By ZACH JAFFE
Hopkins opened its season against the Lynchburg College Hornets at home and hit a bit of a roadblock.
Coming off a season that saw the Blue Jays finish one Jimmy Hammer bucket away from the Elite Eight, this was not the start expected by head coach Bill Nelson.
Lynchburg led early but Hopkins was able to seize momentum and eventually take the lead with 11:50 left in the first half.
Sophomore Kyle Doran’s put back dunk off of a miss highlighted the first half for the Jays. Hopkins would go into the half with a 35-29 lead after three consecutive stops and buckets.
Senior captain Gene Williams opened the second half with a three-point play to push the lead to nine and with 17 minutes to go in the half, the Jays led comfortably, 47-37. Lynchburg would slowly chip away for the next five minutes and grab the lead with a jumper from Hornets’ Jay Allen with 11:27 left in the half.
After junior Ryan Curran tied the game with a free throw, the Hornets would fire three consecutive three pointers and see their lead balloon to nine. Hopkins would not be able to rebound from the Hornets’ hot shooting.
Baskets from Doran and Williams brought the Jays within five with 6:52 to play, but it would prove to be too little too late, as the Hornets would go on a quick 8-0 run and increase their lead to 13.
The lead would not get into single digits for the remainder of the game. The final score read 91-80, a shootout of a second half after a modest first.
Doran lead Hopkins with 18 points on 6-13 shooting, and both Williams and Curran added 16.
Hornet senior Jay Allen led all scorers with 26 points on 8-12 shooting and 8-11 from the charity stripe. Senior Alex Graves added a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, to pace both teams.
The Jays will have lots of opportunities to get things back on track. After losing a ton of scoring and leadership from last year’s squad highlighted by graduated seniors George Bugarinovic and Jimmy Hammer, the Jays may need some time to craft a new identity for this team.
The Jays return to action on Friday, Nov. 20 in St. Louis against DePauw University.
They will then take on either Pomona-Pitzer or Washington University (St. Louis) the following day. They open Centennial Conference play on Tuesday, Nov. 24 against the Gettysburg College Bullets.