After a rough month of January that saw the Fort Hays State men go 2-7, the Tigers found the resolve to put together a five-game winning streak and get back into the MIAA Tournament picture.
Mark Johnson credits a lot of the perseverance to the leadership of his four-player senior class, which was recognized before Saturday’s senior day contest against Northeastern State.
The four seniors — Aaron Nicholson, Devin Davis Calvin Harrington and Jake Hutchings — have all played key roles for the Tigers this season.
Nicholson, a Derby High School product, is a five-year member of the program. He played in his 100th career game on Saturday and made his 61st start. Nicholson had 737 career points and 184 assists entering the NSU game.
"Tough, hard-nosed kid," Johnson said. "He’s made himself the ability to get on the floor. He’s undersized, he’s not the most athletic guy, but a guy you can count on every day. Really tough. He does everything right out on the floor at all times.
"He’s had a very good career for us and meant a lot."
Davis, a Vallejo, Calif., native, played a key role off the bench last year and became a starter this year. He’s averaging 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in his senior campaign.
"Devin’s an energy guy," Johnson said. "He’s a tough matchup at times. He’s very physical with the ball. Him and all these four guys are just great guys. He’s instant offense and has really made an impact in our program."
Harrington, a Chicago native, joined the program for the 2017-18 season and redshirted last year before taking on a sizable role this season. Johnson said Harrington helped spark the Tigers’ five-game winning streak.
"Calvin’s really kind of helped us turn it around," Johnson said. "I think just inserting him in the lineup and his stability and adding another shooter has really helped us."
Hutchings, a Las Vegas product, transferred to FHSU after playing last season at Chaminade in Hawaii. He’s had a pair of 20-point games this season and sees significant time off the bench.
"Jake’s had some big games for us," Johnson said. "Again, just like the other three, wonderful person. Wish he would’ve been here longer. We’ve only got him for a year. Guy that can shoot the basketball and is today’s really prototypical four-man."