Hilltoppers advance to Atlantic Region Tournament

By Cody Shook, Sports Editor
The men’s basketball team will travel to Petersburg, Va. this weekend for their ninth straight NCAA Division II Tournament. The regional rankings came out this past Sunday night, and the Hilltoppers fell to the No. 4 seed in the tournament. 

In the first round, they will be taking on the No. 5 seed, the Shippensburg University Raiders, who went 23-7 on the year. If they can advance to the second round, they will play either Virginia State or Virginia Union
The Hilltoppers dominated the 2017-2018 regular season by putting up a 25-2 record, which gave them national attention, and a top ten ranking in Division II. For most of the regular season, the Hilltoppers were ranked first in the Atlantic Region, but after a heartbreaking loss to rival Wheeling Jesuit on the final day of the regular season, the Hilltoppers fell to the number two spot in the region going into the conference tournament.
This Hilltopper team shocked everybody after losing legendary head coach Jim Crutchfield, and still managed to start the season on an 18-game winning streak before losing to Fairmont State University in a one point nail biter. Rebounding quickly, the Hilltoppers strung together seven straight wins to clinch the No. 1 seed going into the Mountain East Conference Tournament.  
With the number one seed, West Liberty took on West Virginia State in the first round and this high scoring affair broke numerous Mountain East Conference Tournament records. Senior guard Dan Monteroso set MEC Tournament records for free throws made and attempted by going 18-for-19 from the free throw line. Monteroso also tied a career high 40 points while leading the Hilltoppers to the first round victory by a score of 133-106. 
They then moved on to the semifinals, where they fell 93-95 in an overtime thriller against Charleston University. The Toppers came out of the gates red hot, jumping to a 24 point lead, but after halftime, the shots stopped falling and the momentum started to shift in favor of the Golden Eagles. Monteroso lead the Hilltoppers with 29 points and freshman Dalton Bolon added 23 points and five rebounds. 
Going into the regional tournament, West Liberty only has three losses, which is the least of any other team in the tournament. For more information on the Hilltoppers during the Atlantic Region Tournament, log onto WLU’s athletic site and be sure to grab the next issue of the Trumpet.
Photo credit: Hilltoppersports.com