Last year's basketball campaign did not go exactly as planned for the Southwest Trojans.
On top of having a young squad, the team was plagued by injuries and finished the season 4-20. But, this is a new year and the Trojans started it out with a convincing 56-44 victory over Wheaton.
"It is a big load off our back," said Southwest head coach Jason Horn.
A year ago Southwest had three running clocks put on them during the season. One was to Mt. Vernon and current Missouri State player Thomas Brock. The other two came at the hands of the Wheaton Bulldogs. Southwest took that to heart this year and despite a let down in the third quarter rallied to win their first conference matchup.
The Trojans led at the half 31-21, but Wheaton rallied and trailed by as few as one in the third quarter. However, Southwest finished strong, hitting a 13-2 run that helped them finish the Bulldogs.
Southwest shot the ball well, hitting 53 percent (25-47) from the floor. The Trojans also continually harassed Wheaton, finishing with 15 steals while forcing 16 Wheaton turnovers. The squad also showed a great amount of effort, scoring 24 of their points off of offensive rebounds or fast breaks (also known as hustle points).
Southwest did have a couple of struggles though, hitting only 11 percent (1-9) of their three-point attempts and 45 percent (5-11) of their free throws.
Caleb Mitchell led the team, finishing with 16 points and nine rebounds. Five of the junior's rebounds were on the offensive side. He also tallied two blocks and steals.
Codie Harmon also did well for Southwest, pouring in 16 points and six steals of his own.
Levi Roberts had 11 points and two steals. Josh Hartin finished with 9 points, four steals and four assists, and Matt Whittington chipped in with 2 points and five rebounds.
Wheaton struggled at times against the Trojan press and only controlled the game in the third quarter. Wheaton turned the ball over 16 times, and they shot 29 percent from three-point range.
Jon Pendergraft led the Bulldogs. The senior center totaled 12 points and six rebounds. Sean Crane also helped, scoring 14 points with three rebounds.
Also scoring for Wheaton were Tyler Brattin and Dalton Brown 13 and 5 points respectively. Brown also had five rebounds.