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Lycoming Hoops

Daylight savings is always an adjustment. And after two weeks, I am still struggling. It gets dark at 4:30. No more golf. Forget fishing. Can’t even mow grass. Depressing.

Thankfully, the basketball season is now upon us. My favorite sport will help fill the void. I no longer coach, but I love to sit in the stands and spectate. My son Jensen is a 9th grader at Williamsport Area. He loves the hoops scene as much as his father. Basketball plays a huge part in our relationship. We shoot around quite often, and I pick him up from every practice.

I look forward to his upcoming games. Home and away. I need an oil change.

We also try to head over to Dutch Burch Court to see our beloved Lycoming College Warriors. We have courtside season tickets. Jensen and I have been to many games. This year’s squad and atmosphere will be rather different. Second-year Head Coach Mark Linebaugh will have his hands full. The Warriors are now in the LANDMARK CONFERENCE — a change from the MIDDLE ATLANTIC. Lycoming will be facing many new teams — unfamiliar territory. Linebaugh also had to replace several players because of graduation.

“The Landmark Conference is well respected,” Coach Mark told reporters. “We are excited with balance and competitive spirit. Yes. We lost seven seniors, but I have been really pleased with the effort. The older guys have really set the tone. They are teaching the others what being a college student-athlete is like. I like our group. You can see that they’re getting more and more comfortable with what we’re trying to accomplish on both sides of the ball.”

Steve Hamilton is a fantastic player. The guard is coming off a stellar junior season. Steven started all 27 games last year and averaged 11.8 points. He was named second-team all-conference. What a stud. Handsome too. Senior Brandon Blackson is another Warrior who has some experience. He averaged 5.2 points per game. Mifflinburg’s Isiah Valentine played well as a frosh. Look for him to contribute more. Valentine is a very flashy athletic guard. I played hoops with his father. Dude? Williamsport’s JJ Beagle is also getting better. The 6’7″ sophomore forward will be leaned on. JJ is a great kid, and he is a solid defender. Danville’s Mav James is another athlete who will get some minutes. His dad officiated some of our games. I love the local flavors.

My man, Hayden Pardoe, will contribute immediately. The freshman from Lock Haven scored 22 points off the bench in the Warriors home opening victory. Pardoe is a lanky 6’6″ sniper with a terrific smile. I watched him grow up as I went to school with his parents. I was so excited when he chose to come to Lycoming. Hayden has an opportunity to become a prominent player. He has all the tools, and he will only get stronger. He’s a throwback.

“I was thrilled to hit a few shots early,” Pardoe stated. “The college game is quite different. Everything moves so much faster. I also have to get used to the physicality. Man. These guys are grown men. They can all play. I was just excited to help my team win.”

Division III basketball is fantastic. And I have seen my share of games. The game itself is one thing, but being able to establish a relationship with these youngsters is what makes it so great. Lycoming College has had some great players. But more importantly, they were even better people. I have an impressive list of guys that I continue to stay in touch with.

“We have a great group of guys,” Pardoe continued. “It’s a perfect balance. The older guys have been very valuable. They are showing us the ropes. Helping us get to the next level. Our team has become my extended family. We are growing both on and off the court. We hope to compete for a conference title. Coach asks us to get better each day. Brick by brick.”

Lycoming is currently 1-0. They defeated Lebanon Valley 67-55 on Wednesday. Pardoe was superb. Several others performed well. I am looking forward to another fun season with my young friends. Go Warriors. Dutch Burch Court. Cheers.