The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Men’s and women’s basketball teams lose in Patriot League playoffs

Freshman+guard+Mark+Butler+dribbles+down+the+court+against+Lehigh.+%28Photo+by+Rick+Smith+for+GoLeopards%29
Freshman guard Mark Butler dribbles down the court against Lehigh. (Photo by Rick Smith for GoLeopards)

Both the men’s (11-21 overall, 10-8 Patriot League) and women’s basketball teams (10-20 overall, 5-13 Patriot League) saw their seasons come to an end this past weekend, as the men fell to rival Lehigh University (13-17 overall, 9-9 Patriot League) at home while the women could not get the job done on the road against the Naval Academy (14-16 overall, 9-9 Patriot League).

Following the men’s red-hot start to the Patriot League season during which they won their first seven games and nine out of their first 11, the Leopards began to slow down as their shots stopped falling at such a high rate and they continued to be out-rebounded.

This season summary was exactly how the Patriot League tournament against sixth-seeded Lehigh went as the three-seed Maroon and White started strong with an 11-5 lead. The Mountain Hawks then stormed back with a strong run of their own, putting them up eight with seven minutes to go in the first half.
From there it was all Lehigh, as the Leopards could not continue their sharpshooting performance. Lehigh nabbed 11 more rebounds and shot an astounding 65 percent from three.

Despite the early end to their playoff run, the team’s first-year players are proud of the season’s work and are looking toward the future.

“This season was a roller coaster,” freshman guard Josh Wyche said. “We had our ups, our downs, but we found a way to stick together and play together regardless of the outcome.”

“I think my rookie season overall was a success,” freshman guard Mark Butler said. “For me personally, playing college basketball has always been a dream of mine so just being able to go out and compete every game at a high level I would consider that a success. For our team it was also a success through all the highs and lows we stuck together and fought through all the adversity.”

Butler racked up 236 points across the season for an average of 7.4 points per game. His season-high of 20 came in the Feb. 10 matchup against Lehigh.

A youthful team, the Leopards will be losing three seniors: forward Kyle Jenkins, guard Jon Brantley and guard Eric Sondberg.

“The one thing I learned from the seniors was don’t take it for granted,” Butler said. “Eric, Kyle and Jon were all great role models and they all just reminded me that it goes by fast and just try to enjoy every second of it.”

The women’s basketball team lines up before its last home game on March 2 against Bucknell. (Photo by Rick Smith for GoLeopards)

The women’s team’s season-long struggle with consistency showed during the Navy game. The 10th-seeded Leopards kept it close through a quarter until their opponent went on a 20-6 run in the second quarter and went into the locker room in control.

“When we played our best, we played together, we were making the one more pass, we were just having fun and getting excited for each other, but I think that sometimes we just lacked unity this year,” junior guard Abby Antognoli said.

In the third quarter, it was more of the same as the Leopards still could not get any offense going. While they mounted a decent comeback in the fourth, outscoring Navy 20-15, they could not come back from the 27-point hole they were in and ultimately fell by a score of 67-45.

“I think that we wanted to make sure that we played hard the whole game,” junior guard Halee Smith said. “I know we came out on the bottom, but we just wanted to play tough basketball.”

The Leopards now face a tougher position going into next year as they also lose three seniors, each of whom got consistent minutes including second-team All-Patriot League selection Makayla Andrews.

“I am just really proud of my team,” Antognoli said. “Despite the fact that we finished in tenth place, we worked really hard every day. We’re going to come back next year with something to prove.”

Correction 3/12/24: A previous version of this article had an incorrect photo caption. The women’s basketball photo is from the team’s March 2 matchup against Bucknell.

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About the Contributors
Charlie Berman
Charlie Berman, Sports Editor
VAP
Eric Ponieman
Eric Ponieman, Assistant Sports Editor
Roll Pards!
Grace Sanborn
Grace Sanborn, Assistant Sports Editor
Thinks hitting a ball with a stick outside for four hours is fun.

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