Capping off his senior season in a big way, 2012 Manchester graduate Travis Combs had a big weekend in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament, scoring 21 and 26 points in consecutive games on his way to being named Tourney MVP and leading the Mount St. Joseph Lions to their first Division III NCAA Tournament berth in school history.
“The HCAC Tournament was an amazing experience,” said Combs. “This year with it being my senior year it was even more special. That atmosphere for both games was intense. As for being named MVP, it’s a very special recognition and I’m very grateful. I have to thank my teammates and coaches for putting me in positions to be successful and make the plays that I made.”
“It’s every player’s dream to win a championship and clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but to be named MVP along with that makes it much sweeter.”
The HCAC tourney was played at Defiance College on Feb. 27 and 28 and the Lions faced off with Transylvania in the semi-finals on Saturday, In that game, Combs scored 21 points and hauled down 7 rebounds as the Lions held on for a 71-65 win that sent them to Sunday’s title game. In that contest, Combs poured in 26 and again had 7 boards as Mount St. Joseph rallied from 12 down with three minutes to play, going to overtime where they knocked off the Rose-Hulman “Fightin’ Engineers” 93-88 to capture the HCAC championship.
“Battling against a tough Transy team in the semi-finals and then facing a great Rose-Hulman team in the championship was not an easy road but we pulled it out by making winning plays,” added Combs. “Managing to win the HCAC, the conference tournament, and claim a spot for the first time ever in the NCAA Tournament all in the same season has been an amazing way to close out my collegiate career. The feeling is surreal right now and it hasn’t sunk in completely what we accomplished last weekend. The journey this season has been one that I will never forget, playing alongside teammates that I wouldn’t trade for the world and playing for a coaching staff that demands the best every day has truly made my senior year the best.”
“Although we’ve accomplished our goal that we have had from day one of winning the conference and the tournament, we realize that we’re not finished yet. We have the NCAA first round game on Friday night and that is what we are focused on.”
Mount St. Joseph (18-9) will face Hope College (23-3) on Friday, March 4 at 5:30 p.m. in their NCAA tourney opener. The game will be played at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill.