Section: Sports

Lords basketball’s senior day comes amid three close losses

Lords basketball’s senior day comes amid three close losses

By Ben Payner

After a crucial 66-62 win at Denison University, Lords basketball returned home and lost a hard-fought battle against DePauw University 66-61. The Lords need to win out and hope for some Oberlin College losses in order to make the North Coast Athletic Conference  (NCAC) tournament. Oberlin’s loss to Ohio Wesleyan University last night means that Kenyon still has a shot at the tournament. After their own loss last night to Wittenberg University, however, winning this Saturday’s game at Wabash College has become even more important for the Lords.

Kenyon relied on its seniors, Jonathan Amador ’15, John Bray ’15 and Cooper Handelsman ’15, to get the win in a gritty game at Denison. Amador and Bray each scored 21 points in 31 minutes of play. Amador, whose shooting is starting to heat up, knocked down a season-high six threes on eight attempts. Bray added eight rebounds, and Handelsman dished out a game-high seven assists and closed out the game from the free-throw line, scoring the Lords’ last six points. Amador came out scorching hot, knocking down his first three attempts from deep, which set the tone for the rest of the game. The Lords took a nine-point lead into the half and stretched their lead to as many as 17 points in the middle of the second half before Denison fought back to make it closer down the stretch. However, the Lords led the game from start to finish.

The DePauw loss was especially tough because the game was neck-and-neck the entire way. Connor Garrity ’15, the oft-injured fourth captain, got a well-deserved start on senior day along with Handelsman, Bray and Amador. Alexander Powell ’18 rounded out the starting five. Amador continued his hot shooting, knocking down three threes en route to 13 points. Over his last two games Amador has gone 9-15 (60 percent) from deep. Bray put in 10 points, his eighth-straight double-digit scoring contest, and Handelsman once again dished out seven assists. Tim Connolly ’16 was the Lords’ best offensive player; he scored 16 points on 5-11 shooting and 3-6 (50 percent) from deep. 

Neither team ever led by more than nine points. The real difference-makers were free-throw attempts. DePauw got to the line eight more times than the Lords did (22-14) and outscored the Lords from the line by six. The Lords had a chance to tie with less than 10 seconds to play but an Amador three was off the mark. DePauw got the rebound and made the free throws to seal the game. 

After the game, the seniors were in a reflective mood for many reasons, not only because of the close loss but because of it being their second-to-last home game as Kenyon basketball players. “It’s not the wins and losses that I will remember the most; rather, the long bus rides, tough practices, Cracker Barrel meals and all of the things in between that don’t show up in a box score or win column,” Amador said. “I’ve had great teammates turn into life-long friends and … I will miss it like crazy.” 

“These last four years have been an incredible journey,” Handelsman said. “Even though every season in all sports has its ups and downs, I will never forget the time I got to spend on the court with my teammates over the last four years.”

Bray added, “The relationships — with teammates, coaches, Kenyon employees and fans — that’s what I cherish the most. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world.”

“There’s been a lot of ups and downs but through it all, we’ve really come together as brothers,” Garrity said. “I’ve been blessed to have spent four years with some great people who are truly like family.” 

For now, the seniors can focus on winning these next two games and keeping their basketball careers going for as long as possible. Last night, the Lords played Wittenberg in Tomsich Arena and lost in a close game 80-75. Witteberg was in the lead for the majority of the game, but the Lords put up a strong effort in late in the second half to try to close the gap between the scores. With just 34 seconds left in the game, Kenyon was only behind by one, as Witteberg led 76-75. The Lords were unable to capitalize on this opportunity, and the Tigers scored another four points. The Lords next travel to Crawfordsville, Indiana to play Wabash College.


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