Basketball players Abbey Hengesbach, Aaron Larson and Zach Wagner are the only current Tiger players with 1,000 career points on the teams.
Number 22 on the Women’s Basketball team, Abbey Hengesbach has accomplished a lot throughout her basketball career. Not just a skilled player, Head Coach Lauren Stamatis also described her as “very humble” and “a lot of fun.”
A transfer from Michigan, Hengesbach has only been with the ONU women’s basketball team for two seasons. Yet, she has managed to accomplish a lot in her short time on the team, including scoring 1,000 points in her Olivet career and 2,000 points in her entire college basketball career.
Hengesbach’s 1,000 ONU career point was scored during the game against Holy Cross College last Wednesday, Jan. 20. The 25 Tiger to reach the career milestone.
However, before that milestone was achieved, Hengesbach also made her 2,000 career point in the Jan. 13 game against University of St. Francis. She said the game was “huge. They [USF] had just beat the number one team the game before.”
Coming into the game, the Tigers were ranked number 10, compared to USF’s number two rank. The Tigers managed an upset win against USF, bringing their consecutive wins up to seven. Alongside the win, Hengesbach’s brief moment of glory came in the third quarter, when she completed a layup that brought her to 2,000 points even and ended the game with 2,014 total.
However, Hengesbach didn’t know about her record until after the game, when her mother sent her a video of her 2,000 point with her sister yelling in the background.
Before college, Hengesbach had been playing basketball since she was very young, following in her family’s footsteps. Hengesbach’s father was a “huge basketball player in college,” and her older sister, by four years, also played.
Jess Learned is a freshman on the basketball team and was also Hengesbach’s workout partner during the summer. While talking about Hengesbach, Learned said that it’s “an amazing honor to be her teammate; she’s always smiling and is a very good encourager.”
Being injured early on in the season has opened Hengesbach’s eyes to another passion of hers: coaching. “That time was good for me to sit back and be a better teammate, and help coach the girls in ways that I couldn’t while I’m on the floor,” she said.
Aaron Larson and Zach Wagner, the milestone achievers from the men’s team, have both been playing for ONU since their freshman years.
Head Coach of the men’s team Ralph Hodge describes the two players as being “a pleasure to coach.”
Aaron Larson, a senior with a sports management major, describes getting his 1,000 career point as a “great feeling.” Scoring it against Southern Illinois University his junior year, Larson described himself as simply “blessed to have the teammates and coaches” that he has had in his four years at Olivet. He was the 39 Tiger in the men’s basketball program to achieve this career milestone.
Head Coach Ralph Hodge, on the other hand, described Larson differently. Hodge said Larson was one of those players that “comes along not very often” and is “right at the top in every way you want as a player.”
Number 24 on the team, Larson is also on his way to passing another career landmark: the 2000-point mile- stone. As of Jan. 21, Larson was at 1878 career points, making him sixth all-time on the Tigers’ all-time scoring list.
At the beginning of the season, Larson said “it would be awesome” to reach 2000 points and is “definitely a goal.” However, Larson also added that his main goal is the same as the team’s: a championship.
Zach Wagner, another senior on the basketball team, also joined the 1,000-point club during the Jan. 16 game against Trinity International University. Going into the game, Wagner only needed 18 more points in order to achieve 1,000 points for his career. A close game, the number 14 ranked Tigers lost against the Trojans, by one point. The Tiger’s final points of the game belonged to Wagner with his 17th and 18th points of the game bringing him up to an even 1,000 points overall.
The 1,000 total points aren’t the only thing noteworthy about Wagner. “The significant thing about him [reaching 1,000 points] is that he plays
postman,” Hodge says. Postmen are very dependent on the other players, and opportunities tend to be a bit less, but Wagner has “made good use of those opportunities,” Hodge says.
About his two players, Coach Hodge says, “both are very valuable to the team; Zach gives inside presence. Aaron is inside but also perimeter presence. That helps the whole operation.”
Hodge also commented that he thought it’s “a great thing for these two guys to be recognized for their accomplishments; it’s not easy to achieve. It’s a lot of hard work—being injury free, and getting it done.”