(Left-Right) Seniors Sean Lowry, Andre Tongo and Patrick Lee have set a school record for wins by a class with its 88-30 record over their career under head coach David McLaughlin (far right).
Men's basketball captains Lee, Tongo, Lowry 88-30 in four years together
By Jim Fenton
ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER
EASTON – They have set the standard for wins over a four-year career with the Stonehill College men's basketball team.
Senior captains Patrick Lee, Andre Tongo and Sean Lowry have gone 88-30 since arriving on campus in 2008 and are making an unprecedented fourth straight trip to the NCAA Div. 2 tournament.
Lee, Tongo and Lowry broke the record for victories by a class that had been set just last year by Mike Kernan, Daniel Heppert and Sean Costigan, who went 85-36.
"It's perfect for them,'' said Stonehill coach David McLaughlin. "It's exactly who they are. They're winners. They're leaders. They're really high-character guys.
"They are the type of guys who you want representing your program and Stonehill College. The great thing about them is they got better each year and are playing their best basketball right now, which is the way you want it to be.''
The second-seeded Skyhawks (21-8) open the East Regional on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. against seventh-seeded University of the District of Columbia at Assumption College inWorcester.
"It feels great to be part of a program that does have a lot of players that come through here,'' said Tongo. "For us to have a huge achievement like (the record) and win the NE-10 championship, it feels great to be a part of.
Hopefully, we've got a few more games in us to make a bigger impact on the program.''
Lee, Tongo and Lowry began their stays at Stonehill together along with Ivan Almeida, who did not return this season.
The three received little playing time as freshmen when the Skyhawks went 21-8 and Lee moved into the rotation as a sophomore during a 24-6 season. Lee started and Tongo was in the rotation in 2010-11 when Stonehill was 22-8 and the two are starting this season with Lowry appearing in 19 games.
After the Skyhawks lost their top three scorers and three of their leading rebounders from last season – Kernan, Heppert and Almeida – help was needed if the team's winning ways were to continue. In his first season as a starter, Tongo is averaging 13.3 points and 4.9 rebounds and was named the Most Outstanding Player in the Northeast-10 Conference tournament, won by Stonehill last weekend.
Lee is averaging 10.8 points and 8.6 rebounds and was picked as the conference's Defensive Player of the Year and made the All-NE-10 third team.
Like the upperclassmen before them, this year's seniors have stepped up and provided the leadership to keep Stonehill on a winning path. "It's actually been the same situation all the years I've been here,'' said Lee. "After my freshman year, people said we lost these players, how are we going to make up for it? Same thing the last two years. We always know we're going to have guys step up and take on bigger roles.''
Said Lowry: "It seems like every year that I've been here there's a big question mark of what the heck happens next year because we just lost this person and that one.
The answer is who is coming in.
"(Freshman) Jack Cole and (transfer) Raheem (May-Thompson), without those two, we wouldn't be where we are. It's about guys buying in to what we're trying to do. It if wasn't for all 13 guys, we wouldn't be where we are.''
The winning tradition that McLaughlin has built at Stonehill continues with back-to-back senior classes setting record for most wins. "That was one of our goals coming into the season, knowing we had a chance to get there,'' said Lee. "It's awesome we met the goal. There have been so many great teams here before.
"It's just the consistency of the guys coming in and willing to work for it, willing to work hard. Guys always have the right mindset and know that if you do work hard and do things the right way, the outcome will be a winning season.''