Sloper’s chance pays off

Ryan Sloper’s (Hylton ’99) college basketball future was up in the air. For a moment anyway.

He had received interest from some Division III schools. There was also a possibility of walking on to a Division I program or just going to college strictly as a student.

Then he visited Randolph-Macon College in Ashland and something clicked. He saw a program with a promising future and it was one he wanted to be a part of.

“I love the game and I kept thinking, ‘what would happen if I didn’t take this chance?’ ” Sloper said. “I didn’t want to look back and see that I had that chance and didn’t take it.”

Nice foresight since Sloper’s final year of college basketball has become a memorable one.

As the Yellow Jackets’ “sixth starter” and one of their four team captains, Sloper has come off the bench to play a vital role in Randolph-Macon’s rise to No. 1 in Division III. The 6-foot senior guard averages 3.3 points in 14.4 minutes of action per game for a team that will begin its hunt for a national title Saturday. The Yellow Jackets (27-1) will host the winner of last night’s Mary Washington-Alvernia College game at 7 p.m. in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.

“He could easily start for us as good a team as this is,” Yellow Jackets’ head coach Mike Rhoades said. “He’s got such incredible energy. He’s been through the battles, through the war. In my book, we’ve got six starters.”

Rhoades said Sloper is a better fit as a reserve.

“Some teams go to their subs and lose a little bit, but Ryan gives us something,” Rhoades said. “He plays so darn hard. He’s a threat on both ends. He’s a smart basketball player.”

That’s been Sloper’s role from day one and he’s fine with it.

“When I came here as a freshman, there were 11 other freshmen and now we’re down to the four of us,” Sloper said. “The three others do start, but I feel more comfortable. It’s easier for me because I can see what I need to bring to the court.”

Rhoades said Sloper had a strong performance in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, scoring 10 points in a 71-53 win over Washington & Lee and playing superb defense through the three tournament games.

“He’s the kind of kid you could count on forever,” Rhoades said.

Matt Hilleary (Seton ’99) was named the Capital Athletic Conference Player of the Year for the second straight season.

A senior at Catholic University, Hilleary leads the Cardinals in scoring (17.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.9 rpg) and for the second straight season led the conference in blocks (70). He scored a career-high 32 points against Goucher on Feb. 22 and is the program’s seventh-leading scorer with 1,604 career points.

Catholic (24-4) received an at-large berth to the Division III Tournament. The Cardinals will host the winner of the Elizabethtown College-Montclair State game Saturday at 7 p.m.


Philip Agee (Brooke Point ’99) was fourth in the pole vault last weekend at the Virginia Tech Last Chance Meet. His vault (a personal-best 15’11) also qualified him for the 1C4As.


Jason Brown (Hylton ’01) picked up his second win in relief Wednesday in Christopher Newport’s 11-8 win over Clarion. Brown also has three saves this season.


A host of local players helped Christopher Newport beat Ferrum 15-4 Feb. 22. Hadley Silver (Hylton ’01) scored three goals and had one assist, Amy Zucharo (Stonewall Jackson ’01) scored two goals, Kristin Johnson (Hylton ’01) scored two goals and had one assist, Natalie Musashe (Hylton ’01) scored one goal and team captain Lacey Milburn (Hylton ’01) also scored a goal.


Ivann Parker (Potomac ’02) has signed with Division I Ohio University. Parker, a 6-1, 280-pound defensive lineman, played at Hargrave Military Academy this past season. He will enroll in Ohio for the fall semester.

David Fawcett’s They’re In College Now column appears Fridays in the Potomac News & Manassas Journal Messenger. Reach him at [email protected] or at (703) 878-8052.

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