By Josh Smith, Contributing Writer
After losing their second game of the season against Concord University on Feb. 9, the Toppers are heading into the final two games of the season on a three-game winning streak. The WLU Hilltoppers (24-2, 18-2 MEC), in their final regular season game, will travel 12-miles off the hilltop to face their local rivals, the Wheeling Jesuit University Cardinals (20-6, 14-6 MEC) at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25.
The Toppers are sporting a three-game winning streak with big wins against Virginia Wise, West Virginia Wesleyan, and Glenville State, two of which were won without their lead scorer Dan Monteroso. Most importantly, however, the Toppers faced off against the Wheeling Jesuit Cardinals earlier in the season. In arguably the most intense game of the season, the Toppers won 96-90 in double overtime. The Hilltoppers are hoping their past victory against the Cardinals will allow them to finish their regular season on a good note.
In the last two seasons, the Cardinals and Toppers have split their season series, both winning and losing once. No matter the venue of the game or how talented one of the teams is, a Toppers vs. Cardinals basketball game almost exclusively goes down to the wire. The Toppers are hoping to sweep their season series against the Cardinals on Saturday.
The Toppers are continuing to put up huge numbers on the scoreboard, scoring 98 points per game, nearly 21 points a game more than their opponents. Not only are they scoring nearly 100 points a game, as a team they are shooting lights out in nearly every category. The Toppers are shooting 49 percent from the field, 37 percent from three-point range, and 72 percent from the charity stripe.
Junior graduate transfer Dan Monteroso has sat out injured with a sprained ankle in the last two games. He is averaging just over 19 points and six rebounds a game, shooting a team-high 64 percent from the field, 47 percent from three, and 80 percent from the free-throw line. At this time, Monteroso’s status for the Jesuit game is uncertain.
Seniors Devin Hoehn and Zac Grossenbacher continue to be huge for the Toppers, as they recently played their last game on the hilltop on senior day against Glenville State. Hoehn is averaging 16 points, four rebounds, and three assists a game. He is shooting 45 percent from the field, 36 percent from three, and 81 percent from the charity-strike. Grossenbacher is averaging nearly a double-double, with ten points and nine rebounds a game while shooting 46 percent from the field, 38 percent from three, and 69 percent from the free-throw line.
Sophomore David Dennis continues to be a near walking triple-double. Dennis is averaging 13 points, six assists and five rebounds a game. His sophomore counter-part James Griffin also continues to impress in his first season as a Hilltopper. He is averaging nine points and four rebounds a game.
You are not going to want to miss the Toppers’ final regular season game against the Cardinals. Be sure to grab next week’s Trumpet for more game previews.