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Ursuline grad, Wright State senior was at his best in Youngstown

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Wright State's Mark Hughes is being guarded by YSU's Devin Morgan during last week’s game in Youngstown. Hughes is an Ursuline High School graduate and a senior leader for Wright State. He played what was likely his last game in Youngstown in last week’s win over the Penguins.

YOUNGSTOWN — Mark Hughes saw another familiar face following Thursday’s win over the Youngstown State men’s basketball team.

He had to quickly excuse himself to greet another person, one of many who came to see Hughes’ final time at the Beeghly Center.

His Wright State Raiders beat the Penguins 80-74 and he is 4-0 with his team in Youngstown, located less than a mile from his alma mater, Ursuline High School.

“Coming home, it turns into a home game for us every time,” said Hughes, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound guard.

Wright State (10-10, 4-3 Horizon League) has won three of its last four games with Hughes, who has averaged more than 13 points in the past four games, leading the way.

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Wright State's Mark Hughes shoots a 3-point shot.

Hughes had 16 points, was 5-of-12 from the floor, 3-of-9 from 3-point range and 3-of-3 from the foul line.

“We were just commenting he has his most shot attempts when we come to Youngstown,” Wright State coach Scott Nagy said.

“We were always after him to be more aggressive offensively. I know in high school he scored a lot of points. We really need him to score for us.

“Some of it is we put him on the best offensive player, so he has to spend his energy chasing guys around, guarding people. Playing in front of his family and friends gives him confidence. I wish he’d shoot the ball more other places than just here.”

Hughes guarded arguably one of the best freshmen in the Horizon League in YSU’s Darius Quisenberry, who had 18 points and was 7-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-5 from 3.

This isn’t the first time Hughes saw Quisenberry play. The YSU freshman graduated from Huber Heights Wayne High School, about 20 minutes away from the Wright State campus. The Raiders recruited the first-team, all-Ohio guard.

“I had a chance to meet him because we recruited him a little bit,” Hughes said. “I got to play open gym with him. I thought he was a really good player.

“He committed here (at YSU). Definitely, they got a good player in him. Obviously, they could fill it up in a hurry. He was a tough guard.”

YSU second-year coach Jerrod Calhoun has admiration for Hughes’ play.

“Their senior Mark Hughes, who is a tremendous player, is a guy that I respect,” Calhoun said. “I didn’t have a chance recruit him. I wasn’t the coach here.”

There’s a coach Hughes respects, one that molded him into the player he is today — Ursuline coach Keith Gunther, who he heard loud and clear in the Beeghly Center crowd. So, who is a bigger yeller, Nagy or Gunther?

“Keith Gunther, not even close,” Hughes said. “Coming from high school, he was on me every day. It just made me the player I am. I’m very grateful to have him as a coach.”

Hughes wants to play basketball overseas, hoping to contact an agent after he’s done playing at Wright State.

He stays in contact with LaBrae High School and Davidson College graduate Peyton Aldridge through Snapchat and texts, he said. Aldridge averages more than 13 points and shoots better than 40 percent from 3-point range for Vanoli Cremona in Italy.

Hughes hopes to have the fortune of his friend, Aldridge.

“Hopefully land someplace nice with good weather and good food,” Hughes said.

No matter where he goes, he’ll remember his time at Ursuline and Wright State — wearing his Raiders letterman jacket.

“I always thought I’d look good in green and gold and never had to change,” Hughes said. “I think it worked out well for me.”