WALLA WALLA, Wash. Ė Two members of the Whitman College menís basketball team have earned post-season all-conference honors.
Matt Kelly, a 6-foot-2 junior guard from Walla Walla, Wash., and Kyle Born, a 6-foot-6 sophomore forward from Stanwood, Wash., both received All-Northwest Conference Honorable Mention recognition.
Kelly, who played his first two seasons at Walla Walla Community College, led Whitman in scoring this season, averaging 16.2 points per game. He was the fifth-leading scorer in the NWC.
"As a community college transfer, Matt had a very productive first season at Whitman," coach Skip Molitor said. "He had some outstanding scoring nights for us. He's one of the most exciting players to watch in our conference, especially when he's in the open court."
Kelly was Whitman's leading scorer in 11 games, scoring 19 or more points ten times. He tallied a season-high 26 points againt Lewis & Clark, making six of 10 three-point shots while grabbing four rebounds and handing out four assists.
"What I enjoyed most was seeing Matt drive into the key, stop and rise for a jumper," Molitor said. "There also were many times when Matt elevated in the key, drew the defense and dumped off passes that turned into easy baskets for our post players. Matt can score, but he's also an unselfish player with good passing ability."
Kelly also took better care of the ball as the season progressed, Molitor said. "In conference games, Matt finished among the top 10 players in the league in assist-to-turnover ratio. That came after he struggled a little bit with turnovers in the early, non-league games. He worked at it, kept getting better and learned to play within himself."
Born, who battled back problems late in the season, led Whitman in rebounding, averaging 8.0 rebounds per game, while scoring 11.5 points per outing. He led the NWC in field goal percentage, making 62.6 percent of his shots from the floor, which ranked him No. 13 nationally in the latest NCAA Div. III statistics release.
"To start the season, I felt Kyle was ready to make some special accomplishments as a sophomore," Molitor said. "When he was healthy this winter, he exceeded what I initially thought were high expectations. He showed that he's very capable of being one of the best post players in our conference. Kyle has a tremendous work ethic, and it's a pleasure for me as a coach to see Kyle get the recognition he deserves."
Born hit his stride midway through the conference season, averaging 20.8 points and 11.8 rebounds during one four-game stretch in which he made 35 of 44 shots from the floor, a sparkling 79.5 percent shooting percentage. He scored 25 points in two of those games, making 22 of 25 shots from the floor, including all six of his three-point shots.
"That was one of the best two weeks of post play I've seen in this conference," Molitor said. "Unfortunately, those two weeks were followed by three weeks of back spasms for Kyle. But there's no question he sent a clear message as to the impact he will have over the next two seasons."
Born had five double-doubles during the season, including a 34-point, 16-rebound effort against the University of Redlands. He combined 25 points with a season-high 17 rebounds in a victory over Willamette. "I don't think a 20-rebound game is too far down the road in Kyle's future," Molitor said.
Dave Holden, Whitman Sports Information,
(509) 527-5902; email@example.com