How quickly the narrative of a season can change.
The first two months of the STLCC men’s basketball schedule was marked by a combination of youth and inexperience that saddled the Archers with a 1-8 start.
Buoyed by strong performances against Arkansas State Mid-South and Mineral Area Community College entering a nearly two-week break, the Archers returned to the court with a pair of rousing wins over eighth-ranked Moberly and 2014-15 Division II national runner-up, John Wood, in a 24-hour period.
Sunday’s 60-59 victory over John Wood gave STLCC four wins in its past five games.
“I guess it’s a continuation of the improvement we’ve shown in recent weeks, and having the break and then coming back with four days to focus on getting better,” head coach Terry Collins said.
With multiple weeks away from the court, Collins was able to re-focus his Archers on not necessarily contouring its play toward a single opponent, but instead implementing wholesale improvements to each aspect.
“We just worked on getting better,” Collins said. “We just tried to pick up where we left off and get better from there. It’s hard to say what the impact is going to be. We practiced hard for four days, and we caught Moberly a bit, and they may have overlooked us a bit."
The Archers were guided offensively by sophomore guard Nate Rigmaiden, who returned from break to turn in some of his best basketball of the season over the 24-hour period. Rigmaiden scored 49 points over the two-game stretch, carrying an otherwise quiet offense in a 69-67 upset over Moberly Area, as well as Sunday’s win over John Wood CC. Forward DaVante Harrell also contributed 21 points against Moberly.
The two victories signaled a much different team than the one Collins deployed in November.
“I think we’ve gotten tougher because of (the schedule). The tough part of that gamble is that it has a chance to bury you and your confidence if you don’t come through, but we summoned the will to pull one out against Mid-South. I think that kind of sets the stage, and taking down Moberly just increased the confidence. John Wood is a little like us, was the Division II runners-up last year, so that was a big one, too. “
“I think the significant part of tonight is that we could have been satisfied knocking off the No. 8 Division I team in the country, but to come back with another tough win gives us a chance to come back with a higher level of expectation. You have to keep earning that. I think this week will be a very significant week. Are we still hungry? Do we want to keep getting better? I think we have a chance to really carve out a level of confidence that we haven’t had here before. We have one day to enjoy it and it’s back to work on Tuesday.”
The Archers return to action Tuesday at Lincoln College. STLCC defeated Lincoln 67-64 on Dec. 15, the only previous meeting between the two teams this year.