Senior Brian Hamor returns for the Skyhawks after earning All-Northeast-10 honors as a junior. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)
BY Jim Fenton
Brockton Enterprise Staff Writer
The Skyhawks, who return three starters from a team that reached the semifinal round of the NCAA Div. 2 tournament last March, host Chestnut Hill College Philadelphia at Merkert Gym at 6 p.m.
Stonehill is ranked No. 12 by the Div. 2 Bulletin and No. 22 by the National Association of Basketball Association. The Skyhawks are picked to finish third in the Northeast-10 Conference behind Franklin Pierce and UMass-Lowell.
After winning the NE-10 tournament for the first time since 1989 and earning the East Region title, Stonehill defeated West Liberty, 91-90, in the national quarterfinal before losing to eventual national champion Western Washington, 71-66, to finish 25-9.
Stonehill graduated two of its top three scorers in Andre Tongo (12.8) and Patrick Lee (10.9, 8.5 rebounds), but starters Brian Hamor (14.3 points, 3.5 assists), Sam Markle and Jack Cole return along with three key reserves.
"The advantage is that we have the three returning starters and four seniors, so that really helps," said Coach David McLaughlin. "We'll be combining that with some youth. It's an interesting combination of the two."
Senior Sam Markle is also a three year starter for the Skyhawks. (PHOTO BY Bert Lane)
Hamor won the most outstanding player away in the East Regional last season and was on the all-conference second team. He needs 58 points to reach 1,000.
Markle has more than 300 assists in his career while Cole started 33 games as a freshman.
The other starters figure to be senior Adam Fazzini, who averaged nine points and made 46 percent of his 3-pointers as a reserve, and Raheem May-Thompson, who scored nearly seven points and grabbed four rebounds. Junior Mitch Amelio will also be in the rotation
"Right now, we're trying to figure ourselves out and get the rotations down," said McLaughlin. "We're working on chemistry."
The void left by Tongo and Lee, now a Stonehill assistant, will have to be filled not only on the court but from a leadership angle as well.
"You really can't measure what they and Sean Lowry did in four years," said McLaughlin. "Those two both produced really well. They were great leaders, great defenders. They were big-game players."
Stonehill does have six of eight players from last year's rotation back, and the ride the Skyhawks took to the national semifinal round can only be a benefit.
"I think that experience certainly helps," said McLaughlin, whose team opens the conference schedule by hosting Saint Anselm on Wednesday. "To go through the postseason like that and to know what to expect in the Northeast-10 where it is so competitive, it helps to be ready for that.
"The conference is as tough as ever. It's kind of like the Big East of Div. 2. It's not a shocker if a top team loses to anyone. There is no such thing as a bad team."