By Alyssa Kerry and Samson Tamijani
By Samson Tamijani
In the 2015-16 school year the students of William Penn were treated by witnessing their Men’s Basketball team achieve a memorable year. Winning an incredible 29 games in their inaugural year of participation in the Heart of America Athletic Conference they earned a share of the crown. On top of that, eleven seniors lead the program all the way to the Elite Eight of the NAIA Men’s Basketball tournament with the team’s high-powered offensive in an exhilarating game.
But this year with virtually a brand-new lineup, head coach John Henry and his staff are optimistic to only go up from where last year’s squad had left off. The newcomers to the Statesmen team came into the season hoping to prove that last year’s tremendous success was not a fluke. After a largely senior lead program last year and the loss of several integral players (some of whom are now playing professionally), is offset by a strong line of returners as well as some talented newcomers.
By Alyssa Kerry
Before the season had even began the Statesmen received the highest ranking since being voted number two in the 2012/2013 postseason poll. The preseason rating as of October 25th was voted the squad at number three, receiving two first place votes.
The Statesmen having large shoes to fill after last season had to look to find an amazing class to take over this year and made another championship run.
Returner senior, Kevin Smith, said “this year’s team is a great group of guy’s fun to be around and working as a team we made each other better everyday on and off the court.”
The squad looking to not only be individuals, but essentially become more of a team. This was the basis that the Statesmen hoped to achieve when the season first started out.
With the combination of a few returners and the new squad the Statesmen started off their season off well, winning the first season opener in the last four years. The squad came into the season with what appeared to be a very strong offense. Though they didn’t start out as well as they would have wanted, the squad was still able to come out on top.
Many of the players on the new squad in the first few games were able to get into the double digits, including both returners and newcomers. Several games into the season, it already appears that the Statesmen are not taking any days off, averaging victory margins of over 35 points in non-conference play. With a majority of their first games were no match this new Penn offense as they continued to keep control of the ball to sail to four wins in a row.
The Statesmen went on to lose their first game against Baker while on the road on November 19th by only 3 points. They were outshot by the Wildcats, after struggling during the first half of the game. Coming back after halftime, the statesmen and the wildcats were going back and forth as the clock ticked down. The Statesmen were unable to put the Wildcats away before the final seconds ticked away.
In the final away game before Christmas break, the Statesmen travelled to Culver-Stockton only to continue their winning streak to seven games in a row. Having a slightly rough first half the squad came back hot after halftime to extend their lead.
Senior, Torren Jones, leads the Statesmen in points per game with a 20.5 average, followed by returner senior, Jarvis Haywood, with
20.4 and newcomers Junior, Corbin Medley and senior, Lionel Ellison, both with 12.4 average points per game.
More recently William Penn was ranked 4th in the national rankings as of December 6th, 2016 receiving one first place vote. Currently the team holds a 11-1 record, 7-1 in the Heart of America Conference.
During the Christmas holiday’s the team will take a short break between games returning back to their first competition on January 4th 2017. The Statesmen will return with their first home game of the spring semester on January 7th when they go up against Graceland, followed by an away game at Clarke and a game back in the Penn Gymnasium January 12th against Benedictine to round up for the first week back.
Check out media clubs 2016/2017 WP Basketball Hype Video
Torren Jones, Senior
Jeremy Postell, Senior
Corbin Medley, Junior
Lionel Ellison, Senior
Kevin Smith, Senior
Charles Knowles, Senior
Nick Jeffries, Junior
Brandon Trotter, Junior
Jarvis Haywood, Senior
Kenneth Schell, Sophomore
T.J. Cunningham, Junior
Kordario Fleming, Senior
Evan Drake, Junior
Dashawn Benson, Junior
Isaac Sanders, Freshman
Rufus Williams, Senior