The Hawks have been eliminated from postseason play, but went out with their heads held high after a 55-38 victory over Frank Phillips College on Thursday at the Dorothy Garrett Coliseum.
Tori Tucker scored a game-high 21 points, while Destinee Thrash added eight and Teiona Tarrant chipped in seven for the Hawks.
It was a bittersweet end to a year full of obstacles for Head Coach Earl Diddle — who dealt with the loss of multiple starters throughout the season.
“I think overall, with the adversity we had, I am really proud of our team,” Diddle said. “I have never dealt with this in 42 years of coaching. I find it interesting — some teams can lose one player and their season goes under. We lost three, four, five starters; and the kids played so well. It really speaks to the character of the team.”
Howard College finished 19-11 on the season and wrapped up Western Junior Conference Athletic Conference play with a record of 7-7.
The Hawks finished in fifth place — just one slot short of making a Region V tournament appearance.
Already the top seed in the WJCAC, the Howard College men wrapped up conference play with a dominating, 118-48 win over struggling Frank Phillips College on Thursday.
The Plainsmen never had a chance, as HC limited them to just 14 points in the first half.
The Hawks looked good in every facet of the game — they stole, they rebounded and they blocked shots — but with six Hawks shooting in double digits, the offense simply overwhelmed FPC.
Shooting 64% from the field goal range, Cameron Forte led the onslaught with 23 points, DaShaun Wiggins put up 18, Phillip Miller had 17, Marcus Fuggins accounted for 16, Goran Huskic chipped in 15, Ladon carter added 12. Other scorers included Rico Richardson with nine, while Prince Williams and Jamal Reynolds each contributed four in the rout.
Richardson — the Hawks' point guard — believes his team is peaking at the just the right time.
“It's all about adjusting,” said Richardson, who is a two-year player under Head Coach Mark Adams. “You have to get the players to adapt to Coach Adams. He's a tough coach and we struggled with that at the beginning, but I feel like we're coming together. We're starting to get it. That always works, that always helps a team at this point and time in the season.”
Richardson said with the way Hawks have been playing — they have won 10 of their last 11 games — they are poised for a successful tournament run.
“We have a real good chance to win it,” Richardson added. “We just have to take it game by game. We have the talent and I think everyone is starting to buy in — it's just about — if we bring it on that day or not.”
As for Adams — who won a state championship in 2010 — agrees with Richardson about the level of talent, but said their are a few things his squad has to be mindful of.
“I think we have more depth this year than the team that won it all,” Adams said. “I think we score just as well, but we aren't as solid on defense. We have to work on our defensive positions, get more rebounds and practice a lot of blocking out drills. That's been our Achille's Heel all season — our inability to rebound.”
The Hawks will make their debut in this year's regional tournament Thursday at the Rip Griffin Center on the Lubbock Christian University campus.
Tip off against Temple College is slated for 7 p.m.