Scots start fast again, need to finish strong

More news about: Maryville (Tenn.)
Sophomore Colt Nokes has emerged as one of several Scots who can fill up the stat sheet on any given night. 
Maryville Athletics photo 

Everything is rolling along smoothly for Maryville, which is riding the high of a six-game win streak and owns a 10-1 record.

But the Scots have been here before. A year ago, in fact, when they won 12 of their first 15 games only to struggle down the stretch and finish 14-11.

So forgive Calvin Songster if he admits there is a bit of pressure on the shoulders of the Scots, who have no intentions of letting history repeat itself.

"We don't want to repeat last year," said Songster, a sophomore guard who happens to be the team's leading scorer, averaging 14.6 points per game. "There is pressure on us to have success, and so far, we've done a good job. We have to keep practicing hard and playing hard to stay on the right track."

Songster has no doubt been a difference maker for the Scots, who appear to be back on the rise after a couple of so-so seasons.

A year ago, Songster wasn't even on the floor. He had averaged 8.3 points per game the previous year but took a break from basketball last year to focus on academics.

"It was tough not playing," Songster said. "My family and coaches wanted me to work on getting my grades on track, so I took a year off. It was a good decision and it feels good to be playing again."

Songster said it took time for him to get back into a groove and the challenge of getting his feet under him again took a little time.

"It was tougher than I thought it would be, and for the first few games, I didn't feel like I was myself out there," Songster said. "It felt different but I am playing well and I feel confident in my game."

A threat from beyond the arc, Songster has knocked down 30 3-pointers and is shooting 50 percent from the field and from long range.

"I am surprised by my shooting percentage," Songster said. "I didn't expect to be shooting 50 percent. I'm getting good looks and have been able to knock down shots. The big thing for me this year is I feel confident with the ball in my hands. In the past, I would have looked to pass the ball back right away."

As effective as Songster is on the perimeter, sophomore forward Colt Nokes is just as effective in the paint, ranking second on the team in scoring (10.7) and first on the team in rebounding (7.6).

"Most of the season I've played pretty well," Nokes said. "Last year I played behind a senior but was able to get minutes and that experience has carried over to this year."

The thing about the Scots is the fate of their success isn't entirely on the shoulders of Songster and Nokes. This is a balanced basketball team, one where any player is capable of rising to the occasion on any given night.

In last Tuesday's 81-67 win over Berry, five players scored in double figures.

Songster scored 14 to lead the way. Chris Watson finished with 12 points and Tyler Spicer scored 11 to go along with eight rebounds. Nokes and Dante Hoppa tallied 10 points apiece.

"Everyone knows their role and anyone on this team is capable of stepping up on a given night," Nokes said. "We're a very balanced basketball team and if we keep working as hard as we have been, we're going to be in great shape in the conference."

Winning a USA South Athletic Conference crown is what the Scots are hoping to achieve, but based on how things played out last year, they know winning doesn't always come easily.

"Our conference is really good, but we feel good about the way we are playing," Nokes said. "We just have to take it one game at a time and keep playing our game."

Maryville has a history of success, racking up 17 20-win seasons and just four losing seasons under head coach Randy Lambert, a former Maryville star who is in his 37th season at the helm of the program.

A lot is expected of the players because of that history and Songster is determined to help the Scots live up to those expectations.

"Our coach wants us to be great and get back to where this program has been before," Songster said. "We believe we can be that kind of team. If we work hard, the winning will take care of itself, and we'll be in a good position to contend for a conference championship."

Casey leading the Generals

Taylor Casey is just a freshman but she is playing like anything but one, especially after what she did in Washington and Lee's 93-75 win over Roanoke Saturday.

Casey poured in a career-high 23 points and also dished out four assists as the Generals stretched their win streak to five games. They are now 7-5 overall and 3-1 in the ODAC.

As good as Casey is – and she certainly is, averaging 12.1 points per game – the Generals are balanced and have leaned on others to pave the way as well.

There is Emily Perszyk, the leading scorer on the team, who scored 17 points in the win and also tallied three steals.

Ailyn Kelly and Andrea Ferrero also rose to the occasion against Roanoke, with both players recording double-doubles for the first time in their careers. Kelly scored 16 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and Ferrero finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Averaging 69.5 points per game, the Generals have put up 70 or more points in four of their last five games.

Williams shines for Tigers

Jorden Williams scored a career-high 35 points in Sewanee's 84-70 win over Oglethorpe Sunday.

In a zone all day, the senior shot 13-of-19 from the field, hitting seven shots from beyond the arc, as he helped the Tigers win their third consecutive game.

Williams has played a pivotal role in the success of the Tigers, who are 9-4 overall and 2-1 in the conference.

Scoring in double figures 10 times this season, Williams is averaging 16.6 points per outing. Sunday's game marked the sixth time he has scored 20 or more in a game and the seventh time this year he has made at least four 3-pointers.

Still Perfect

Trinity is still unbeaten and head coach Cameron Hill has 100 wins in his career after the Tigers topped Centenary 81-58 Saturday in SCAC action.

Behind four players scoring in double figures, Trinity nailed down its 13th win of the year and improved to 2-0 in the conference.

Monica Holguin paved the way, scoring 15 points while Rachel Chavez, who came in averaging only 3.5 points per outing, scored a career-best 12 points off the bench, serving as an example to the depth the Tigers have on their team.

Seven times this season Holguin has led the Tigers in scoring. She averages 14.5 points per game. Six other players on the team average at least four points per outing.

Gee sets steals record

Tyler Gee came through with 12 steals in Rhodes' 142-100 win over Birmingham-Southern Friday. The 12 steals are a school and conference record and the sixth most all-time in NCAA Division III history.

Gee has racked up 39 steals overall this year, ranking him first in the SAA in that category.

Oldshue leading way for Eagles

Ashley Oldshue nearly had a double-double in Emory's 84-75 loss to Rochester Saturday.

Despite the loss, it doesn't deter from the fact that Oldshue is having quite a season for the Eagles, who sit at 9-3 on the season.

She is averaging 16.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, pacing Emory in both statistical categories.

The sophomore center out of Illinois continues to make strides off the experience she gained as a freshman when she averaged 3.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

Scoring in bunches

For the second time this season, McMurry had six players score in double figures as the War Hawks knocked off Ozarks 109-104 Saturday, the most points the War Hawks have scored since 2012 when they put up 109 against Concordia.

Nate Estrada paved the way, lighting up the scoreboard for 23 points. Nailing four 3-pointers to highlight his effort, he helped the War Hawks get to the .500 mark for the first time this year. McMurry is 7-7 overall and 3-3 in the ASC.

LaRandall Scroggins and Darius Watts also reached the 20-point mark, scorign 20 points apiece for a McMurry team that has won two of its last three games.

Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Florida. He has 15 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending 10 at The Courier in Findlay, Ohio. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for and wrote the book Perfect Run as No. 1 about the 2009 Division II men's basketball champions University of Findlay. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois.