Men’s basketball moves up in ODAC

Senior forward Carson Long shoots a three-pointer against Roanoke College on Jan. 9, 2018. Long had 11 points in the loss. //Photo by Andrew Walker/The Guilfordian

The Guilford College men’s basketball team began their season 3-4, but after a rocky start the team has rallied back to an 11-5 mark. Five of those wins came in the month of December and many over the winter break.

“Over (break) there is no school, which allows for a lot of time for more practice. Guys are eating together, spend a lot more time around each other and it allows the team to become more of a tight knit group,” Associate Head Coach Ronnie Thomas said.

Following their stellar December, the Quakers opened 2019 with two home wins, the second of which came against nationally ranked Randolph-Macon College.

“(The game) counts as one win, as great as it was. We have a lot of great opponents. We will build off of that and understand that we are just as good as the number 15 team in the country,” Thomas said.

After the victory the team has begun to receive votes for top 25 in the nation.

The one-point victory came as the second over a ranked opponent, the first of which came on Dec. 5 against Lynchburg College at the beginning of their seven-game win streak. Although conference foe Roanoke College snapped that streak on Jan. 5, the Quakers got back to winning only days later against Randolph College.

One very apparent difference maker during the team’s recent success has been the reemergence of redshirt sophomore guard Jaylen Gore. Gore, a captain on the team, started the majority of games his first year helping the team win an Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship. Unfortunately, his 2017-18 season was cut short by a hip injury.

“Last year we missed his competitiveness, leadership on the court and his willingness to get the job done,” Thomas said.

Since Dec. 5 Gore has been in double digits scoring in two-thirds of the team’s games, while also leading the team in assists per game.

After the Randolph-Macon victory, Gore was feeling good.

“I have a ton of confidence in my shots right now (coming off the last three games). “My teammates got my back and I got theirs,” Gore said.

In addition to the success of Gore, first-year forward Liam Ward has been making an impact. On Dec. 18, in his first start, the first-year tallied 14 points, eight rebounds and two steals helping the team in a 10-point victory over Berry College.

“(Ward) brought youthfulness, energy and excitement,” Thomas said. “He’s just making plays. He’s really looking to bring energy to the older guys.”

Ward started in five of seven games during Guilford’s win streak. Although Ward hasn’t had any other scoring performances quite like his first start, the six foot, six inch forward has made his presence felt in the rebounding game, defensively and has managed to dish out a number of assists.

Currently, the Quakers are led offensively by senior captain Marcus Curry who is averaging 15.3 points per game. In assists, Jaylen Gore is top of the team with 4.6 assists per game. Senior Kyler Gregory is third on the team in points per game (11.7), and sits atop the team with 7.9 rebounds per game. The Quakers are currently at 5-2 in the ODAC and are in a four way tie for third in the league.

The remainder of the team’s schedule is all ODAC opponents, the conclusion of which will be on Senior Day Feb. 16 vs. Washington and Lee University.