Quakers eager to play in front of student body

January 15, 2013

Junior Taylor Wellman pulled down a career-high seven rebounds against Mount Union. (Wilmington file/Randy Sarvis)

Junior Taylor Wellman pulled down a career-high seven rebounds against Mount Union. (Wilmington file/Randy Sarvis)

For the first time this season, the Wilmington men’s basketball team will have a home game while school is in session. (Game Notes, Live Stats/Audio)

After playing their first five games on the road, the Fightin’ Quakers home opener came the Saturday after school went into winter break. So, finally the student body will get their first look at a team fighting to get back to .500 for the first time since December 6.

Standing in Wilmington’s way for the quest for .500 and a 5-4 OAC record are the Polar Bears of Ohio Northern. They come into the game after losing four of the last five games. Three of the four losses were at home.

“They are a good, solid OAC team,” said head coach K.C. Hunt. “They are turnover driven with physically strong and tough guards. It’s going to be a good match up.”

The Polar Bears have played better away for the ONU Sports Center this season. They are 7-2 in road and neutral site games, while going 0-6 at home.

Junior guard Brenden Rushton is sixth in the league in scoring with 15.5 points. ONU has two other players in double figures with sophomore Lucas Pennington (12.3 ppg) and junior Jared Horstman (10.3 ppg). Pennington is second in the league; making 2.47 three’s a game.

While the Polar Bears have seemingly hit a bump in the road, Wilmington is playing its best basketball of the season. The Fightin’ Quakers have won their last three game to put them on the verge of evening up their record.

During the current streak, senior Brandon Candella (West Chester, OH/Lakota West), sophomore Dwight Johnson (Dayton, OH/Jefferson) and junior Malcolm Heard II (Wilmington, OH/Wilmington) have picked up their scoring in helping WC average 83.3 points per game.

Johnson, who was named OAC Player of the Week Monday, has made the biggest improvement. Prior to this recent stretch, he was averaging just 6.2 points. During this run, the point guard is averaging 18.0 points on 54 percent shooting. He has dished out 13 assists with seven turnovers, but is coming off a 24-point, six-assist, five-rebound and zero-turnover performance against Mount Union.

Candella is coming off a career-high 24-point game, and is averaging 20.3 points and 6.0 rebounds during this three-game run. Heard is adding 14.7 points and eight rebounds in the last three games.

“As the season has gone along, roles have started to become more defined,” said Hunt. “We are getting more familiar with each other. Where they need to ball, their tendencies once they have the ball. As a group, its kind of fun to see the maturation process, especially with the addition of Jordan (Berlin).”