Brent Bach entered his senior season ready to accept a larger role.
And he’s delivered.
The Augusta Rifle has helped shoot the Bellarmine University men’s basketball team to a 14-0 start to the season and the top of NCAA Division II polls.
The Knights are the No. 1 ranked team in the nation by the D2SIDA poll that was released Tuesday. It’s the first time they’ve achieved the highest ranking in the history of the poll. In the NABC Division II Coaches' Poll, Bellarmine is ranked the No. 2 team in the country, behind Queens (N.C.).
Bach has averaged 14.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game through 14 games this season, an improvement from 5.2 points and 1.2 rebounds per game last season. As a junior, he shot 57 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from 3-point range, both numbers that he’s managed to improve while averaging 24.2 minutes this season. He’s currently firing 59 percent from the field and 52 percent from beyond the arc.
Augusta’s all-time leading scorer, netting 2,615 points for the Panthers, earned Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Week honors on Monday. He had 18 points in the second half of a 70-63 victory over Maryville University on Jan. 4 to help Bellarmine extend their home winning streak to 51 games, the longest in the country. He followed it by pouring in a career-high 23 points and grabbing a career-high eight rebounds in an 80-58 win at William Jewell College two days later. Bach added 21 points in the Knights’ last game at Lewis University, a 66-54 win.
Bellarmine travels to University of Wisconsin-Parkside, for a 4 p.m. game on Saturday, before returning to Louisville for an 8 p.m. game against University of Southern Indiana on Monday.
Here’s an updated look at some of the successes other area athletes and coaches have seen at the collegiate level lately:
TROY STEWARD AND DARION BURNS, GEORGETOWN COLLEGE
Life has a way of catching up with everybody.
For the Georgetown College men’s basketball team, Thursday was the day Life caught up with them. The Running Eagles handed the Tigers their first loss of the season, 82-77, after a 16-0 start.
Georgetown was the No. 1 ranked team in the latest NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, released Jan. 2.
The Tigers feature a pair of Fleming County graduates in Darion Burns and Troy Steward. Burns has started all 17 games, averaging 3.8 points, 3.7 assists and 3.2 rebounds. Steward has come off the bench in all but one game and is averaging 15.4 points and four rebounds.
Georgetown returns to action on Saturday when they take on No. 24 University of the Cumberlands, who enters with a 14-2 record.
KELLY WELLS, UNIVERSITY OF PIKEVILLE
Thursday was a bad night to be an undefeated NAIA team.
In addition to Georgetown’s loss, the University of Pikeville men’s basketball team dropped their first game of the season, 89-85, to Cumberland, after a 16-0 start and a No. 6 ranking in the last NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Top 25 Poll.
Former Mason County coach Kelly Wells and the Bears return to action on Saturday at Lindsey Wilson, who will try to stay undefeated after a 16-0 start to the season. The No. 8 Blue Raiders are led by a former 10th Region standout in Montgomery County graduate Bryan Wallace, who’s averaging 18.2 points per game. He also averages a team-high 4.9 assists and grabs four rebounds per game. The game is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.
SHAWN JOHNSON, CAMPBELLSVILLE UNIVERSITY
Campbellsville has dropped two straight games, after moving up to No. 15 in the NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Top 25 Poll.
Mason County graduate Shawn Johnson is the fourth Tiger averaging double-digit scoring, putting in 10.3 points per game. He also brings down 6.2 rebounds per game, the second-highest total on the team.
Campbellsville travels to Life University for a 4 p.m. game on Saturday.
BAILEY CUMMINS, SHAWNEE STATE UNIVERSITY
The No. 4 Shawnee State women’s basketball team improved to 15-3 on the season with a 79-71 win over No. 12 Lindsey Wilson on Thursday.
Bracken County graduate Bailey Cummins had 14 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals in the game. She’s now averaging 14.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists. She’s firing 51 percent from the field and 49 percent from 3-point range.
The Bears are scheduled to host Cumberland University at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
BRIANA MCNUTT, THOMAS MORE COLLEGE
The Thomas More women’s basketball team has won 12 straight games to move to 13-1 on the season.
Briana McNutt, a 2017 Mason County graduate, has appeared in every game, averaging 5.6 points while shooting 43 percent from the field and 47 percent from beyond the arc. She also brings down 1.8 rebounds per game. Campbell County graduate Taylor Jolly is averaging 6.4 points and 2.1 rebounds.
The Saints are scheduled to travel to Washington & Jefferson on Saturday for a 2 p.m. game.
BEAU JUSTICE AND BLAKE JUSTICE, VALDOSTA STATE
Valdosta State features a pair of prolific scorers from Peebles.
Blake Justice, a 2011 Peebles graduate, is an assistant for the 13-2 Blazers. Beau Justice, a 2015 graduate of Peebles, is a junior averaging 19.3 points, 3.7 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game. The two combined to score 4,526 points for the Adams County school.
The team is scheduled to make the trip from Georgia to Tennessee for games against Christian Brothers on Saturday and Union on Monday.
MARTINA LYTLE, GEORGETOWN COLLEGE
The Georgetown women’s basketball team has won five of their last seven games to improve to 7-10.
Fleming County graduate Martina Lytle is averaging five points and has brought down a team leading 114 rebounds, good for 6.7 per game.
Georgetown is scheduled to host University of the Cumberlands on Saturday, before taking on No. 4 Shawnee State on Thursday.
WHITNEY O’MARA, BELLARMINE UNIVERSITY
Mason County graduate Whitney O’Mara is averaging 2.9 points, 1.3 points and 1.2 assists per game for the 7-7 Bellarmine University women’s basketball team.
O’Mara scored a career-high 12 points in a 93-79 win against University of Wisconsin-Parkside on Dec. 7. The Knights take on the Rangers in their next game, which is scheduled to be played at 2 p.m. on Saturday.