By Jayson Moyer
February 23, 2017
As Lock Haven men’s basketball heads down the home stretch, they really control their own destiny.
With a team that includes 10 new players, eight of them being freshman, the strides that the Bald Eagles have made this season have been remarkable.
However, those strides would not have been possible without outstanding leadership, especially from senior Cole Renninger (pictured middle.
In Lock Haven’s biggest win of the season, an 86-85 thriller over West Chester at Thomas Fieldhouse on Saturday, Renning sealed the deal for Lock Haven. As the final seconds waned Saturday afternoon, Renninger blocked Malik Jackson’s game-winning three point attempt in front of the West Chester bench.
It was Lock Haven’s biggest play of the season.
“Listen, he just fits in,” said Bald Eagles head coach Mike Nestor. “His work ethic is through the roof. He practices every single day at a high, high level.”
Renninger is Lock Haven’s Matt Jones, a 6-5 senior for Duke who does all of the small things and brings so many intangibles to help win basketball games.
He didn’t score 30 points on Saturday, nor did he hit eight threes. What he did was grab 10 rebounds, dish out seven assists, block two shots, score six points and ultimately made his team’s most important play of the season.
“I thought against Malik Jackson, when you look at his stats the last two games we played against him, he is 2-20 from three,” Nestor said.
“Probably the biggest thing is that [Renninger] was very disciplined on the last play of the game. He stayed down on a shot fake. That’s a tough position to be in.”
It was outstanding defense.
As Nestor pointed out, Renninger’s discipline on the final play was on point. As a matter of fact, discipline has been something that Nestor has spoken about this season. If there is one area that his team can always improve, for him, it is discipline.
“We are preaching discipline, discipline, discipline.”
On top of Renninger’s block, freshman Amir Hinton (pictured right) scored 29 points on 8-13 shooting on Saturday. He went 12-13 from the free throw line and had seven rebounds.
With Hinton being a freshman, Nestor believes he certainly takes some aspects of work and preparation from Renninger.
“I think Amir likes what Cole does,” said Nestor. “He appreciates how hard he does play and I think he understands that he’s being doing this for four years.
“When you see a senior playing that hard everyday, as a freshman, you just kind of look up to that and try to follow in their footsteps in that work ethic world.”
Renninger’s block wasn’t Ray Allen’s corner three in game six of The Finals against the Spurs. It wasn’t Jordan jumping from the free throw line or Kobe scoring 81. There was nothing showtime about it.
It was a defining moment for Renninger, his teammates and his coaches. Teams don’t win if they aren’t together.
“Cole is very good of showing guys how hard they need to work at this level. He practices hard. He is a 100mph guy everyday. It is very easy to follow that.”
As Lock Haven makes their playoff push, they know they will need those leadership qualities that they have gotten from Renninger all season to continue.
If it continues, they will have more moments that define themselves as a basketball team.
And they will do it together.