By Evan Mantel (originally published in PHC Herald)
Patrick Henry College
Men's Sentinels team captain Jensen Near goes for a layup
The men are trying to improve on a first half of the season that saw them go 4-3 (1-1 Shenandoah Chesapeake Conference). In their first three games of the semester, the Sentinels went 1-2, but 1-1 in SCC play. They lost Thursday night against Div. III Maryland Bible College 83-57.
The previous week, they beat conference rival Mid-Atlantic Christian University by a score of 75-52, but lost the following Tuesday at SCC leading Washington Bible College 75-65. As of January 22, the Sentinels were 5-5 (2-2 SCC) with two more conference games remaining.
These results offer Sentinels supporters a mix of hopefulness and trepidation as the conference tournament -- being held at PHC this year -- approaches. Hopefulness is based on their performance in their rout of Mid Atlantic Christian University -- a team that they were supposed to beat -- but trepidation because they couldn’t beat the other top team in the league.
But head coach Bruce Campbell is keeping his team positive and focused on winning the conference tournament. The Sentinels are looking to make the necessary improvements on defense to finish the season with a tournament championship.
One of the pleasant surprises for the Men's Sentinels this year has been the emergence of forward Adam Fisher. Campbell has been quite pleased with the balanced production of points and rebounds from his junior forward. Unfortunately, Fisher will be out for 3-4 weeks with a broken wrist, and that type of production provided by Fisher will be hard to replace.
“We’re gonna miss him a lot,” said team captain Jensen Near. “[He’s] our best rebounder.”
Fisher is expected to be back in time for the tournament, but in the meantime, his injury will allow other players such as freshman Jason Lloyd to contribute more.
“We are deep,” said Near. “We have a great team.”
The Lady Sentinels also have experienced a setback, as team captain Rachel Reiley attempts to come back from an ankle injury. While Reiley recovers, the Lady Sentinels are looking to continue improving as they search for their first win of the season.
It has been a challenging season thus far for the Lady Sentinels. After starting the season with 11 girls on the team, the roster has dwindled to eight. But Reiley feels very pleased with the girls currently on the team. She believes the current players have handled the difficulties well.
“There is a lot better teamwork and moving the ball,” Reiley said. The Lady Sentinels will have their hands full, though, when they return to competition in February.
The men’s team has an important upcoming conference game versus Christendom on Wednesday night, the 28th. In the teams’ first meeting, Christendom won at home, and the Sentinels are hoping to avenge their first conference loss.
“It’s Christendom, so it’s always really intense playing them,” said Near. PHC does catch a break though. One of Christendom’s best players from last semester is not expected to play on Wednesday. But the Sentinels aren’t letting their guard down. “They are well coached,” said Near. “We expect to go out and perform.”
The Sentinels are expecting that the crowd will play a large role in this game. Near noted that Christendom has yet to play a game in the Barbara Hodel Center. He does not think Christendom will be ready for the atmosphere in our gym. And with this rivalry game, everyone on the Sentinels expects the fans to be loud and dressed for a white-out.
Not only will a win give PHC rivalry bragging rights over archrival Christendom, but it should also provide the Sentinels with plenty of momentum for the season’s home stretch. With a good win on Wednesday, they should have plenty of confidence going into the conference tournament.