Unsung heroes: The sixth player(s)

Every team has its starting five players who usually play all game, but the Castleton men’s basketball team has a solid six players who are consistently performing from the bench. For the Spartans, a glance at the roster shows the youth on the team this year, but youth hasn”t stopped this group.Over the last five games, Castleton’s bench has averaged 32.4 points per game, 12.8 rebounds, and 6.8 assists.

“The players that don’t start bring energy and intensity to the game that the starters are not providing,” Knight said.

Freshman Matt Cooney agrees.

“We have a deep team. Our starters have confidence in the bench to do their job while they are out and coach believes in us and in almost every game a new person steps up and does whatever is asked of them,” said Cooney, a player who receives many minutes in each game, even though he’s not a starter.

Castleton is 13-9 with an 8-3 record in the North Atlantic Conference, which puts the team in second behind Husson University.

Saturday, Feb. 12, Husson came to Castleton to defend its top spot in the NAC.

Only seconds into the first quarter, fouls were sending both teams continuously to the line. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to Castleton’s benefit. The team had a rocky start. After the second timeout, the Spartans had a different mindset returning to the game.

“We had to take a step back and regain our confidence and composure,” said sophomore Kevin Eisenberg, who is another non-starter logging big minutes. “Coach just reminded us of the game plan and to execute or it was going to be a long night.”

The coach sent the team back with a memory of what they’re capable of. Senior Mike Knight started charging straight through to the net, making multiple layups. With the help from his teammates, the Spartans got back into the game, finishing the first half trailing by one point, 28-27.

“Playing under Coach Culpo requires players to exert tons of energy and because of that we run guys in and out of the game,” Eisenberg said.

Jared Paul and Husson’s Eric Modica opened the second half with a scramble under the hoop, which ended in Paul’s favor. Mark Comstock went to the foul line to help bring Castleton one point closer to tying it, 30-28.

It became an up-and-down the court game. The score remained close, but Paul finally pushed it to a tie then a one point lead after making two foul shots.

With three minutes left in the game, and the score tied 58-58, Cooney and Greg Hughes fouled out and Castleton let it slip away, losing the game 63-60.

Although they left the court with a loss, the Spartans are preparing for the conference playoffs.

“We have to bring more consistent energy to every game because some games the energy is there and others it is not,” Cooney said.

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