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Hard work pays off for Quisenberry

YOUNGSTOWN — Darius Quisenberry hears the alarm reverberating in his room. The Youngstown State University 6-foot-1 sophomore guard would rather hit the snooze button, but he doesn’t. The Springfield, Ohio, native has more important things to do.

It’s late in the evening. The bouncing basketball is all that he hears around the Beeghly Center. Relaxing would be so much better at this hour, but that’s not for Quisenberry.

He was a second-team all-Horizon League player last season, averaging 16.9 points. This season Quisenberry averages in the top five in the league in assists (4.2), free-throw percentage (78.7), field-goal percentage (42.4) and steals (1.5) and on Monday was named to the all-conference first team.

He scored in double figures 25 times and scored at least 20 points 10 times this season. His 524 points rank ninth on the YSU Division I single-season chart, and his career-high 41 points against Wright State on Feb. 20 rank sixth on the YSU Division I single-game scoring list.

Former YSU and current professional player Kendrick Perry was the last Penguins sophomore to make an all-league first team.

“All my hard work, those late nights, those early mornings,” said Quisenberry, whose fifth-seeded Penguins (17-14, 10-8 Horizon League) host eighth-seeded Milwaukee (12-18, 7-11) in a first-round Horizon League game tonight at 7.

“Those times when you didn’t feel like getting up at all, but you rolled out of bed and made sure you did get a workout in the morning. It’s cool to see your hard work pay off.

“We’re not done yet. We have a tournament run to finish. You really can’t be satisfied. I have to live in the day, live in the moment. I’m happy with first team, but I’m not satisfied.”

Junior Garrett Covington, a 6-5 guard from Carmel, Indiana, was named to the all-defensive team for the second straight year.

Covington didn’t play against Milwaukee the first time YSU played the Panthers in late January — a YSU loss in overtime.

He appreciates the honor. Like Quisenberry, he’s focused on a Horizon League title. It starts with defense.

“I take a lot of pride, a lot of accountability to stop their best players,” Covington said. “It’s pretty cool night in, night out in the Horizon League there are other team’s guards, like high-level scorers who can really score the ball. I take that challenge. I accept my role. I do the best that I can and play as hard as I can.”

Devin Morgan, a 5-10 guard from Chester, Virginia, was named sixth person of the year in the league.

“A lot of people just see what goes on the court,” Morgan said. “I put a lot of work in my game in all aspects. I’m ready to be able to do what I need to do. I think my team, shooting the ball, that’s what my team needs me to do. They need me to make open shots. They need me to make 3s. That’s what I go out there and do. When they need any kind of scoring, any kind of leadership other than that, I’m there for them as well.”

One name missing on the league postseason honors was Naz Bohannon, a 6-6 junior forward from Lorain. He averages 12.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, shooting 53.9 percent from the floor.

“The one I was really disappointed with was Naz Bohannon,” YSU coach Jerrod Calhoun said. “He’s had a tremendous year. As I explained to our guys, those awards are nice, but it’s a team game. At the end of the day, those awards are based on people’s opinions. My opinion is not going to change. I thought Naz deserved to be all-league. I’m certainly happy for my other three guys.”

YSU beat Milwaukee on the road Saturday, 73-69. The Penguins usually win when they hold opponents to 70 points or fewer.

“You have to set the tone defensively,” Calhoun said. “If we do that, then we give ourselves a chance. We have to be better with our fouling. Our ball-screen defense has to be really good. They’re one of the teams that sits the most. They have two dynamic guard in Te’Jon Lucas and Darius Roy. DeAndre Abram has been a really big problem for us. It’s kind of unique. You’re playing them within a three-day span. You can’t worry about those things.”

YSU is 12-3 at home. The Penguins football team is going to be at the game, as well as the Horizon League champion men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams which are to be honored tonight.

“I hope the city comes up,” Calhoun said. “We’re going to do everything in our power to make them proud.”

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