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Owl Hoop Teams to Host Tournaments This Weekend

KEENE, N.H. 11/17/09 - Owl basketball fans will need to keep a program handy when they attend this weekend’s Keene State Adrenaline Circuit Tip-Off men’s and women’s basketball tournament.

Both Keene State teams feature a host of newcomers with a combined 15 players making their Spaulding Gym debut on Friday and Saturday. “There are a lot of new faces on both teams,” said KSC Coach Rob Colbert. “I think the fans are going to enjoy seeing some very talented players this weekend.”

The 15th Annual Keene State Adrenaline Circuit women’s basketball tournament gets underway on Friday, with the Owls facing Maine-Fort Kent at 3 p.m. Castleton (Vt.) State will take on Utica (N.Y.) College in the other first- round game at 5 p.m. Consolation (1 p.m.) and championship games (3 p.m.) are scheduled for Saturday. Proceeds from the first day of the tournament will go to former Owl standout Laura Bennett Kules and her family, who recently lost their home in a fire.

The 10th annual KSC Adrenaline Circuit men’s basketball tournament tips off at 7 p.m. on Friday, with Keene State going up against Fitchburg State University. Conn. College will take on Fisher College, a NAIA school from Boston, at 9 p.m. The tournament concludes on Saturday with the consolation contest (5:30 p.m.) and championship game (7 p.m.).

“Our focus right now is all about improving,” said KSC women’s basketball coach Keith Boucher. “There are some quality teams in the tournament, so we’re going to have our hands full defending the championship.”

“It should be a very competitive tournament with contrasting styles of play,” said Colbert, six wins shy of becoming KSC’s all-time leader in victories by a men’s basketball coach. “This will be a good test for us. It will be interesting to see how we handle playing on back-to-back days.”

The Owl women, who have won their tournament 13 out of the past 14 years, bring a 0-1 record into Friday’s first-round game. The Owls opened their season with a 66-50 loss to RPI on Monday. Junior guard Sara Laudano (North Haven, Conn.) scored 17 points and pulled down a career high 11 rebounds. She said the team is excited about its home opener. “We’re very anxious to bounce back from Monday’s game,” said Laudano. “I think the players will respond to the support they get from the school and the community.”

An NAIA Division II school, Maine-Fort Kent returns seven players and four starters from last year’s team that posted a 18-9 record and captured its fifth Sunrise Conference Championship in the past seven years. Top returning players for the Bengals include senior guard Amber Garrison (7.8 ppg), junior forward Maliesha Caesar (7.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and sophomore guard Morgan Chasse (9.8 ppg).

Utica College, which opened its season with a 66-48 victory over SUNY-Potsdam on Monday, is led by senior All-American Jessica Berry. The Pioneers, who received votes in the preseason poll, advanced to the NCAA Division III tournament and won their second Empire-8 Conference tournament championship in three years last season.

The Castleton Spartans, who went 17-11 and reached the finals of the NAC tournament last season, return their top three leading scorers from a year ago: senior Kristie Dunchas (8.3 ppg) junior point guard and NAC All-Star Christine Jaques (11.3 ppg) and junior wing Vanessa Powers (9.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg).

Keene State defeated the University of New England 84-47 to claim last year’s Invitational championship.

The Keene State men’s basketball team saw its string of nine consecutive tip- off crowns end last year with a 103-93 loss to Thomas College in the championship game.

The Owls enter the tournament with a 1-0 record. KSC used a late second-half spurt and held off Rivier College 73-67 at the Jacob’s Bridge through Autism tournament on Monday. Sophomore Anthony Mariano (Naugatuck, Conn.) led the Owls with 18 points, and Ollie Hunter (Bedford, N.H.), one of seven newcomers on the team, chipped in with 13 points and five rebounds.

“We look like a completely different team from last year. Defensively, we really picked it up,” said Mariano. “We’re looking forward to winning the tournament.”

Keene State’s opening-round opponent Fitchburg State brings a 0-1 record into Friday night’s game. The Falcons dropped an 84-71 road contest to Clark University on Monday. Junior Tom Henneberry, a transfer from UMass-Dartmouth, led FSC with 23 points. Fitchburg lost its five starters from last year’s 8-18 team.

Conn. College will open up its season against Fisher College on Friday. The Camels, coming off a 10-14 campaign, will be led by the junior duo of guards Brian Mahoney and Demetrius Porter and sophomore Rob Harrigan. Porter was the 2009 NESCAC rookie of the year.

A member of the Sunrise Conference, Fisher College brings a 1-4 record to the tournament. After opening up their season with a 123-54 win over Maine- Augusta, the Falcons have dropped their last four games, including losses to Robert Wesleyan (75-53) and Houghton College (99-87) in last weekend’s Nyack College tournament. Senior guard Louis Williams (25.2 ppg), the Sunrise Conference player of the year last season, leads Fisher in scoring.

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