By Cole Deutschendorf
Most people know the planets in our solar system. There’s Mercury, Venus, Earth of course. There’s Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. And then there’s whatever planet Angelo Stuart has been on from the offensive side throughout the season for the Hutchinson Comunity College men’s basketball team.
Stuart poured in 21 points in Hutch’s come-from-behind 76-75 win against Cowley on Wednesday at the Sports Arena, to go along with seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
The Blue Dragons struggled in the first half, shooting less than 40% from the field and a paltry 25% from 3-point range. Then, to open the second half, HutchCC went on a 13-1 run, of which Stuart had four points, to reclaim the lead and gain momentum back to their side.
The team has had its share of adversity this season, having to battle back from deficits multiple times this year. Despite that, Stuart said that he and the team still feel comfortable when facing what appears to be a tough task.
“We never feel like we’re out of a game,” Stuart said. “If we’re down at halftime, we don’t get down on ourselves. Whether we’re up 30, or down 30, we’re going to continue to play with a motor, because we don’t play against the scoreboard.”
Stuart has taken a scoring role thus far into the season, averaging 21 points per game, which leads the team. Despite that, he wants to do whatever he has to do to help his team.
“I approach each game the same. I want to do whatever it is that I have to do to help the team win,” Stuart said. “If that means scoring, I’ll score. If that means rebounding, I’ll rebound. If that means defense, I’ll play defense.”
It is that mentality that has helped propel the Blue Dragons to an 11-0 record to start the season, despite several injuries to contributing players.
Blue Dragons coach Tommy DeSalme recognizes how great of an offensive player Stuart is. “He’s an elite scorer,” he said. “He’s a consistent scorer, night in, night out. When you have a guy like that, a guy you can hang your hat on, it makes my job a lot easier.”
Stuart thinks that some of the early trials that the team has faced will help them in the long run. “Facing adversity is the best thing for us, because it’s going to be tough come playoff time,” Stuart said.
There is validity in Stuart’s statement, as the Jayhawk Conference has multiple teams ranked in the top 25 in the NJCAA Division 1.
It will be a tough road for the Blue Dragons, but with a player like Stuart at the helm of the offense, the sky – or, more accurately, outer space – is the limit.