Local colleges eyeing conference tourneys

It’s the stretch run in local college men’s and women’s basketball.

And right now, the Rivier University and Daniel Webster College teams are scrambling to get whatever position they can get for their respective conference tournaments – presuming they all make them.

Here’s a look at what each team sees they look at the final week-plus of the regular season:

DANIEL WEBSTER MEN: The Eagles have some dynamic players, including Nashua’s Ray Farmer and Ryan Gauthier, plus recent NECC honoree Rondell Best. The made the conference semis a year ago, and at last look were in the middle of the standings pack at 5-6 (8-12 overall).

Right now the NECC belongs to Southern Vermont (12-0 in league play at last look) with Becker and Elms having six losses between them thereafter.

The Eagles have been led by Best, who averages 19.2 points and 10.0 rebounds a game. Farmer is at 14.1 points and 6.9 boards. Down the stretch the Eagles face Newbury and Mitchell at the Vagge and have to travel to face Becker and Southern Vermont to finish, so the slate isn’t easy. The best they can probably do is try to secure home court for the tourney’s first round.

DWC WOMEN: The Eagles (6-8 conference, 8-13 overall at last look) had their season somewhat saved by some players getting healthy and dynamic transfer and post player Jillian Gillman (20 points, eight rebounds and five blocks in the team’s recent rout of Newbury).

The best this team can salvage is perhaps home court for a first-round game in a conference dominated by Regis (14-0), Wheelock (11-2) and Mitchell (10-4).

Gillman, who set a school record with 14 blocked shots in a 70-63 loss to Elms, is averaging 16.7 points and 12.6 boards a game while senior mainstay Ashley England is right behind her in scoring at 16.4 points a game.

The Eagles were slated to be at Southern Vermont on Wednesday and after that have three games left: home Saturday against Newbury and then at Wheelock and and Becker next week to finish. Like the men, not easy.

RIVIER MEN: Despite a tough season in which their longtime coach, Dave Morissette, abruptly retired at the start, the Raiders (3-11 conference, 3-18 overall at last look) were hoping to mathematically hang in for the final GNAC tourney spot with bottom-tier teams Suffolk, St. Joe’s of Maine and Norwich.

Johnson & Wales (14-0) Lasell (13-1) and Albertus Magnus (10-3) are the conference power brokers.

In any event, a strong finish would bode well for interim coach and Nashua native Lance Bisson, who is expected to keep the job, as he’s been seen everywhere on the recruiting trail. His current team, though, lacks scoring punch with only two players in double figures – senior Anthony Simmons (12.4 ppg) and junior Victor Davila (10.6). Davila scored a season-high 18 in a recent 92-82 loss to Albertus Magnus.

The Raiders, who missed the tourney a year ago, are at Suffolk, Anna Maria and then home against Norwich to finish the year.

RIVIER WOMEN – The Raiders are also fighting for a spot (3-5, 8-13 at last look). Hanging in the bottom half with them are Lasell (4-5) and Mount Ida (3-6). Longtime Riv nemesis St. Joeseph’s (Maine) has been atop the standings at 7-0 with Johnson & Wales enjoying a good women’s year as well at 8-1 (20-2 overall).

Scoring-wise, the Raiders have been pretty solid with three in double figures – Nashua’s Caitlyn Perry, a junior, with a solid 18.4 ppg season, and freshman guard Kaylee Kacavas at 13.8 points and Londonderry junior Savanna Butterfield at 13.1 to go with nine boards.

After visiting Suffolk, the Raiders host Anna Maria on Saturday and end at Norwich on Feb. 20 with a non-league game vs. Fisher in between.

Best of the best

Best has been strong in the NECC down the stretch, which is why the 6-foot-7 Brockton, Mass. junior was recently named conference player of the week. Best averaged 28 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists over his last two games. That included a 36-point effort vs. Wheelock, the fourth-best single game for points on record in school annals. It’s the highest since Mike Maggiacomo’s 36 in a game against Suffolk back in January 2003.

Best had 17 field goals in the Wheelock game, second highest per game total in school history, surpassing his 16 that he hit on Jan. 12

Rivier owns rivalry

You want a one-sided rivalry? Try the one between the Rivier and Endicott men’s volleyball teams.

The Raiders swept Endicott 3-0 last week and while the games were close (25-22, 25-20, 25-22), the history between the two isn’t.

The Raiders are 32-5 in the pair’s all-time series and have won the last 11 matches against the Gulls.

Grant Andler led Riv with 14 kills while Mike Hadder had 11 putaways. Tyler Blank had an amazing 43 assists while Nick Ochoa had 10 digs.

Riv had previously recorded a win over MIT in the "Live Free or Die" Invitational. In the same round-robin event held at both the Muldoon and the Vagge, DWC (5-7) topped Sage 3-0 as Eagle Ryan Howdeshell had 10 kills and seven aces.

Riv frosh rolling

Rivier named Kacavas as its Female Student Athlete of the Month for January, and for good reason. The Dracut, Mass. freshman shot 38 percent from 3-point range and averaged 17.1 points a game for the month.

Kacavas also had 43 rebounds, 30 of them on the defensive end. Her play helped pace the Raiders to a three-game GNAC winning streak, while her scoring high was 22 points vs. St. Joseph (Conn.)