated regular season capturing the WVIAC conference for the second straight year, along with winning the WVIAC tournament.
They made it to the NCAA Elite Eight with an 89-86 victory over Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the ASRC.
But all Cinderella stories have to end somehow.
After beating Anderson University 113-95, the Hilltoppers advanced to the NCAA division II Final Four, but fell to BYU-Hawaii by a score of 110-101.
“One of the things that made last year’s team so special is that our four senior starters came into our system as backups and developed into 1,000-point scorers on a Final Four team,” Head Coach, Jim Crutchfield said to Hilltoppersports.com.
“Our returning players all received significant playing time and we brought in some impact newcomers so we’re very optimistic that this year’s group is ready to step up to the challenge, as well.
Coming into this season, the Hilltoppers are only returning one starter, junior guard, Alex Falk.
Four of the other starters are now graduated, all leaving their mark at West Liberty.
Barry Shetzer is the all time leader in three point field goals at West Liberty University (284).
Corey Pelle leaves his legacy behind with the most assists (652) and the most steals (331) for the Hilltoppers. He was also named First Team Division II All American team.
John Wolosinczuk has the most blocked shots (217).
Jordan Fourtney is the best three point shooter that West Liberty has had, having a 43.6 shooting percentage.
Three of the four are now playing professional basketball overseas.
Even though four starters are gone, there is still a lot of depth in the Hilltoppers roster.
Falk comes back to the Hilltop as the only starter. Last year, Falk averaged 13.3 points per game.
He was second on the team in steals totaling 70 and was the most accurate shooter last year with a team high, 60 percent from the field; while cashing out six 20 point games.
“The goals for this season are the same as they always are: To win the regular season conference title, and the conference tournament. After that, make it as far as we can in the national tournament,” Falk said about the team’s goals.
Chris Morrow, now a junior was a key player for the Hilltoppers last season. He comes into this season averaging ten points a game. He was second on the team last year with 36 blocked shots and scored in double figures in 19 games.
Tim Hausfeld was another key contributor to the team. Last year he appeared in all 34 games and was just as good of a three point shooter as Shetzer and Foutney were.
Hausfeld was third on the team behind the arc totaling 58 for the season. His nickname can almost be “Mr. Automatic” from the free throw line leading the team with an unbelievable 88 percent.
Mark Shadowens was the only freshman last year and was named to the WVIAC All-Freshman Team. Shadowens had eight double figure scoring games including a 23 point performance against Davis & Elkins.
Other returners are Jeff Yunetz, Nick Brown, Michael Lopez, Jordan Fee, Shawn Dyer and Keene Cockburn.
Because of the team’s 2010-2011 success, they were able to get a variety of incoming freshmen and a transfer.
A transfer from Wheeling Jesuit, Cedric Harris is now in his former neighboring rival’s uniform. With an outstanding year at Jesuit, Harris was able to capture the 2009 WVIAC Freshman of the Year award.
In that year, he led the WVIAC Conference and was second in the nation in free throw percentage (92.6%).
Bubby Goodwin is an incoming freshman that is the only three time First Team All-West Virginia in an AAA class in Wheeling Park history.
Goodwin holds the Patriot’s record in 3-point field goals with 202 and has 1,555 career points. He will be sitting out the season as a redshirt. Marquez O’Neil also is a Wheeling Park alumni where he average 17 points and 7.5 rebounds his senior year to help the Patriots earn a trip to the state championship game. He will be redshirted this year.
Mike Lamberti is a standout out of South Fayette High School where he is the leading scorer with over 1,500 points and has grabbed about 1,000 rebounds. He was the 2010 Observer-Reporter Player of the Year.
C.J. Hester, a graduate from
West Miffilin (Pa.) where he holds the record for points with 1,709. He was the first player in school history to reach that milestone. During his senior year, he averaged 18.9 points a game and 11 rebounds.
Not only are there new faces on the court, there is a new face that will be on the sidelines; a new face that is ever so familiar with the Hilltop.
Ben Howlett, a West Liberty alumni will be the new assistant coach for the Hilltoppers.
Howlett is replacing Eric Bovaird after he was hired as the head coach at Chaminade University (Hawaii).
He is currently eleventh on the all time scoring list for West Liberty with 1,663 points.
The team is currently ranked as the number six team in the NABC Preseason NCAA Division II Top 25 Poll. Defending Division II champion, Bellarmine (KY) is ranked number one.
“I cannot wait for the games to start, especially our first home game against Findlay U,” Falk said.
Last weekend, the Hilltoppers traveled to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania for the Wolf Bus Lines invitational.
On Saturday, the Hilltoppers got a run for their money, but they were able to pull out on top, defeating East Stroudsburg University 96-92.
On Sunday, the Hilltoppers pulled out a victory over Shippensburg University 101-72.
After the victory, Cedric Harris and Alex Falk were named to the Wolf Bus Lines Classic All Tournament Team.
The Hilltoppers will be in action tomorrow at home as they take on number seven ranked University of Findlay.Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
They defeated Ohio Valley in their first game of the season 92-62.