The Saints men’s basketball winning streak finally came to an end, and with that, their 2016-17 season, as well.
After Mt. Hood’s exciting 74-71 victory on March 9 over Shoreline, they fell to the Lower Columbia Red Devils, 85-78, on March 10, and were eliminated from the NWAC championship tournament opening rounds, played in Everett, Washington.
After their win over Shoreline (No. 1 seed from the NWAC North), it almost felt the Saints (No. 4 seed from the South) were destined to do something special. They had taken six straight games, and had all the momentum on their side.
Against the Red Devils, Mt. Hood came out strong, even leading the game at halftime. But the second half was a much different story as the game slipped out of the Saints’ hands, with Lower Columbia outscoring them, 49-40, after the half.
Despite the disappointing loss, Saints followers shouldn’t forget how much this team accomplished this year.
For one, they made the playoffs, no small feat, and they did so by winning five straight games to just sneak in with the fourth and final South division spot. This was a team that came in with huge goals, but heading into the last few weeks appeared as if it wouldn’t even reach the NWACs.
The Saints didn’t give up, and instead, they came together and found a way to make it.
Forward Luke Anderson that’s what made this season so special. “The best moment (was) proving people wrong and making it to the tournament when people would have never expected it,” he said.
Once in, the Saints won a playoff game and had they not a bad second half, might have won a second. Now, that’s what makes summarizing this team’s season so hard – just how talented it was. No one can convince me this team didn’t have the talent to win it all, because they did.
Shooting guard Elijah Fuller agrees. “It was a great season, but sad we came up short because we knew we could win the ’ship,” Fuller said.
The team was filled with talent. Fuller averaged 12 points per game and shot 42 percent from behind the three-point arc, while Anderson scored 13 and grabbed about eight rebounds per game. Forward Cody Thompson led the team in scoring with 17 points per game, and averaged more than five rebounds. Point guard John Tibbs was the Saints’ assist man, averaging a team-high 4.29 on the season.
The point is, this team was solid, all-around, and exciting to watch. To see the season come to an end in a game they could have won was rough. Anderson put it perfectly when he said, “There’s a lot of highs and lows with sports and we had to experience both of these in such a short time. One minute you’re on top of the world; the next your entire season is over, so it’s tough.
“I think the season as a whole was a success,” he added. “It doesn’t feel that way right now, though, because we know we should be back in Everett (this) weekend fighting (in the Final Four round) for a championship.”
The Saints have more than just wins and losses to take away from this season, however.
“Biggest takeaway, was the bond as brothers leaving the court,” Fuller said of his teammates. “They will be my brothers for the rest of my life.”