Nationally-ranked Denison (6-0, 12-1) has built a two-game lead at the top of the North Coast men’s basketball standings, while the race below the Big Red is highly competitive with six teams sitting at .500 or above in league play. There is a full slate of conference games this week, led by Hiram (3-2, 6-6) hosting Ohio Wesleyan (4-2, 7-6) on Wednesday night and Wooster (4-2, 7-6) traveling to Wittenberg (3-3, 9-4) on Saturday evening.
ALLEGHENY went 1-2 on the opening week of 2017, with a 68-62 win at Wabash sandwiched between losses against DePauw, 101-91, and Denison, 104-63. In the win over the Little Giants, freshman Jamison Nee (Natrona Hts., PA/Highlands) led the way for the Gators with 21 points after shooting 5-of-6 from downtown.
DENISON, ranked 21st in the D3hoops.com Top-25, came away with four victories in a six-day span last week, including a pair of league wins over Ohio Wesleyan, 83-80, and Allegheny, 104-63. In the four games combined, senior post Jett Speelman (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic) scored 78 points after shooting 47 percent (22-of-47) from the field and 60 percent (9-of-15) from three-point range, led by a 25-point effort in DU’s three-point win over OWU. Classmate David Meurer (Granville, OH/Newark Catholic) was the hero for the Big Red against OWU as he drained a three-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining to lift DU to the three-point win over the Bishops.
DEPAUW extended its winning streak to five-straight last week with home wins over Allegheny, 100-91, and Kenyon, 73-64. Senior guard Luke Lattner (Hinsdale, IL/Fenwick) opened the week with 36-points, seven assists and six rebounds in the win over the Gators, before adding 20 more points against the Lords. In the two games combined, he shot 50 percent (16-of-32) from the field and connected on 20-of-23 attempts from the charity stripe.
HIRAM senior Jeremiah Thomas (Cleveland, OH/John Hay) sank a layup as time expired to give the Terriers a 60-58 home win over Wittenberg. Junior guard Ryan Greenwood (Fairport Harbor, OH/Harding), who assisted on Thomas’ game-winner, led all scorers in the game with 12 points, while junior center Kelvin Jones (Sheffield Lake, OH/Brookside) continued his dominance on the glass with 13 rebounds.
KENYON suffered a pair of losses in Texas against Southwestern, 84-70, and Trinity, 74-71, before returning to NCAC play with a 73-64 loss at DePauw. During the three-game stretch, junior Bennett Grigull (London, England/Kimball Union Acad.) scored 44 points on 8-of-16 shooting from beyond the arc, led by a career-high 16-point outing against Trinity.
OBERLIN senior Jack Poyle (Avon, OH/Avon) became the 24th player in school history to surpass 1,000 career points after scoring 12 points in the Yeomen’s narrow 65-62 home loss against Wittenberg. Poyle then added 16 more points in a 58-48 loss against Wabash on Saturday.
OHIO WESLEYAN dropped back-to-back league games last week against No. 21 Denison, 83-80, and Wooster, 99-76. Junior guard Seth Clark (Lewis Center, OH/Olentangy) led the Bishops against DU with 25 points, while freshman Jeret Gerber (Worthington, OH/Thomas Worthington) paced OWU against the Scots with 13 points in just 12 minutes of game action.
WABASH split a pair of league games to open the new year, dropping a 68-62 decision against Allegheny on Wednesday, before earning a 58-48 win at Oberlin on Saturday. Freshman Harrison Hallstrom (Naperville, IL/Central) sparked the victory over the Yeomen by scoring all 14 of his points in the second half, while sophomore post Logan White (Avon, IN/Avon) notched his sixth double-double of the season in the victory with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
WITTENBERG went 1-1 in conference action last week, posting a 65-62 win over Oberlin on Wednesday, before dropping a heartbreaking 60-58 decision at the buzzer against Hiram on Saturday. Senior guard Cody Phillippi (Xenia, OH/Xenia) led the Tigers in the win over the Yeomen with 18 points after shooting 5-of-12 from the field, 2-of-4 from beyond the arc and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
WOOSTER started 2017 off strong with a convincing 99-76 win over Ohio Wesleyan. The Scots shot a blistering 62 percent (38-of-61) from the field in the win and also held a commanding 37-24 rebounding advantage. Senior Dan Fanelly (Uniontown, OH/Green) stuffed the stat sheet against OWU with 22 points, six rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals. Fanelly, who moved into 15th on the program’s all-time scoring list, has topped the 20-point mark on six different occasions this year and is averaging 24.3 points over the Scots’ last four games.