Jennings having a told-you-so season at Shepherd



February 27, 2003|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Just once Mark Jennings would like to pick up the telephone and call his junior college basketball coach, James Brown, to gloat a little over his team-leading 18-point average at Shepherd College.

"He told me I'd be just another player at Shepherd," said Jennings, a former North County standout. "I only averaged 11 points at Hagerstown [Community College] because we had a lot of talented players and I was the fourth option."

Who knows if Jennings will ever make that call to Brown, but he's proving to people around the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference that he is more than just another player.

The 6-foot-6, 185-pound junior small forward has a complete offensive game.

He is adept at driving to the basket and drawing fouls, which has sent him to the line a team-leading 110 times, of which he has converted 87 for 79.1 percent.

Jennings also is second on the team in three-pointers attempted and made (26 of 81), and likes shooting an assortment of medium-range shots.

He can also handle himself on the boards with a 5.1 average, is second on the team with 15 blocks, third in assists (36) and steals (22), and leads in minutes played a game (32.2).

And he has taken a runaway, team-high 356 shots from the field, making 168 (47.2 percent) for the sometimes-struggling Rams (10-15, 7-9 WVIAC).

"Mark has had an all-conference type of year," said Shepherd coach Ken Tyler. "He's so explosive and will get even better when he adds some weight. Right now, he is great at taking one dribble and pulling up for a 15-footer. I'm trying to get him to penetrate all the way to the basket."

Tyler said Jennings has a chance to continue his career after college "either in the NBA Developmental League or in Europe."

Jennings seems to be peaking for what he hopes is his team's stretch run through the 15-team WVIAC playoffs (starting Tuesday) to the NCAA Division II tournament.

He had 27 points, five rebounds and two assists Thursday night, leading Shepherd past Glenville State to its third straight victory for the first time this season.

"We got tired of losing," Jennings said. "And it helps to be playing a lot at home now. We were on the road before."

Bengel closes in style

Jen Bengel (Roland Park), a freshman forward for Gettysburg's women's basketball team, closed the season strong over the previous five days, scoring 79 points and grabbing 42 rebounds in three games.

On Monday night at McDaniel, in a showdown with the Green Terror for the final playoff spot (second place) in the Centennial Conference's West Division, Bengel scored 24 points, had a career-high 17 rebounds, went 8-for-8 from the free-throw line and was 8-for-13 from the field.

Despite her performance, the season ended for Gettysburg (16-10) when McDaniel pulled out a 64-60 victory.

Saturday night, she had a career-high 31 points in a 91-65 romp past Dickinson.

She ended the season with a team-leading 14.9 scoring average and was second in rebounding with an 8.6 average.

She also contributed 42 assists, 23 steals and eight blocks.

Top of the heap

"The Baltimore boys," also known as Tim Smith (Old Mill) and Jamal Brunt (St. Frances), have completed a magical ride with Randolph-Macon (27-1) to the No. 1 position in the NCAA Division III poll.

The Yellow Jackets were named the top team in the nation yesterday in the poll, moving up one notch from second on the strength of a 15-game winning streak.

Smith and Brunt, both seniors, comprise the starting backcourt for the team. Smith has averaged 6.7 points and Brunt has a 4.2 average, but both players are more important for their team leadership and the rebirth of Randolph-Macon as a national power in the past four years.

Have a Postcard? Contact Bill Free by e-mail at or by phone at 410-833-5349.

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