The Hawks’ best season in two decades came to a heartbreaking end last Saturday against Plattsburgh State (20-4 overall, 14-3 in conference). Battling for their first postseason appearance since 2012 after a close loss to the State University of New York at Potsdam the night before, the Hawks ultimately fell to the already clinched second seed in the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) 80-73.
New Paltz did not go down without a fight, as the game saw nine lead changes and eight tied scores in a physical match with five technicals and 47 fouls, seven of which were called on the Hawks in the first two minutes of the second half. Leading scorer and captain Tristan Wissemann was given his fourth and fifth fouls only a minute into the second half.
Prior to the game, the Hawks honored their three seniors: fourth-year captains Cory Garcia and Paddy Parr and fourth-year guard Nick Paquette. Garcia, Parr and Paquette were recognized for their accomplishments and contributions as they met their families at half court in a brief ceremony before the match.
In his final game, Garcia played all 40 minutes and scored a career-high 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field, while adding team-high’s with eight rebounds and five steals, and tossed in two assists. Garcia played a total of 91 games with 73 starts and 2,334 total minutes for the Hawks over four years. He scored 531 points, grabbed 347 rebounds and 145 steals.
Garcia is fourth on the record board for career assists with 304. He is also tied for most assists in a single game along with Oppong Agyemang (’09) with 16 against SUNY Potsdam two years ago and holds the record for eighth-most assists in a single season with 133 during the 2016-17 season. He was also named team MVP his sophomore year.
“Being able to compete in meaningful games at the end of the year was something I wasn’t a part of until this year,” Garcia said. “The program is heading in the right direction and this team will be in the playoffs in the upcoming years. It’ll be nice to look back and know that the seniors had a part in the process and I can’t wait to come back and support as alumni.”
Paquette and Parr finished their careers with phenomenal performances as well. Parr finished with a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists, also grabbing four rebounds in 23 minutes. Paquette scored 10 points, along with two assists in 26 minutes. First-year forward Isiah Bien-Aise also scored 17 points off the bench and grabbed eight rebounds and a steal.
Parr played all 50 games in his two-year career for the Hawks and started in 26 of them for a total of 1,015 minutes. He scored 208 points, tossed in 137 assists and grabbed 252 rebounds and 41 steals.
“As a senior captain, I knew that the culture had to change before we would start winning, and it did,” Parr said. “The group we had this year was unselfish, eager to learn and hungry to win no matter whose night it was. I am proud to be a part of the team that began the turnaround for New Paltz basketball.”
Paquette appeared in 92 games for the Hawks, earning 49 starts and 2,000 total minutes. He scored 743 points and grabbed 38 steals. Paquette is also tied for second most three-point field goals in a single game at seven on two separate outings in 2016 and 2017 and holds the record for percentage of three-point field goals made in a single season with 48.9 (45-of-92) his freshman year. Last year, he was named a SUNYAC Award of Valor recipient and the SUNY New Paltz Heinz Ahlmeyer Jr. Award recipient, the department’s highest honor.
“The success we’ve had this year has been better than my first three years combined, and I truly believe the program can continue this trend of winning for many more years to come,” Paquette said. “I’m proud to say I was a huge part of this change of culture and a part of the first winning season in 20 years. I will always be proud to be a Hawk.”
Despite not qualifying for the SUNYAC tournament, the Hawks finished with an overall record of 14-11 and 9-9 in the SUNYAC, their first winning record since the 1998-99 season. Hawks head coach Keith Kenney said that although they missed playoffs by a hair, he is proud of the team’s accomplishments and overall very good season.
“If coaches and players continue to work hard and not be complacent then our goal is to compete every year for a conference title,” Kenney said.