While the majority of students were finishing mid-terms and getting ready for spring break, the men’s basketball and hockey team were busy gearing up for their biggest games of the season.
Starting with the men’s basketball team, they were already in the midst of their tournament run. The team finished their regular season with a record of 22-6, with that 6th loss in the Commonwealth Coast Conference championship against rival Nichols College in Dudley, Massachusetts. Since the team did not win the CCC championship, they would have to earn an at-large from the NCAA for the tournament.
After Saturday’s game against Nichols, the team feared for the next 48 hours whether their season had ended. Monday’s 12:30 selection show was intense. It was at 12:48 when the men saw ‘Endicott’ pop up on the screen. The doubt had subsided, and the men knew they were in. After some technical difficulties with the NCAA website, which indicated the men were traveling to Neumann University (Southern Pennsylvania) in one section and Susquehanna University (Western Pennsylvania) in the other, they were finally confirmed to go to Neumann University in Pennsylvania to play Salisbury.
Given a short week to prepare for the 16th ranked team in the country, the team worked throughout the week up until Friday’s game. After the 6 ½ hour journey south, the men prepared to face one of their toughest tasks of the season.
In Friday’s game, it was the guard play that really carried the team, with Senior Kamahl Walker leading the way with 32 points in the 71-68 victory. Senior Max Motroni followed closely with 18 points. After some unfortunate calls against Senior Daquan Sampson, he struggled with foul trouble throughout the game, and had to spend a lot of time on the bench. Despite that, the men held on to beat nationally ranked Salisbury in the first round of the tournament. The men went from not knowing whether their season was complete to moving on to the second round, with the next game a rematch against Nichols the next day.
Given the history of these two teams, this seemed like only a story that Hollywood could right. The Endicott men’s basketball team was given a chance at redemption after the CCC championship. Not only did the team take advantage, they put a beating on them 111-75, one-point shy of the program record for points. This time, it was Motroni who led the way in scoring with 34 points. Overall, the team shot 54.3% from the field and 47.5% (19-40) from 3-point land.
Next, the team would practice the last week before spring break, preparing for 6th ranked Middlebury who they had already beaten early on this year. This time, the opposition would have home court advantage. Between that and a harshly cold start from the field for the Gulls, who made their first three with 9:24 left in the first, showed that Middlebury was too tough to handle. The Gulls would finish 9-41 (22%) from 3-point range, and 25-75 (33.3%) from the field. Middlebury would go on to lose in the Elite Eight against Williams College, 79-75.
Despite what happened in Middlebury, this men’s basketball team took the Endicott Men’s Basketball program to new heights, making it farther than any other team before them.
Endicott Men’s Hockey:
A little different from the Men’s Basketball team, the Men’s Hockey earned an auto-bid into the smaller Division 3 Hockey Tournament, and were expected to get in regardless of their thrilling late win in the CCC championship against University of New England.
Despite the team only being in its second season as a varsity club, they were ranked 7/7 nationally coming into the NCAA tournament. They would take on 4/5 Hobart on their home ice, the day after the men’s basketball team lost to Middlebury.
The underclassmen heavy Gulls came out swinging early, with a quick goal from Frank Spellman which would set the tone for Tommy Besigner and Jason Kalinowski to put up two more in the second. About two minutes after the third goal, Hobart awoke from their first half slumber. Over the next four minutes, the top ranked team would erase the Gulls lead, ending the second period tied. Thankfully, the young Gulls team regained their composure. A centering pass to first year Jason Kalinowski let him pound it home, to give the Gulls the lead with just under 10 minutes to go. Goaltender Kevin Aldridge then stayed strong despite pressure late from Hobart. He would finish with 40 saves.
With the 4-3 win against Hobart, the Gulls would move on to play #9 Trinity in Connecticut. Despite Endicott’s higher ranking, Trinity would be the home team, undenounced to the viewing audience.
In this game, the Gulls would meet their match, but would need extra hockey for that to happen. The Gulls got on the board first in the second period, with a goal from Josh Powes on the power play. Then, Trinity would score late on the period, also on the power play. Then, it would take some extra hockey to find a winner. Both teams had many chances back and forth throughout the third and first overtime periods. The dagger came after a failed power play by the Gulls. Despite the loss, Endicott’s goaltender Kevin Aldridge would have a record 67 saves.
Unlike the basketball team, the hockey team is only graduating two seniors. This young team, and program, is still growing. What this run did is gained experience for the underclassmen heavy team, and let the rest of division three know, the Gulls are here to stay.