Records are tumbling at Warren Wilson College
A common adage in sports maintains that records are made to be broken. Some of them, it seems, are made to be broken several times in the same season.
The Warren Wilson College men’s basketball team did just that in the first half of this season, breaking the program record for most points in a game - twice in less than three weeks.
The previous record for the Owls was set in 2016 when they scored 121 points against Piedmont International University. On Nov. 14, in Powell, Tennessee, Warren Wilson put up 144 points against Crown College.
“We were so locked in I didn’t even notice the scoreboard until we were up 70-30 with a few minutes left in the first half,” said the third-year head coach of the Owls, Anthony Barringer. “The guys were doing a great job of focusing on getting (defensive) stops and doing all the little things.”
The Owls put up a school-record 80 points in the first half.
Sophomore guard Jordan Gant was one of the players who made the most of the offensive opportunities created by aggressive play on the defensive end. The guard from Waynesboro, Georgia scored 45 points in the victory over Crown, another program record set that night.
Gant also claimed the school record for three-point field goals with 12, after tying the previous record (9) just four days earlier.
“At the half I looked at the stat sheet and he had 28 points and seven threes,” Barringer said. “His jump shot is so effortless.”
Gant shined defensively as well, leading the way with nine of the Owls' 24 steals.
Senior forward Darius Bryant scored 30 for Warren Wilson while grabbing 14 rebounds. His fellow senior - and Swannanoa Valley native - Mike Pomeroy added 24 points.
Five Warren Wilson players scored in double digits against Crown. Point guards Kahlonn Whitley and Marques Sullivan dished out 26 assists.
The game against Crown was the first of five straight road games for Warren Wilson. The Owls dropped two games against NCAA Division I opponents (N.C. Central University and Gardner-Webb University) and fell to Lindsey Wilson College, the number 23 team in the NAIA Division I during that span.
They returned home on Nov. 29 to beat NCAA Division III Brevard College, a first for the Owls in recent memory.
Two nights later Warren Wilson started the month of December with another offensive explosion, this time breaking the school scoring record in front of the home fans in DeVries Gymnasium with a 148-85 drubbing of Georgia Northwestern Technical College.
Once again Gant led the way for the Owls with 26 points against the Bobcats. He was one of five Warren Wilson players to eclipse the 20-point mark that night.
"We started off slow," Barringer said of his team's second record-breaking performance. "I remember seeing the scoreboard when it was 36-30 and the next time I looked up at it the score was 70-32."
As a team the Owls knocked down nearly 43 percent of the 63 three-pointers they attempted.
Junior Tyquavion Dix played a team-high 33 minutes against the Bobcats and finished with 23 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and a team-high seven steals. Of the eight players on the Warren Wilson roster, only Merault Almonor (9 points) did not reach double digits in scoring.
"That was an example of a game where we really put it all together and dominated," Barringer said.
The Owls are averaging 116 points per game through the first 14 games of the season going into their Dec. 12 match-up with Hiwassee College (results not available as of deadline).
While the team has been impressive at times, Barringer believes the second half of the season, which gets underway on Saturday, Jan. 13 on the road against Bob Jones University, may even be more exciting to watch.
"We still have guys who are learning to play together on the court, and they're figuring that out," he said. "But this is a group of guys that has fun together no matter what they're doing and that transfers onto the floor."
The winter break should allow a handful of players battling injuries to recover, Barringer said. The roster could also get a boost from a handful of players who are looking to transfer to Warren Wilson for the spring semester, which starts in January.
"We have five guys who could potentially be transferring in the spring," Barringer said. "Even if we're only able to bring in three of those guys it could add to what we're already doing in a major way."