Section: Sports

Men’s basketball fights hard, defending at their best

Men’s basketball fights hard, defending at their best

Forward Will Sigl ’18 (22) battles under the basket against post player Ben Simpson (21) in Saturday’s 72-57 loss to Ohio Wesleyan University’s Battling Bishops. Photo by Noah Nash

Though the Lords lost to the Ohio Wesleyan University Battling Bishops 72-57 on Saturday and to the Denison University Big Red 71-67 on Wednesday night, they gave the Kenyon crowd plenty of reason to cheer. One of those reasons was a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward from Lewisburg, Pa., Will Sigl.

This season Kenyon (8-14, 5-10 NCAC) has played Sigl quite a bit, with the forward averaging 7.8 minutes, 2.5 points and 1.9 rebounds per game. Over the Lords’ last four games, he has averaged 16 minutes per game. “Will continues to either surprise and impress or show that he has the ability to do really good things for us,” Assistant Coach Kevin Sullivan said. “That accumulation of positive things he does on the floor has allowed him to be a guy we can go to late in the season.” Anyone who saw Sigl play against OWU (19-2, 12-3 NCAC), ranked 10th in the nation, knows how impressive he can be.

Sigl checked into the game for the first time with 9:36 left in the first half, playing all 15 of his minutes alongside center Brien Comey ’16. While Sigl and Comey shared the floor the Lords held their opponents to a 30.4-percent field-goal percentage, compared to 41.2 percent for the game, and for a seven-minute stretch in the second half the Battling Bishops missed all nine of their shot attempts. Both Sullivan and Head Coach Dan Priest praised the team’s overall defense.

“Ohio Wesleyan is the leading scoring team in our league, and we held them far below their average,” Priest said.

Sigl gives most of the credit to his teammates. “Brien’s a good defensive player,” he said. “I can play a little bit more aggressively with him back there, but I think as a whole team we played better defensively during that stretch.”

During the second half, Sigl also poured his energy into the offense. In one exhilarating minute, he scored a layup, stole the ball and sprinted down the court to finish another. Twice after that, he followed his own miss and finished strong in the paint, cutting OWU’s lead to 11, then eight. He came away from those battles shouting and clapping, the crowd and his bench cheering behind him.

Sigl’s play this season is characteristic of a Kenyon team that has called on its players to contribute however they can. Shooting woes doomed the Lords on Saturday, but their defense never flagged. Comey, despite going 3-12 from the field, cleaned the glass, snagging 15 rebounds.

Starting point guard Tim Connolly ’16, after scoring only five points in the first half, found his rhythm in the second, finishing with 18 points. Even then, scoring wasn’t on his mind — the team was. “I’ve talked to the coaches about being a senior leader and things I have to do,” Connolly said. “Scoring aside, my goal was just to bring energy in whatever form it took.”

In Wednesday night’s game against the Denison University Big Red (13-9, 8-7 NCAC), Sigl played  19 minutes, his season high, and impressed again, leading Kenyon with five rebounds. Phillip Crampton ’18 poured in 11 points, and Connolly led the team with 21 points, but the Lords fell just short of a win.

Despite the two losses this week, the Lords should be proud of their defensive grit, and Sigl’s emergence is a silver lining in the team’s recent rash of losses. With his hard work, he has carved out a role for himself on a talented roster. “I think a testament to Will is he practices the way that he plays,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t change anything about the way he conducts himself at practice.”

Sigl certainly shows no lack of determination. After a frustrating home loss against Oberlin College on Jan. 27, the crowd filed out, and the teams headed to their locker rooms. A few students descended from the stands to attempt trick shots and reverse layups, rebounding with easy laughs. The scoreboard blinked off.

A few minutes later, with the court finally sinking into quiet, the arena doors swung open and one Kenyon player returned to the hardwood — Sigl, still in his warmups. Quietly and without distraction, he scooped up a loose ball and walked to the far end of the court. There, he practiced shoulder fakes, drop steps and pivot moves long after everyone else had gone for the night.


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