Returning Mountie Wade making a big difference

CRESSON – While fellow Mount Aloysius College men’s basketball upperclassmen Nolan Doyle and Tanner Thomas have done the traditional four-year athletic career routes, Arin Wade has taken a unique route as he has returned to the Mounties for his final two seasons.

Wade, who began his basketball career at Mount Aloysius during his freshman season, initially left the school for two years to continue his academic and basketball career in Florida. His decision to return to Mount Aloysius has benefitted both Wade and the Mountie men’s basketball team, currently in the middle of the conference playoff race in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference.

Wade, an Edgewater, Md., native and graduate of South River High School, is currently the Mounties’ second-leading scorer averaging 15.3 points per game. He is part of a balanced attack for coach Lance Loya that also features Thomas on the inside, sharpshooting junior guard Dillon Bender and Doyle, the point guard and main distributor who averages a little more than four assists per game.

Wade, a redshirt junior majoring in professional studies, has caused opposing teams matchup problems throughout the season due to his inside-out game. While he is a creative and strong slashing forward, Wade can also shoot from distance as evidenced by his 31-for-76 clip this season from behind the arc. His 40.8 percent accuracy from 3-point territory ranks him seventh in the conference, and his 15.3 points per game average is ranked eighth among all conference players.

In a little more than 29 minutes per game, Wade has been the Mounties’ most consistent scoring threat along with Thomas. He has recorded double-figure scoring outputs in all but three games. In the Mounties’ last seven games, Wade has scored between 11 and 22 points in every contest.

“After sitting out an entire season, I expected it to take awhile for Arin to get back in the flow of things. But that really hasn’t been the case at all. He’s been arguably our most consistent player all season,” Loya said.

After scoring a combined 33 points in losses at Franciscan and Hilbert, Wade helped get Mount Aloysius get back on track with 15 points in a 74-57 victory over La Roche College last Wednesday.

The Mounties, who currently sit at 5-7 in conference play, seem to be in a two-way battle with D’Youville for the final playoff spot in the AMCC. Mount Aloysius already notched a 76-70 victory over the Spartans on Jan. 10, and the two teams meet again on Feb. 7 in Buffalo for the rematch.

“We knew coming into this year that the odds were stacked against us in terms of starting the season off with such a young and inexperienced roster,” Loya said. “However, we also knew how skilled those new players were and that we had the potential to grow and become a competitive force by the end of the season. And that is exactly where we are right now.”

With Wade consistently producing on the scoring charts, the Mounties will look to return to the playoffs after narrowly missing a berth by one game during the 2013-2014 season.

“I think for Arin, Tanner and Nolan to get this team into the postseason is a tremendous accomplishment, and a testimony to their leadership,” Loya said.

Volunteering at elementary school

When budget cuts struck the Central Cambria School District, Jackson Elementary was forced to cancel its popular after-school intramural program. But Jackson principal Tricia Murin was not ready to concede the loss of the program and began to search for alternative solutions.

Murin reached out to Loya and asked if he would consider volunteering to run a week-long after-school basketball program for their fourth and fifth graders.

In early January, Loya took the Mount Aloysius men’s basketball team to the elementary school. For an entire week, the Mountie men took an hour teaching the aspiring youngsters basketball skills, after school, as well as lessons on sportsmanship and teamwork.

The elementary students were organized into teams, and a regular game was scheduled on the last day of the week, with the Mount Aloysius players serving as coaches and referees. However, a snow storm forced the school to close that day, and the game was initially cancelled.

Murin said the students loved the afterschool program and were extremely disappointed that their game had to be cancelled. Once again, she reached out to Loya to see if the team would consider coming back for a makeup date.

Last week, the Mount Aloysius men’s basketball team postponed its own team practice for the day and, instead, returned to Jackson Elementary to organize the makeup game.