Lock Haven University men’s basketball coach Mike Nestor certainly has a young group this year. With 10 new players on the roster, eight being freshman, the challenge of beginning a new season from nearly scratch would seem daunting.
However, that’s not the way that this season has begun with Nestor’s latest cohesive group.
Senior guard Cole Renninger flirted with a triple-double, redshirt-freshman Amir Hinton scored 27 points and the Bald Eagles defeated Carlow 90-71 on Nov. 22, propelling them to their best start in 23 years at 4-1.
Ra’eese Hunt chipped in 15 points while Brahieme Jackson had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Renninger had 14 points, 10 rebounds, and finished two assists shy of Lock Haven’s second triple-double in program history. The lone triple-double in program history came two seasons ago, complements of All-American guard Wali Hepburn.
Hinton, the freshman-sensation, has dazzled since his 32 point outburst in Lock Haven’s exhibition contest at Penn State. He’s scored 21 or more points in four out of his first five games in his college career, averaging 22.4 points on the season.
Against Carlow, Hinton show 12-17 from the field and scored his highest point total of the season in only 24 minutes. He also leads the team in minutes at 33 per-game and assists with three, while coming in at second on the team in rebounds with a six per-game average.
Hunt and Hinton are the Bald Eagles’ only two players scoring in double figures, but when you look at the stat lines, a much more balanced approach has taken place from Lock Haven’s supporting cast.
Fellow redshirt freshman Jihad Barnes has started all five games and is averaging 9.4 points per-contest. He is also shooting 44 percent from beyond the arch, which leads the team.
Jackson is right behind Barnes, averaging 8.8 points.
Renninger has been such an all-around smooth player for the Eagles, averaging 8.2 points, five rebounds, and three assists. The Lehigh transfer is averaging a cool 3:1 assist to turnover ratio.
Along with the non-conference schedule, Lock Haven has played two PSAC games, splitting both with a loss to Indiana (Pa.) and stomping Seton Hill by 17.
The PSAC gauntlet begins for real on Saturday, as Lock Haven will play the final three games of a four game road trip at Gannon. Matchups at Clarion and Pittsburgh (Johnstown) will follow.
It is shaping up to be an exciting conference season for Lock Haven, as watching this team grow and mature together will be a highly-anticipated sight.
Photo: By Tim Barnhart