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Hobbie earns conference Player of the Week honor

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By Dan Chamness

McKendree University freshman Eric Hobbie is hot on Matt Laur's trail.

While Laur, a South Central grad who is currently an assistant coach at Missouri Southern State University, has not been a McKendree basketball player for years. In the last 10 years, no Bearcat player had a more successful freshman season than Laur.

Until now.

So far, Hobbie has scored 202 points in his first dozen college games, an average of 16.8 points per game. Laur, who grew 4 inches during his time at McKendree, averaged 17.4 points per game during his freshman season.

Hobbie might just top that. Hobbie, who has started every game, has drained 75-of-149 field goals and 28-of-39 free throws. He has also hit 24-of-55 from beyond the arc. Laur, in contrast, hit most of his shots within 10 feet of the hoop.

"There are some great similarities, but some big differences, as well," said longtime McKendree coach Harry Statham. "Matt was such a power inside and a great passer. He made everyone around him better. Eric has great mobility and runs the floor well. Both athletes can shoot the ball well."

In addition to his points scored, Hobbie also has 100 rebounds, 20 blocked shots, 16 assists and 15 steals.

And the Bearcats' conference foes have taken notice.

Hobbie was named the American Midwest Conference's Men's Basketball Player of the Week the week of Dec. 4, as he averaged 17.5 points and 12 rebounds in two Bearcat wins.

He scored 26 points and added a career-best 15 rebounds on Nov. 28 in a 66-63 win at Brescia University, giving McKendree its first win in Owensboro since the 2001-02 season. His tip-in during the final minute of play accounted for the game-winning basket.

Overall, Hobbie shot 59 percent from the field (13-of-22), which included a 3-of-7 effort from three-point range. He was also 6-of-7 from the free-throw line and chipped in five assists, three blocked shots and two steals.

Last Tuesday in an 84-70 home victory over Olivet Nazarene University, Hobbie established a new career high with 27 points, scoring 19 consecutive points during one stretch in the first half. Hobbie also matched his career-high with 15 rebounds in the non-conference win.

Hobbie finished with nine points, nine rebounds and three assists in a 99-75 win over Indiana Tech on Dec. 1. This past Saturday's game against Park University was postponed due to inclement weather.

Hobbie and the Bearcats will be back in action Saturday, when they travel to Indiana Tech.

Greenville College's Meredith Banal and Susan Githinji, graduates of Vandalia and South Central, respectively, scored in double figures in GC's 64-24 win over Lincoln Christian College recently.

Banal, who hit 3-of-8 field goals and 4-of-5 free throws, also had six rebounds. Banal had one trey. Githinji played only 12 minutes, but she scored 10 points on 3-of-5 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the charity stripe.

It was not Banal's only double figure game this week. Banal scored a team-high 20 points in Greenville's 51-44 triumph over Westminster College. She also had six steals and five rebounds, both team-high stats. Banal hit 7-of-18 field goals and 4-of-6 free throws. Banal had two treys. Greenville is 4-4 overall.

Vanderbilt University finished second in the Capital City Classic hosted by Jackson State University. Vandalia grad Josie Earnest, a Vandy sophomore, rolled her best game in Vanderbilt's 1,142-892 win over Louisiana Tech. She finished with a 257-pin count, and finished fifth overall in the tournament.

In the title game, the University of Nebraska defeated Vanderbilt, 934-903.

MacMurray College's Brianna Taylor tallied six points as MacMurray dropped a 99-55 decision to Illinois Wesleyan University. Taylor played 25 minutes in the contest. MacMurray is 1-3. ...

The Blackburn College Beavers took it on the chin twice last week. They were downed by Maryville University (67-56) and Eureka College (63-50). Former Vandalia players Blake Doehring and Ryan Smith played in both games for Blackburn. Doehring had three points, while Smith had two points and seven boards against Maryville. Doehring tallied eight points, while Smith finished with two points and two rebounds in the loss to Eureka. Blackburn is 1-5 overall and 0-2 in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Names, Names, Names. I am looking for names. Though high school spring sports are about 3 1/2 months away, college baseball and softball start as early as Feb. 1. Indoor track will start the second week of January. If anyone wants to add a name to my growing list, please email me Dan62293@cs.com. Please put "Leader-Union" in the subject line. I will need the name of the athlete, the former high school, the college/university they are attending and, of course, the sport they are playing.