By Mark Carpenter
On the college hardwood Saturday afternoon, two local products continued their careers at the College of Mount St. Joseph as the Lions men’s basketball squad picked up their fourth consecutive win and improved to 16-8 on the season, defeating Rose-Hulman 69-57.
Peebles graduate Andy Countryman and Manchester graduate Travis Combs are part of the Lions squad that has made a remarkable turn around in fortunes in the 2013-14 season, going from a sub .500 team to their present 16-8 record, including a sparkling 10-1 on their home floor.
On Saturday, the Lions hosted Rose-Hulman with Countryman as usual in the starting lineup and Combs one of the first players off the bench. Countryman, who is completing his junior year at the Mount, contributed 5 points to the Mount victory while sophomore Combs added 4.
“It’s been going pretty good,” said Countryman after Saturday’s game. “I definitely like the things that Coach (Toby) Carrigan is doing. He’s turned the program around but it’s been nice to go from the losing seasons my first two years here to this year’s winning season.”
“We will have almost everyone back next year and our goal will be to finish first. Personally, I want to stay solid on defense and get my buckets when they come.” In the 2013-14 season, Countryman is averaging 8.9 points per game, appearing in all 24 of the teams’ contests.
For Combs, it is a look ahead to two more seasons wearing the blue and gold of the Mount, colors he is quite familiar with from his high school days as a Greyhound.
“It’s a building process still for me and the team,” said the sophomore guard. “We started out last year at the bottom and made our way to the tournament and we are just building on that.”
“From my first year to my second year, it’s been a big improvement. My shot is a little rough right now but my defense is still consistent.My defense has been the strongest part of my game this year but for next year, I want to look to be more a part of the scoring part of our offense.”
Combs is averaging 4.2 points per game in his sophomore season, also appearing in all 24 games.
Another Manchester graduate was honored on Saturday as part of the school’s Senior Day. Ashley Palmer will be graduating from the Mount this spring, graduating in three years, and she has been a part of the MSJ cheerleading squad. On Saturday, she was joined by her parents and grandmother on the court to be recognized as a senior.