- Basketball (M)Basketball (M)
Jeffs Rake in NESCAC All-Conference Awards
Contact: Ben Badua
SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. - Guiding the Jeffs to a 25-2 overall record and a second-consecutive conference title, David Hixon ’75 has been named the 2013 NESCAC Coach of the Year, while Aaron Toomey ’14 also garnered special recognition as the conference’s Player of the Year. Willy Workman ’13 joined Toomey as a first team all-league pick, while Peter Kaasila ’13 earned a spot on the second team.
The fourth-winningest coach in NCAA Division III history (688), Hixon secured his first Coach of the Year honor since 2005 (third overall) after helping Amherst capture a sixth NESCAC Championship. Winners of 19-straight, the Jeffs received one of two first round byes in this year’s NCAA Tournament field of 62. Under Hixon’s tutelage, Amherst has posted the second-most wins in DIII since 2000 (270), with the Jeffs posting an unblemished 26-0 mark against conference opponents (including league playoff games) over the last two seasons.
Garnering his second consecutive first team all-NESCAC selection, Toomey is the first Amherst student-athlete to be voted the league’s top player since Andrew Olson ’08 captured back-to-back awards in 2007 and 2008. Averaging 17.1 points per game, the point guard currently sits fifth in the conference in scoring, while ranking second in assists (5.1).
A three-time NESCAC Player of the Week, he enjoyed an impressive three game stretch against Rhode Island, Bates and Tufts in which he averaged 29.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game, while shooting 63.9 percent from the floor, 61.1 percent from three-point range and 93.9 percent from the free throw line. Coming up big at the end of the season, he hit the game winner in a 104-101 triple overtime thriller against nationally ranked Middlebury to help the Jeffs lock up the top seed in the NESCAC tournament. He then poured in 28 points with a career-high eight three pointers in a conference quarterfinal win over Colby.
Becoming the 25th member of the 1,000-point club with 12 points against Brandeis, he currently sits 10th (1,331) on the program’s all-time scoring list. Twice matching a career-high with 34 points against Colby on Jan. 19 and RIC on Jan. 29, he dished out a personal-best 12 assists in a win over Curry on Nov. 17. Shooting a career-high 43.6 percent from the field and 42.6 percent from behind the arc, he has scored in double figures in all five games, while netting at least 20 points on nine occasions.
Notching his second straight all-league honor, Workman moved up to the conference’s first team ranks after garnering second team and Defensive Player of the Year accolades in 2011-12. One of the league’s most versatile players, he sits third in the conference in rebounding (7.7) and blocks (1.6), while also ranking among the league’s leaders in steals (1.4), assists (3.9) and points (12.2).
Posting a team-high seven double-doubles, Workman is shooting nearly 48 percent (.473) from the floor and 39 percent (.388) from long distance, coming up especially big during the final week of the regular season. With the top seed of the NESCAC playoffs on the line, Workman averaged 21.5 points and 13.0 rebounds against No. 8 Williams and No. 7 Middlebury, shooting 66.7 percent from the floor and 55.6 percent from three-point range.
Netting 13 points with 13 boards against the Ephs on Feb. 10, Workman produced a memorable encore two nights later against the Panthers, netting a career-high 30 points, while matching a personal record with 13 more boards. With Amherst down three in the final seconds of the second overtime, the senior made a free throw before intentionally missing the second and putting back the game-tying basket to keep the Jeffs alive. Posting career numbers for points (12.2), field goal percentage (.473) and three-point percentage (.388), Workman joined Toomey in the 1,000-point club with 18 against Bates on Feb. 1.
Named to his first all-conference team, Kaasila is in the midst of banner season, posting career-highs in points (13.7) and rebounds (6.3). Ranking second in the NESCAC in field goal percentage (64.1), the senior center is coming off a pair of stellar performances during the league championships, helping the Jeffs to a second straight title.
Tallying 18 of his game-high 20 points in the second half, Kaasila played an integral role in Amherst’s 80-64 semifinal victory over Tufts, netting six-straight points with the Jeffs down 40-38 to stake the home team to a lead they would not relinquish. Hitting seven of his 11 shot attempts for 14 points during the conference final against Williams, the tri-captain became the latest player to reach the 1,000-point plateau (1,002), while garnering NESCAC Player of the Week honors for his efforts.
With three double-doubles to his credit, Kaasila has scored in double figures in all but six games, netting at least 20 points seven times. Recording a career-high 29 points with 11 rebounds on 13-for-19 shooting in the regular season finale against Middlebury, he pulled down a career-best 15 boards against Bates on Feb. 1.