Sad end for Spartan hoops

A grey-haired and teary-eyed Bret Favre recently reminded all sports fans of a simple and undeniable rule of sport: all good things must come to an end. Such was the case for Castleton State College basketball players for the 2007-2008 year. Both the men and women Spartan teams were ousted recently from their respective NAC conference tournaments.

For the men, they saw their high-scoring season come to an end on the road on Tuesday, Feb. 26. Matched against Lesley in the quarterfinal round of the tournament, the Spartan men were held to their lowest point total of the entire season in a 76-55 loss.

This was an outcome unforeseen by the Spartans who had previously displayed a potent offense. Averaging more than 84 points per contest entering this game, the Spartans were among the national leaders for scoring offense in Division III basketball.

The game was never really close. Lesley scored the first 10 points of the game, and extended the lead to 16 entering halftime.

Lesley did an outstanding job shutting off junior guard Josh Howe, the Spartans’ leading scorer. Howe, who averaged over 19 points per game for the season, was held to only 10 points. A normally high percentage shooter, Howe went only 4-12 from the field. Howe’s inability find the basket was indicative of the rest of his team’s play.

Senior point guard Richard Reilly led the team with 14 points, but also struggled with his shot.

The loss was the second to Lesley this year, and marked the end of a good year for head coach Ted Shipley’s squad. The Spartans finished with a record of 15-11 (8-5 in the NAC).

After the game, Howe was honored by being named to the NAC men’s basketball all-conference first team. Howe averaged nearly 21 points per game in the NAC, and was near the top of several other statistical categories.

Reilly was also honored with a spot on the NAC men’s basketball all-conference second team. The loss to Lesley put an end to a fantastic career by the quick guard. Reilly would end his career ranked fifth in all-time scoring at Castleton and first in all-time assists, a record he broke earlier this year.

For the Spartan women, the season ended much the same, but was perhaps even more heartbreaking.

Just as in the men’s game, offense seemed to take a momentary leave of absence in Castleton’s 54-42 Final Four loss to Becker College on Friday, Feb. 29.

The loss was the first the lady Spartans had seen in Glenbrook Gymnasium this year. Their 42 points matched the second lowest point total of the season.

Castleton, ranked number one in the NAC conference tournament, hosted Becker College after handily defeating Thomas College in the quarterfinals.

The Spartans came into the game on a roll, winning their previous five games, including a 10-point victory over Becker two weeks before. The women were also a dominant 13-2 against NAC foes on the season.

But in this game, there would be no such display of dominance. A feisty Becker defense kept the game close heading into halftime, and Castleton held on to a 21-20 lead.

The second half would see much of the same, except for a 19-2 Becker run nearly midway through the half. This would prove to be the difference in the game, as a poor shooting Spartans squad struggled to muster up a comeback.

Junior guard Mary Nienow led the Spartans with 12 points. Junior guard LeeAnne Ketchen played well, tallying 8 points and 7 rebounds.

However, these efforts just weren’t enough to overcome a game filled with shooting woes for the Spartans. The ladies would finish the game making only 17 of their 56 field goal attempts, including only 3 of 20 attempted three-point shots.

The lady Spartans finished the year 19-8, with in impressive NAC conference record of 13-3.

And the loss didn’t stop the NAC from awarding some individual accolades to members of the Spartans team. Junior guard Jessica Banks was named to the NAC women’s basketball all-conference first team. Banks averaged 8.6 points per game for the Spartans. She also led the team with 4.7 rebounds per game. This individual honor comes one year after Banks was named to the NAC all-conference second team as a sophomore.

Head coach Tim Barrett was also honored. Barrett, in his seventh season as head coach, was named NAC Coach of the Year.

In addition to these individual honors, the Spartans were also awarded with the Team Sportsmanship Award.

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