The Keene State men’s basketball team had their season opener Saturday night at the Spaulding Gymnasium, taking down Western New England 105-69. Coming off the success Keene saw last year, it was exciting to see the return of fifth-year Jeff Hunter and junior Octavio Brito. By their side was newcomer senior Alonzo Linton.
The Owls started their lead two minutes into the game, never trailing after this. Back-to-back layups from Brito and Linton helped bring the Owls up to 19-11. A few minutes later, at the 11:11 mark, senior Mason Jean Baptiste hit a three and brought the Owls ahead into double digits. A bucket from WNE tried to close the double-digit lead but ended up proving no good. A shot from Baptiste and another from junior Tahmeen Dupree made it 29-14. A three from Linton brought them to 32-18 with just 7:37 left in the half. Linton wasn’t done yet, draining two threes within just 25 seconds and Brito finding his own. The Owls went into half at 53-29. Keene shot 54 percent in the first half.
The boys started off strong once again in the second half, with threes from senior Nate Siow and Baptiste. After this, D3hoops preseason All-American Jeff Hunter became the third player in program history to grab 1,000 rebounds in their career. Before the spotlight could set, it moved over to Brito as he drained another three, bringing the Owls up 76-41 and becoming the 39th member of Keene’s 1,000 career point club, where he joined Hunter, who made it there last December. The Owls reached 100 points with 3:29 left on the clock. This was Hastings’ first career win. Hastings has been with the program as an assistant coach since the 2016-2017 campaign.
Nikolas O’Connor can be contacted