Written by Mike Haas CMC '79
22nd-Consecutive Winning Season Highlights 2018-19 Season
Stags continue as winningest SCIAC team
In a season that began with the team's third-ever trip to Chicago, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags came away with another record-setting year. What took place during the opening weekend at the University of Chicago represented what would be the ups and downs of the season. At the end of the campaign, the Stags finished second in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC).
Since 2000, the CMS Stags have finished first or second 15 times out of the 19 SCIAC seasons, including 10 championships. In addition, CMS is the only member of the conference to have qualified for the SCIAC Postseason Tournament every year since it started in 2008. Indeed, since the Stags joined the SCIAC in 1959-60, no other conference opponent has won more games (SCIAC or overall) than CMS. And in 2018-19, the Stags broke their own record by winning 19 games and securing their 22nd consecutive winning season which again is something no other SCIAC team has done over the past 60 seasons.
This year's version of Stags Basketball had three seniors who had three different, but similar paths. Mark Sui (Sr., CMC, Fremont), Nicolas Segura Dobjanschi (Sr., CMC, McLean, VA) and Ryan Kusch (Sr., HMC, Seal Beach) led the team throughout 2019. These are three players who forged their way through their careers from limited playing time to being key performers as seniors.
In addition, there were six juniors, two sophomores, and six freshmen who made up the remainder of the 2018-19 team's roster. Together with the senior leadership, the team flourished going 19-7 and 13-3 in conference play.
Mark Sui (Sr., CMC, Fremont) earned four letters and was team captain this year. He played point guard and raised himself to a starting position his final season with the Stags. He made the SCIAC All-Academic Team.
Nicolas Segura Dobjanschi (Sr., CMC, McLean, VA) played three years for CMS after taking off a year in between his first and second seasons as a Stag. When he returned, he played a reserve role as a junior but worked himself back to the starting lineup as a senior and made first-team All-SCIAC. He led the team in scoring (16 ppg) and rebounding (7.5 rpg).
Miles President (Jr., HMC, Chino Hills) is a three-year letter winner and three-year starter at the small forward position. He was a top offensive player (11.3 ppg, 2.0 apg) and excellent defender in earning second-team All-SCIAC accolades. He also made the SCIAC All-Academic Team.
Jeremy Horn (Jr., CMC, Wynnewood, PA) started at the post spot while earning his third letter. He started all 26 games and averaged 10.3 points and 7.4 rebounds.
Mitchell Kirsch (So., CMC, Atkinson, NH) started all 26 games for the Stags during his sophomore campaign and led the team with 73 assists and had a 2-1 assist to turnover ratio. Kirsch made the SCIAC All-Academic Team.
Ryan Kusch (Sr., HMC, Seal Beach) was the third member of the senior class. Another 4-year letter winner and team captain, Kusch was a natural team leader who played an increased reserve role each year of his career. Maxwell Kirsch (Jr., CMC, Atkinson, NH) returned for his third year and once again was the first or second player off the bench and could be counted on to shoot from beyond the 3-point arc. Kirsch made the SCIAC All-Academic Team. JD Levine (Jr., CMC, New York, NY) played an increasing role as the back-up point guard as the season rolled on. His defense, quickness, and high percentage 3-point shooting strengthened the CMS attack from the backcourt.
Kele Mkpado (Jr., CMC, Santa Barbara) came off the bench as the small forward – and was another Stag player who could score inside and outside and had a defensive presence as well. George Walker (Jr., CMC, Washington, D.C.) came off the bench in all 26 games and provided a presence defensively, crashed the boards and could score in the paint. He earned SCIAC All-Academic team honors as a junior. Chukwueloka Oti (So., CMC, Los Angeles), the team's other sophomore, also honed his skills and proved to be a key man at the wing spot in CMS' game plan off the bench. Carter Ingersoll (Fr., CMC, Woodstock, GA) earned SCIAC All-Academic Team accolades as a freshman. A late-season injury shortened his first season with CMS.
Charles Meng (Fr., HMC, Cupertino) was the team's third point guard and proved himself early in the season as another 3-point shooter and defensive specialist. TJ Askew (Fr., CMC, Papua New Guinea) used his height to his advantage at the forward position and appeared in 16 games for the Stags. Alec Sinek (Fr., CMC, Fullerton) was another of the Stags' rich pool of guards who could be counted on to run the CMS offense. Luke Webb (Fr., CMC, West Hills) had his first season cut short by an early season injury, but still was a SCIAC All-Academic Team selection. Sam Johnson (Fr., CMC, Spring Lake, MI), the final freshman to join the Stags in 2018-19, matured as the year progressed and likewise played a large role in the team's progress over the course of the season as another of the talented post players. Johnson was also a SCIAC All-Academic Team honoree.
The season started in Chicago against University of Chicago at the Midway Classic. It was a low scoring affair that saw the Stags on the short end of the 51-43 verdict. But the next afternoon against preseason seventh-ranked Springfield (Mass.) College, the offense awoke as the Stags overwhelmed the Pride by a final score of 85-64. This would become a trademark of the team, surprising opponents with a strong offense.
When the team returned to action at the Wells Classic, after a loss to Northwest Conference rival Whitman College, the team continued its winning ways with a victory over Willamette 70-43. The Wells Classic was created and then named in memory of former Stag head coach and athletic director David Wells, who envisioned this Division III tournament for strong academic institutions with top basketball programs.
The remainder of the first semester saw wins over West Coast Baptist 96-51, UC Santa Cruz 73-58, Miramar University 77-63 and Westmont 88-69.
When winter break came to an end, the SCIAC season picked up. There were road wins over Redlands, Caltech, Occidental, and La Verne followed by home wins over Cal Lutheran and Whittier. Then it was back on the road for a win at Chapman. CMS ended January with a home win over Redlands. February got off to a tough start with a 76-73 loss at Whittier, but the Stags then rattled off five-straight SCIAC wins with victories over Caltech, La Verne, Occidental, Cal Lutheran and Chapman to close out the regular season.
The second-place finish earned CMS a home game in the SCIAC Tournament where a dramatic second half comeback ended with a heartbreaking 64-62 overtime loss to Occidental in the SCIAC semifinals.
At the team's annual banquet, the players chose their peers for the team awards. Miles President was the team's best defensive player while George Walker was chosen the Most Improved Player. Nicolas Segura Dobjanschi was the team's Most Valuable Player while Walker also was the winner of the Kampe Hustle Award. The Kampe Hustle Award is the award named in memory of former Stags All-Conference player Chris Kampe who passed away from cancer, but who inspired his teammates to play with the highest level of determination and exemplary effort. The final team award passed out this year was the Bob Sunshine captains award given to Ryan Kusch, Mark Sui, and Maxwell Kirsch. The award was renamed in honor of former Stags captain Bob Sunshine who graduated in 1961 and who was the program's first captain back in 1958-59. It was a poignant presentation this year as Bob passed away in 2018 just before the season started.
And now it is time to look forward to 2019-20 for another year of exciting Stags Basketball. The 2019-20 season will include a trip back to Walla Walla, Washington and Whitman College where CMS won NCAA playoff games in 2017 and 2018, for a season-opening tournament (Nov. 8-9). There will be the annual Wells Classic (Nov. 29-30) with Lewis & Clark and Pacific (Ore.) coming to Claremont and Roberts Pavilion. And of course, the always exciting SCIAC season will start up on Dec. 4 with the Sixth Street Rivalry. The main portion of the SCIAC schedule begins in January at home against Whittier College (Jan. 4).
As always, we thank you for your support of CMS Stags Basketball and remind you that the latest news, statistics and schedule information can be found on the Stags Basketball webpage. Fans can watch all home games and many of our away games live online via our webpage.