Lions Players, Coach Earn Conference Accolades

 Two UAFS men’s basketball players and coach Josh Newman have earned conference honors for their performances during the recently-completed Heartland Conference regular season.

     Senior guard Jake Toupal was named First Team All-Conference and Player of the Year. Freshman guard Seth Youngblood was named Second Team All-Conference and Freshman of the Year. Newman was named Coach of the Year.

     Toupal, a native of Broken Arrow, Okla., averaged a team-high 14.5 points per game while shooting 42 percent from the field (106 for 251), 40 percent from 3-point range (58 for 144) and 86 percent from the free-throw line (49 for 57). He also averaged 3.7 rebounds per game.

     He led the team with 20 steals and was fourth on the team with 41 assists. He was named Heartland Conference Player of the Week following his performance in the regular-season finale against Rogers State, during which he scored the game-winning points on his way to tying a career-high with 26 points.

     Toupal led the conference in free-throw shooting percentage.

     Youngblood, a native of Roland, Okla., averaged a team-high 14.5 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field (122 for 244), 44 percent from 3-point range (72 for 163) and 79 percent from the free-throw line (60 for 76). He also averaged 2.3 rebounds per game. He was third on the team with 53 assists and second on the team with 14 steals.

     Youngblood was third in the conference in 3-point shooting percentage.

     “It’s great that the league recognized Jake and Seth’s contribution to this year’s team as well as their individual talents,” Newman said. “Jake has had an outstanding four-year career at UAFS, and what better way to end the regular season than as the Heartland Conference Player of the Year and conference champion. Seth has had an exceptional year and has established himself as one of the top guards in the league.”

     Newman guided the Lions to a 21-5 overall record and a 14-4 conference record during the regular season. UAFS won the outright conference title for the second consecutive season and earned the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament for the second year in a row.

     The Lions were ranked as high as No. 16 in the NABC/Division II Coaches Top 25 and are currently ranked No. 5 in the NCAA South Central Region rankings. The Lions reached the 20-win mark for the first time since becoming members of Division II five seasons ago.

     “Being named Coach of the Year is a great honor,” Newman said. “I want to thank my staff and players for all of their hard work and commitment to our program. This team, from managers to players to assistant coaches, has worked extremely hard. This award is really about them and what they have accomplished.”

     The Heartland Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament will begin at the Stubblefield Center on Friday with two opening-round games. The No. 1 seed Lions will play the No. 4 seed University of Texas of the Permian Basin Falcons at 5:30 p.m., and the No. 2 seed Texas A&M International Dustdevils will play the No. 3 seed St. Mary’s Rattlers at 7:30 p.m. The championship game will be at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

 

ALL-HEARTLAND MEN'S BASKETBALL

FIRST TEAM

Jake Toupal, UAFS

Matthew Culliver, Jr., TAMIU

Dwayne Soders, UTPB

Eli Baker, Lubbock Christian

Kendre Talley, OC

SECOND TEAM

Damion Hooks, Rogers State

Marvin Binney, St. Mary’s

Jordan Clark, TAMIU

Jonathan Perry, DBU

Seth Youngblood, UAFS

HONORABLE MENTION

Alfred Perez, McMurry

Jeremy Espinoza, Newman

Marvin Whitt, St. Mary’s

Robinson Odoch Opong, Rogers State

James Stukes, St. Edward’s

Anthony Brancato, Lubbock

Phadarius Taylor, UTPB

Bill Lee, OPSU

INDIVIDUAL AWARDS

Player of the Year

Jake Toupal, UAFS

Newcomer of the Year

Marvin Binney, St. Mary’s

Defensive Player of the Year

Jordan Clark, Texas A&M International

Freshman of the Year

Seth Youngblood, UAFS

Coach of the Year

Josh Newman, UAFS

Five Star: 
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