by Andrew Bell

Timken Gymnasium filled up for the final home weekend matchup of the 2023-24 men’s basketball season. The Scots continued their quest for NCAC superiority after posting an impressive six-game win streak. Their opponent, the Kenyon Owls, lost seven of their last ten games and ranked near the bottom of the Conference. The Scots are eyeing the regular season title, but they could not look too far ahead without winning this NCAC contest.

         Nick Everett ’24 continued his tipping duties and won the first possession of the game. The Owls scored first with an open three. Everett scored the opening points for Wooster with a physical put-in. Ashton Price ’25, leading scorer for the day, was the next Scot to put his name on the score sheet. Price has been averaging 15.3 points per game over the season and has led much of the point guard responsibilities for the Black and Gold. Jaiden Cox-Holloway ’26 also scored on a quick lay-in. An intercepted pass by Jamir Billings ’25 set up another Cox-Holloway score. Everett capitalized on another lay-in on the ensuing play. The 10-0 Wooster run was halted by the first media timeout of the game. 

         Everett extended the run to 12 by sinking two shots from the charity stripe. A Cox-Holloway block, followed by a set of free throws and a layup by EJ Kapihe ’26, continued the Black and Gold’s impressive run. The Owls ended the 16-0 run with consecutive scores.

         Isaac Roeder ’26 put the Scots’ offense back on track with another bucket. Wooster continued to pour it on with a set of free throws and a layup by Everett, another three by Roeder and a jumper from JJ Cline ’24. Both Everett and Billings registered a block in the defensive zone. Billings continued to show off his defensive prowess by snatching the ball away from a Kenyon guard. Cline was starting to heat up around the eight-minute mark as he scored a physical bucket on the block. Kapihe threw a crafty pass while falling out of bounds to Price, who shot the open three. Swish. The Woo Crew cheered as the Fighting Scots clearly overwhelmed the Owls on both sides of the floor and maintained a dominant lead.

         Price continued to enter his name into the scoring sheet with a short two-point jumper. After a set of missed shots by both teams, Kenyon broke the stalemate with a quick layup. Price was not deterred and shot a nifty reverse layup after burning his defender. Everett scored next with another lay-in. 

         The final minutes of the half opened with another physical score by Everett. He scored another fast break layup on the very next play, forcing a Kenyon timeout. Kapihe scored the final points of the half by making both shots from the line. Wooster led the Owls 45-22 at halftime.

         The first bucket of the second half was scored by Everett, who had an impressive total of 17 points on the day. He had a chance to break an all-time NCAA Division III shooting record but fell just short. Everett was pulled out when he committed another foul, and his absence seemed to cue a run by the Owls. Head Coach Doug Cline called a 30-second timeout with the Scots up 47-28.

         Wooster regained momentum on a defensive rejection by Cline followed by a Cox-Holloway deep three. Cox-Holloway scored again with a three from the corner. Wooster was up 53-28 against Kenyon at the under-16 media timeout. The Scots quickly piled two three pointers onto the score. Kenyon did not concede and knocked down three consecutive shots beyond the arc. Cline broke the Wooster scoring drought after a quick jumper from the block. A foul on Price stopped play for another media timeout. Price’s foul shots both fell through the net as he became the game’s leading scoring with 18 points. A sweet pass by Vinni Veikalas ’26 set up Isaiah Johnson’s ’26 score. A three by Cline and a block on the other end by Johnson sent the Scots into the huddle for the next stoppage of play. Wooster was in the driver’s seat with a 68-45 advantage.

A steal by Bryce Sewell ’26 opened the next period of play for the Scots. Roeder scored the first points in the under-8 time slot after gathering his own rebound and taking the ball in for a layup. Viekalas scored for a second time after backing down his defender and scoring inside the key.        

Roeder was at the rack again for another lay-in to open the Scots efforts in the final four minutes. A physical bucket by Veikalas marked his last score of the game. Coach Cline cleared his bench and let everyone who was dressed play in the final two minutes. A steal by Zach Oliver ’27 sent a cascade of cheers through the arena. Anthony Gomes ’26 went 1-2 from the line to mark his first score of the game. His score was the final of the game as Nick Prince ’27 dribbled out the last 20 seconds for a 77-53 dominant Wooster victory.

Wooster’s blowout followed on the heels of a major win last weekend against DePauw. Coach Cline reflected “coming off the win and the celebration of Coach Moore, it was a good time to have a week off. Our guys got to rest up a bit and had four really good practices.”

The extra day of rest helped fuel a stingy Wooster defense which was led by a deliberate Billings. He commented, “I just try and do what Coach Cline and Moore preach. Be intense and attack the ball.” Billings also led the team in assists on the day. This win marked the 61st consecutive win against Kenyon College — one for the Wooster record books. Despite this impressive statistic, Coach Cline preached that “[Wooster] got lucky on a couple of those wins. [We don’t] take anyone lightly.” This mantra has fueled the Scots to remain tied with Wabash for first place in the NCAC rankings. “February and March — that’s what basketball is all about,” said an excited Cline. “We still have a chance to accomplish all of our season goals.” Billings continued his coach’s sentiment and asserted that the team “just has to take care of our business.”The Black and Gold travel to Springfield, Ohio for a major in-conference matchup against rival Wittenberg University on Saturday, Feb. 10.