McLaughlin, Stonehill Back on National Stage
March 21, 2012
by Rachel Fox
As a kid growing up in Brockton, David McLaughlin would sit in the bleachers in Easton with his father and watch the Stonehill men's basketball team. Now in his ninth season as coach of the Skyhawks, McLaughlin already has set the school record for career wins (177), has guided the team to five Division 2 NCAA tournament appearances, and is in the Elite Eight for the second time.
"I grew up in Brockton, I never pictured I'd be back here. It's kind of neat," McLaughlin, the two-time Northeast-10 Conference coach of the year, said. "The goal was to not have a winning season or two winning seasons, but to create a program (where) you have quality young men."
Stonehill (24-8) earned a trip to Highland Heights, Ky., with a convincing run through the East Regional, which was capped by a 75-70 victory against defending regional champion Bloomfield on March 13. The Skyhawks, unranked in the Div. 2 national poll, will square off against third-ranked West Liberty (32-2) in a national quarterfinal today at noon.
"We're definitely excited," said Andre Tongo, a senior tri-captain and former Acton-Boxboro standout. "We're definitely anxious knowing that we're this close and we're three games away from being national champions. We're going to put everything out there on the line and see what happens."
Tongo is a true example of what hard work can accomplish. He has ascended from a freshman walk-on to a team leader and the Most Outstanding Player at the NE-10 tournament.
"Andre came here, wasn't on scholarship his first two years," McLaughlin said. "He came here as someone who was a freshman, who didn't get on the floor much. He never complained, always worked hard. I bet (last) summer there wasn't a day when he didn't touch a basketball. He was on a mission (in the) fall and really ready to go."
Tongo is second on the team in scoring at 12.7 points per game (junior guard Brian Hamor averages 14.3) and is an efficient shooter from behind the arc (38.6 percent) and at the free throw line (71.6), but he has struggled in the NCAA tournament, averaging 6.0 points in three games and shooting 20 percent (5-of-25) from the floor.
"Every practice, I go in knowing that I'm going to make myself and my teammates better," Tongo said. "With that in mind, I go into every drill wanting to win every drill, and even if I don't win, just by making my teammates better, that feels good."
Tongo and fellow senior captains Patrick Lee and Sean Lowry have won a school-record 91 games, and three more would allow them to go out in grand fashion.
"Most importantly they're high-character guys, they have great work ethics, and they just have great leadership and have grown into their roles," McLaughlin said, "They lead by example, doing things the right way on and off the court."
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