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College Notes: North Ridgeville grad key to West Liberty’s perfect start


Keene Cockburn has enjoyed plenty of success in his three years at West Liberty (W.Va.), but now he’s enjoying it even more as a starter.

After 83 appearances with just four starts in his first 105 games, the North Ridgeville graduate has started all of the undefeated Hilltoppers (13-0) games this season. He’s averaging 23.6 minutes for the No. 1 ranked team in NCAA Division II men’s basketball.

“I’m glad I finally got a shot,” Cockburn said. “I’m playing with more confidence. I felt like I’ve adjusted pretty well. I always felt like I could play; I just finally got the opportunity.”

He’s not just playing more, he’s one of West Liberty’s biggest contributors. The senior is second in scoring and rebounding with 15.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. His 27 blocks lead the team and his 18 steals are fourth. He’s shooting 60 percent from the field, 73.7 percent from the free throw line and 48.5 percent from 3-point range.

He’s notched two double-doubles, scoring 13 points with 14 rebounds on Nov. 23 against Charleston and 16 points and 12 rebounds against Shepherd on Jan. 9. He just missed his third on Jan. 13 against Glenville, scoring 19 points and nine rebounds.

Cockburn has been part of three-straight 30-win seasons, three-straight trips to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight, a combined 99-6 record — 64-2 in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, three-straight WVIAC regular season and tournament titles and trips to the 2011 and ’12 Final Four.

The only thing missing for the Hilltoppers and Cockburn is a national championship.

“We take it one game at a time,” said Cockburn, who is majoring in computer information systems. “We come ready for every game. Yeah, we think about reaching the national championship, but it’s a very tough road.”

Buzzer beaters

  • Sophomore Claude Gray is averaging 12.8 points and 5.4 rebounds, starting all 11 games and averaging 27.5 minutes for Ohio Wesleyan. The Avon graduate scored a career-high 22 points, including the final four to seal a 79-74 win over Marietta on Dec. 29. The Pioneers were ranked 15th by at the time. The win allowed Ohio Wesleyan to break into the latest poll, ranked 22nd.
  • Freshman Alex Harris is averaging 12.3 minutes for Penn State. The Lorain graduate is averaging 3.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and has 11 blocks — third on the team through 15 games. She recorded eight rebounds in a 66-42 win over Ohio State on Jan. 16.
  • Kent State senior Ashley Evans — an Avon graduate — had 12 points and four rebounds in 35 minutes during a 76-59 loss to Ohio University on Jan. 15.
  • Detroit sophomore DaVonna Bradford scored a season-high 12 points and added five rebounds against Cleveland State on Jan. 9. The Lake Ridge Academy graduate is averaging 18.7 minutes in 15 games with eight starts.
  • Ohio Wesleyan sophomore Emily Julius is averaging 8.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in 14 games (all starts) for the Battling Bishops. The Avon graduate had 12 points and six rebounds in an 86-63 win over Allegheny on Jan. 11.
  • Wooster freshman Rachel Collins notched her fourth double-figure point total of the season in a 63-60 win over Oberlin on Jan. 15. The Westlake graduate scored 10 points in 20 minutes off the bench and added four rebounds and two steals.
  • Matt Roman gave Hiram its only two leads of the game against No. 9 Wittenberg on Jan. 11. In the first half the North Olmsted senior hit two free throws for a 10-9 lead. Then late in the game capped Hiram’s rally from 18-points down with a 3-pointer at the 1:57 mark. Hiram ultimately lost 80-79, Roman finished with 10 points and four steals.
  • Junior Emily Taylor scored 14 points and added four assists and four steals, but John Carroll suffered its first loss of the season, 97-85, to Baldwin Wallace. The Elyria Catholic graduate, and Walsh transfer, is averaging 8.6 points and 3.1 assists in 25.3 minutes for Blue Streaks, who entered the week 16th in’s Top 25 poll.
  • Mount Union senior Bridget Lyons tied a season-high six rebounds in a 71-60 win over Marietta on Jan. 15. The Avon Lake graduate also had six rebounds on Dec. 2 in a 74-62 win over Bethany (W.Va.).
  • Rio Grande freshman Sharday Baines — a Lake Ridge Academy graduate — scored a season-high 14 points in a 112-108 overtime win against Shawnee State (Ohio) on Jan. 11.

Dive in

  • Ohio University junior Morgan Srail took first in the 3-meter diving competition with a score of 358.50 against Denison University on Jan. 11. The Avon Lake graduate also took third in the 1-meter competition with a score of 270.53.
  • Purdue junior MacKenzie Tweardy took sixth in the women’s platform competition at the USA Diving Winter National Championships on Dec. 17-22. The Elyria Catholic graduate had a final score of 867.75.
  • Hiram junior Rachel Buckley notched two second-place finishes against Wittenberg on Jan. 11. The Elyria Catholic graduate clocked in at 34.95 in the 50-meter backstroke and 1:16.54 in the 100-meter backstroke.
  • Wooster junior Brian Maddock was part of four first-place finishes in Wooster’s 149-131 win over Ohio Wesleyan on Jan. 11. The Elyria graduate took first in the 100-backstroke (54.09), 200-backstroke (2:01.47), 200 IM (2:01.28) and swam the first leg of the 200-medley relay team that finished in 1:39.67.
  • Mount Union freshman Tyler Moore took third in the 200 IM against Florida Tech on Jan. 5. The Amherst graduate clocked in at 2:04.01.
  • Olmsted Falls graduate Joan Dregalla — a freshman on the Mount Union women’s swim team — was part of the 200-freestyle relay team that took first against Florida Tech, clocking in at 1:43.42.

Decision time

  • Eastern Michigan sophomore Jacob Davis went 1-2 at the Pitt Duals on Jan. 12. The St. Edward graduate and North Ridgeville resident’s only win came against Marcus Cain of Duke, a 10-7 decision.

Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or

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