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Men’s basketball wins first Don Lane Classic

The championship of the inaugural Don Lane Classic was a highlight of men’s basketball as the Pioneers finished with an 18-9 record after ending their season in the semi-final game of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament.

Named for Transylvania’s all-time winningest men’s basketball coach, the Don Lane Classic honors the father of head coach Brian Lane ‘90. When he retired from coaching in 2001, Hall of Fame coach Don Lane had compiled 509 victories during his 26 seasons at Transylvania.

Brandon rashAt the end of the 2010-11 season, Brian Lane’s win total of 168 moved him ahead of Lee Rose ’58 (160 wins) and into third place among Transylvania coaches, behind his father and C. M. Newton, in second place with 176 victories.

The Pioneers dispatched Millikin University 82-37 in the opening game of the Classic, then defeated Westminster College 70-57 for the title. Sophomore guard Brandon Rash (left) was tournament Most Valuable Player after a nine-for-13 shooting night and 21 points in the final.

Transylvania sported a 9-2 record in early January after knocking off then-No. 24 Carthage University 75-66 in the final non-conference game of the season. Earlier, the Pioneers got a good road win over Centre College 56-51.

Transylvania was inconsistent during league play, sporting a 6-1 streak at one point before losing to Manchester College 79-62 in the HCAC regular-season finale. That left the Pioneers with an 11-7 league record, good for fourth place.

“Injuries made this year one of the most unusual since I’ve been coaching,” said Lane. “Only four players appeared in all 27 games. Our starting point guard, first-year student Tate Cox, missed half the season with a broken hand.”

Transylvania got by Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology 54-49 in the opener of the conference tournament, held at Manchester, then fell again to the host team in the semi-finals by 68-65. The Pioneers held an 11-point lead in the first half against the Spartans, but lost in the final moments as Manchester hit key free throws. Finally rounding into form after his injury, Cox had a brilliant night with 24 points, including seven of nine from three-point range, and was named to the All-HCAC tournament team.

Rash finished the season as Transylvania’s leading scorer with an 11.9 average, was second in rebounding with 4.7 a game, and shot 52 percent from the field, including 42 percent from the three-point line. His exploits earned him a place on the All-HCAC first team.

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