Basketball teams start spring season strong


Myles Burns (3) finishes a fastbreak with a dunk against Stillman College. on Jan. 22. Both Loyola basketball teams have gotten out to hot starts this season, with both team appearing in every NAIA top 25 poll since Jan. 13. Maria Marino/The Maroon Photo credit: Maria Paula Marino

Deja Magee

Loyola’s men’s and women’s basketball teams have become staples in the NAIA Coaches’ Top 25 Polls since the end of winter break. The men’s team ranked 12th, and the women’s team ranked 24th in the country in the NAIA’s latest polls published on Jan. 27.

Last month, the men’s team broke the school record for margin of victory in a win and started 2-0 in conference play. The women’s team sits at 13-1 overall, and 8-1 in Southern States Athletic Conference play as of Feb. 6.

Women’s basketball head coach Kellie Kennedy said she’s proud of her team for working hard toward their goals during times of uncertainty.

“It’s been a crazy year and will continue to be with us as we move forward through a kind of uncertainty that we have never seen,” Kennedy said. “Our group has worked hard, but maintaining consistency has been a challenge.”

Kennedy said she thinks she has a great group this season. She said she’s impressed by seniors Presley Wascom and Chelsea Gray for their consistent hard work and care for the team’s success and their teammates. Sophomore Taylor Thomas and junior Kennedy Hansberry contribute to the team’s leading by being asked to defend opponents’ best players, according to Kennedy.

The women’s basketball team has had multiple games canceled this season due to COVID-19. They had a 37-day break between games during the holidays and have had to be quarantined as well. Kennedy said these delays have affected the team’s conditioning and ability to prepare for upcoming games.

“It has been a struggle to play games and get that experience for our group, not only for the newcomers but also for our ability to come together as a group,” Kennedy said. “We need more opportunities to compete together, and hopefully, we will get many more of those as the season progresses.”

Men’s basketball coach Stacy Hollowell is pleased with his team’s performance this season. Hollowell said they have handled the obstacles thrown at them and continued to stay focused on their success.

“This group is high energy,” Hollowell said. “They can rebound well and put up a lot of points.”

Hollowell describes his team as having many forms of leadership. He said Terry Smith Jr. understands the team’s expectations and keeps the guys motivated while junior Myles Burns energizes the team with his defense and athleticism.

“I see leadership qualities in all of our guys,” Hollowell said.