Section: Sports

Lords finish injury-plagued season with loss against Hiram

The Lords basketball season ended on Saturday afternoon, when the team lost their final game of the regular season to Hiram College, 87-75. The Lords finished the season in ninth place in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) standings, missing  a playoff berth by two games.

Saturday’s loss concluded an up and down season for the Lords, who finished with an overall record of 7-18 and an NCAC record of 4-14. After starting the season 3-0, the Lords lost ten of their next 11 games to fall deep into the standings.

The Lords will lose seniors Phillip Crampton, Alex Laub, Alexander Powell and Will Sigl, who are all graduating in the spring. “Overall basketball at Kenyon was great for me,” Sigl said. “Coming in with a group of guys who have your back was extremely helpful for me academically and socially.”

This year, combo guard Matt Shifrin ’19 led the Lords  in scoring with 13.3 points per game while shooting 46.8 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from three-point range. Ryan O’Neil ’20 paced the Lords with his 2.9 assists per game, while Laub led the team with 5.3 rebounds per game. Defensively, Sigl led the team in blocks with 0.9 per game, despite ranking only eighth on the team by playing only fifteen minutes per game. Overall, the 0.9 blocks per game ranked seventh in the NCAC.

This season marks the fifth straight losing season for Lords basketball under Head Coach Dan Priest. Since their successful 2012-13 season, during which the Lords went 16-11 and Priest won NCAC Coach of the Year, the program has not had a winning season, bottoming out at 5-21 in 2016-17. Overall, since Priest took over, the Lords have a cumulative record of 78-128, an average record of 9.75 wins and 16 losses, and just one winning season.

“It was a disappointing season,” Sigl said. “We had high hopes coming in, especially after the 3-0 start. We had injuries to key players throughout.”

The primary reason for the team’s struggles is their lack of success in high school recruitment, according to Sigl. Most of the colleges Kenyon competes with for talent are in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) or are established national contenders. For the high school players the team recruits, Sigl said that NESCAC schools are usually closer to home. Appealing to recruits also  comes down to recent success. “It’s hard to overcome the stigma of losing,” Sigl said. “A recruit will pick a winning program simply because they have won if the two schools are about even.”

Next year, the team will likely rely on its current sophomore and junior class.  O’Neil, who started 13 games this past season, will return for his third year with the program. Carter Powell ’20, who started every game for the Lords this season except senior day, will  return for a third season. Powell was the only Lord to average more than 0.5 blocks and 0.5 steals per game and brings a much needed defensive presence to the team. Liam Dwyer ’19, who did not play during this past season because he was studying abroad in Spain, will rejoin the team in the fall.

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