Players on the Castleton State College men’s basketball team have started warming up to each other in winning four out of their last eight games.The Spartan’s opened up there season on Nov. 17 against New England College. With the largest crowd Glenbrook Gymnasium has ever seen, Castleton fell to the Pilgrims due to a buzzer-beater launched by NEC’s Andrew MacDonald. MacDonald only played in the final two minutes of the overtime. Sophomore Derrick Faragon paced the Spartans offense with 15 points, while sophomores Jared Paul and Greg Hughes each tallied 13 and freshman Kevin Eisenberg added 11 off the bench.
After the disappointing home opener, Castleton won their next two games against MCLA 80-69 and Cazenovia 103-89, clinching the Tome Greene Memorial Tournament championship hosted by Head Coach Paul Culpo’s previous team, Hartwick College.
Graduate Assistant Tim Sparks can clearly see a difference in this year’s squad compared to last.
“The players are competing much harder in practice this year. Most of the time, our practices are tougher than the games we play.”
Tough practices did not prepare the Spartans for long, because they went on a two-game losing streak to Plymouth State 76-59 and Middlebury 88-58. In Castleton’s defense, Middlebury is ranked ninth in the nation, according to NCAA.com.
The losses did not phase the Spartans, as they traveled to Colby Sawyer on Dec. 8 and pulled off a 72-68 upset of the Chargers. Castleton was down by as many as 16 points before it launched a stellar comeback, leading to the win. Faragon paced all scorers with 21 points, with Paul adding nine points and Mark Comstock and Dave Cochran netting seven apiece.
Coach Culpo was very pleased with the win at Colby Sawyer. “The Colby Sawyer game was our biggest game to date. To beat them on the road and come from behind was a great moment.” said Culpo. “That was the game that could very well define us as a team”.
This past weekend, the Spartans traveled to Bard College to play in the Raptors Classic Basketball Tournament. Castleton played tournament host Bard and won the first game 75-70. The Spartans never lost the lead in the entire 40 minutes of play. Junior Mike Knight led all scorers with 21 points and Faragon and freshman Logan White contributed 14 each.
On Saturday, the Spartans played in the championship game, eventually falling to Medgar-Evers 85-76. Farragon led the offensive attack with 21 points, while Comstock and Paul added 14 and Knight dropped in 12.
“We need to continue to work toward getting better and staying on course to become a competitive post season team” said Culpo. “I know they can do it, now the guys need to believe that they can.”
Castleton is back on the court after the new year, hosting Skidmore College on Sunday, Jan. 3, at Glenbrook Gymnasium. Tip off time is slated for 4 p.m.