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Hawks men’s basketball starts season 3 – 1, wins host tourney

OWENS TO LEAD HILBERT — Coming off newcomer of the year honors last season, Jerame Owens will lead Hilbert in trying to replace standouts like Dan McFarland (right) after a Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference regular season championship season for the Hawks. Photo by Michael Petro.
Coming off a history-making season for the Hilbert College men’s basketball team, the Hawks began the 2013 – 2014 campaign with three straight wins, including a title at their own Tip-Off Tournament.

Hilbert’s winning way finally came to an end, during the weekend at Elmira College. Elmira rallied from a 5-point halftime deficit to down Hilbert 74 – 64. Elmira used its second half effort to seal the win, knocking down 60 percent of its shots after the break, six coming from beyond the arc.

Jerame Owens and Trevor Stark, who have both already been named Hawks of the week by the college, led Hilbert in the loss, as each made 6 of 8 shots from the field and were perfect from the foul line. Owens, a sophomore, recorded a team-high 18 points, having made three 3-point shots; Stark, a junior, added 14 points. Elmira was led by Neil Randolph, who scored a career-high 32 points and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.

Hilbert, last year’s regular season Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference champions, had won their third straight game, to start the season with a 73– 56 non-conference victory against Houghton College. Three Hawks reached double figures scoring, led by Stark’s 17 points. Freshman Jalen Smith finished with a career-high 16 points, sinking 8 of 9 free throws; Owens added 14 points and shared game-high rebounding honors with nine boards, during the win.

Senior guard C.J. Hodge led the Hawks again with five assists, while tossing in 9points (one 3-pointer and the rest from the charity stripe) and freshman Xavier Major hustled to three of the Hawks six team steals.

Also for Hilbert, Owens was named the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference player of the week on Nov. 18, after his two-day performance in the Hilbert College Tip-Off Tournament on Nov. 15 –16.

The 6-foot-6 forward, who was one of the conference’s top rookies last season, had a championship game in which he scored 29 points and pulled down 20 rebounds, while blocking three shots and dishing five assists. The Spencerport native shot 63.3 percent (19 of 30) from the floor and averaged 3.5 assists, 2.5 steals and 20.5 points with 14 rebounds per game, during the two-day tournament.

Hilbert defeated Alfred State 93 – 39 on Nov. 15 and Owens carried the Hawks to an 88 – 80 victory against Utica College the next afternoon, giving Hilbert its first Tip-Off Tournament title. Owens was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

Also in the championship game win against Utica, Major added 14 points, going 6 of 8 from the floor, and added three steals from the front line. Hodge had a game- high seven assists to go along with his 8 points and Stark finished with 13 points and four steals and was selected to the all-tournament team. Off the bench, Smith’s 9 points and freshman Paul Rath’s six rebounds, 3 points and three assists helped Hilbert to the win.

In the Hawks’ opening round win, Stark led all scorers with 15 points and dished off four assists to go with two steals, while Smith came off the bench and shot 50 percent from the floor and finished with 13 points, three assists and two steals.

Coming off of last year’s record-breaking 20 – 6 season for Hilbert, the AMCC Preseason Coaches’ Poll has the Hawks picked to finish fourth in the 10-team conference. DIII News pegged the Hawks as the team to repeat as the AMCC regular season title holders.

“With success comes greater responsibility,” Hilbert’s 12th-year head coach Rob deGrandpre said, on the team’s website. “Our players know that all of our opponents have our game highlighted on their schedules. We’ll have to be at our best right from the start if we are going to continue to build on last year’s success.”

Hilbert lost three starters, including All-AMCC First Team guards Dan McFarland, who ranks as one of the program’s top players, and Anthony Hodge.

Owens, who recorded 10 double-doubles and averaged averaging 11.4 points and 8.9 rebounds last season, will be joined up front by 6-10 junior Mike Jones, who last season averaged 3.3 points and 2.8 rebounds, and 6-foot-5 junior Ryan Brewster, who averaged 13.3 minutes, 2.0 points and 2.4 points.

At small forward will be Major, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, and 6-4 junior Jordan Kumro, who shot 60 percent from the field a year ago.

In the backcourt is four-year starter Hodge, who is now third all-time on the Hawks’ leaderboard for assists, and Stark, after he enjoyed a breakthrough sophomore season, contributing 11.6 points, including leading the Hawks with 31 3-point field goals.

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