Top Cats over the past seven years
Listing the Best in Men's Basketball
Horne, Black, Gibson, Ward, Hamilton at the top
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The men’s basketball program at Southwestern Assemblies of God University is ranked by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) for the second straight season.
In their most recent game they stunned no. 12 Texas Wesleyan University, 75-73, on the road to improve to 11-3.
While winning has been sporadic since joining the 300-member NAIA less than 15 years ago, the school has previously enjoyed decades of success.
The 27-11 record the Lions had in the first season under Head Coach Donnie Bostwick tied the SAGU mark for victories in one year. It equaled the team’s high-water mark of 27-7 achieved in the 1980’s under Head Coach Terry Bryan.
That winning mark last winter was the club’s first in over a decade. That doesn’t mean the purple and gold have been short on standout performers.
In fact, over the past seven seasons they have had six players rank in the NAIA’s Top 10 nationally in five major categories; three leading the nation.
During the 2009-10 campaign, 6-foot-10 center Jon Black blocked more shots than anyone in the NAIA. His 101 translated into 3.0 per game for a Lions team that went 13-21.
The team’s biggest wins that season were a stunning 80-69 win over #19 Texas College, rallying from 19-points down, and a 92-87 triumph over Dallas Baptist University (18-11) behind 13 three-pointers.
Three times that season he swatted seven; against Langston University, Jarvis Christian College and Huston-Tillotson University.
His 57 rejections in 2009 were second most for the team among their leaders dating back to the 2006-07 season.
Nathaniel Duce Ward, an athletic 6'5 forward, grabbed 12.3 rebounds during his sophomore season (2010-11). The lanky leaper's desire for landing the ball surpassed a hungry fisherman in search of big game.
Southwestern had the conference's top rebounder for the second successive season. Black was atop the league with a 10.9 average. That placed him at #4 in country.
His skill at latching onto caroms was #1 in the NAIA, 3.3 of them coming on the offensive glass.
His best game was against LSU-Shreveport when he had 23 boards and 18 points in a 112-88 road loss. He reached double figures in rebounds 22 times in 28 games.
Five times he ripped down 15 or more, with 18 coming in a late-season game at Langston. Ward, who had six offensive boards, also scored 19 as SAGU escaped with an 81-79 victory.
That same season the Lions’ Ronald Horne scored more points than anyone in the NAIA nation with 728. His 23.48 ppg (points per game) average was second only to Ricky Berry (Simon Fraser Univ., Canada), who had a 23.52 norm.
Horne’s best effort was a 40-point outburst against Bacone College in a 100-92 home victory. The junior connected on 12-of-18 shots, including five trifectas. The pure shooter also knocked down 11-of-13 free throws.
He poured in 39 three nights later versus Paul Quinn College in an 88-85 setback.
Horne had seven outings of 30+ points, all but one in which he made 47% or better from the field.
He added 13 other games of 20+ points by making over 40% of his field goal attempts in eight of them.
The 6-foot-2 Waco native wrapped up his career as the school’s #2 all-time scorer behind Doug Freer #1 in free throws.
Jared Gibson, also a junior on the Lions that year, was known for his longer-range artillery as well as a high-arcing delivery that enabled him to drain 103 triples.
That figure was third best in the NAIA. Shawn Savage (Campbellsville, Ky) made 108.
He changed games when he would rip the nets from 30 to 35 feet and sometimes beyond. Gibson was always steady even when he was not spectacular.
Three times in his first 10 games he was held under two treys; ‘threeless’ just once in the opener at St. Thomas (0-for-4).
After that he had two in six games, three in seven games, four bombs during eight games, five triples six times (including 4 of the final 5 gms) and a season-best six at the University of the Southwest.
SAGU was 17th in scoring at 80.4 ppg by stroking 8.4 treys per game, which ranked 9th best. Gibson led a four-pronged attack with 103 and was successful on 39% of his launches. He finished his career with 243 threes, second only to Freer’s 249.
Horne was an equal threat with 93, while Peter Dutton and Matt Allbritton fired in 29 and 24 respectively.
Allbritton played in just 11 games and was true on a team-best 41% of his attempts. In the eight games he sank a triple; he never made less than 40%.
That year’s team led the Red River Athletic Conference in free throw accuracy (.727).
Defensive yield (86.6) and eight narrow setbacks masked what could have been a winning campaign. Five of those losses, all by five or less, happened in the closing five weeks.
The fifth category in the listing, assists, had a few terrific showings. Gerren Hamilton, a point guard who had plenty of flash, was known more for his dash.
His 162 assists in 2009 were the best of the Top 10 totals over the previous seven years. He averaged dishing 5.1 dimes per outing.
The Lions were 12-20 that winter, scoring 75 and surrendering 81.
Hamilton (10.3) was one of four players scoring in double-digits; Chris Valliere (13.7), Al Thompson (12.7), Jeremy Carey (11.8). The team averaged 6.9 three-balls per game (#39 in the NAIA).
G-Man was good on 42% of his shots beyond the arc, totaling 39 three-pointers.
For the list of record holders and stats, click on the appropriate tabs on the SAGU Athletics website under Men’s Basketball.
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