Valentine’s Day marked a time for red to triumph, especially for the Redhawks at Benedictine University at Mesa.
That’s when the men’s basketball team finished off its first season with a rousing win, 101-78, over the La Sierra Golden Eagles. The points came early and often for the Redhawks and it came from nearly everyone.
By halftime, the lead was up to 25 and it ballooned in the second half to 35 points at one point. Seven players finished in double figures on the afternoon, led by Kyle Tomlinson, a Mesa native who finished off his playing career in style, scoring 16 points.
Anthony Bryant scored 15, Richie Thornton V — who helped lead Bishop Gorman High School in Nevada to three state titles — scored 14, Troy Conley and Jorge Cano each had 11, senior Bobby Ward and Nate Anaya — a former team captain for St. Mary’s High School — chipped in with 10 and Reggie Kindle nearly made it eight players in double figures scoring nine points and leading the team in rebounds with Bryant, tallying eight.
For the seniors Tomlinson, Kindle and Ward, it would be an afternoon they won’t soon forget as all three were recognized before the game for their efforts in helping build the Redhawks program and each had their moments in the sun in-game as well.
“It was very emotional, knowing it was going to be your last college game,” Kindle said. “But it was great being a part of this first year of the program because you get to say you started something.”
For the rest of the team, players hope they can carry the torch into next season. The Redhawks finished year one of the men’s basketball program at 14-15, which included a 9-1 record against California Pacific Conference teams, a mark that will surely be on the minds of their opponents when BenU at Mesa plays a full conference schedule and becomes postseason eligible next season.
The Redhawks also saved their best ball for down the stretch, winning their last six regular season games of the year, plus playing NCAA Division I Grand Canyon University toe-to-toe for the better part of 30 minutes in an exhibition game late in the season. With all of these achievements in their first year of play and the returners coming back next season, the arrow seems to be pointed up for the men’s basketball team heading into the 2016-17 season.
“We set a great foundation our first year,” Conley said. “It started from the coaches and our senior leadership. They provided a good foundation for us moving ahead into next year.
“I think we’ll have a target on our backs next year because we won’t surprise anybody but I think we are prepared for that.”