By Ryan Day | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Saints snapped an eight-game winning streak with consecutive losses against Barry and West Georgia to close out the season with a 20-7 record, the program’s first 20-win season since 2004.
In what would be his last collegiate game at Flagler, senior forward Bryan Borstelmann scored 10 points against West Georgia, making for 1,394 career points. He will leave the Saints as the program’s fourth-highest point scorer.
“I’ve been really proud of Bryan,” Head Coach Bo Clark said. “It’s going to be very hard to replace him. He’s been a solid player and a great leader for this team. It’s very rare to see a guy with the combination of his size [6 feet 7 inches] and ability to drive and shoot the three [234 career threes — second in the program’s history]. I’m going to miss him.”
Borstelmann would have had a chance to add to those totals in the National Independent Tournament in Washington, D.C., the week of March 1, but Clark decided to pull his team out of the tournament, citing declining interest among competing schools.
“It was originally supposed to be eight teams, but as we started getting closer to the tournament date, I think a few teams had already dropped out, making for only five teams,” Clark said. “You’re expecting an eight-team tournament and it loses its appeal. It’s like planning a trip out west to see the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, Teatown, packing up and finding out the Grand Canyon is the only one left. It’s just not as fun.”
That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t think his Saints would have done well.
“The first team we would have played was Columbia-Union,” Clark said. “We played them earlier in the year and beat them by, what was it, 60? It just wasn’t worth a whole week of missed classes.”
Clark said he’ll use the money the program would have spent on the tournament for recruitment, flying potential Flagler players out to visit the school and talk with coaches.
“Recruiting bigger guys will be a large part of our offseason because it’s bigger guys that can get those rebounds,” Clark said. “There’s some games where a team will shoot, rebound and have a second or even third shot at the basket.
“Some games … in warm ups, I look around and see players on opposing teams big enough that I think, ‘That guy could be playing for Memphis.’ We need size to compete because we’ve got to get better for the Sunshine State Conference. Our next recruiting class will be the most important we’ve had for a while because we’re going to have our toughest schedule yet.”
But Clark is quick to point out that the negatives on the team are overshadowed by all the positives he’s seen this year.
“The team’s been remarkable … and the freshmen have just grown so fast,” Clark said. “D.J. Ferguson has been our poor man’s Steve Nash. He’s had an excellent freshman season. He’s been exceeding all expectations. Kenny Moore, too. And Jon Pietkiewicz. Jon’s second on the team in points right now.”
Not only did the freshmen trio’s growth exceed Clark’s expectations, but the expectations of Flagler’s opponents.
“To be honest, I think a lot of schools, a lot of people, saw us as just puppies going up against the Labradors and German Shepherds like West Georgia and West Florida,” he said. “I like that. I like that the ‘puppies’ were able to scratch out wins against some very impressive programs.
“But the greatest thing I can probably say about this team is that it has excellent chemistry. You know, I lost my mom on Nov. 4 and she would have been really proud of this team. She would have just loved the way they’re playing, the way they get along, the way they come together and have just become a family after a hard-fought loss. And I’m not saying losing my mom is on the same level as losing a game, but it’s a fact of life that we’re all going to face adversity. I think that’s what sports do well. It forces you to face adversity and face a loss and come together and rally together and overcome.”