Saturday's 81-58 Mid-Atlantic win over Christendom was almost just a backdrop, merely window dressing to a much larger setting. Because it was the final regular season game for the Mustang's lone senior, Joseph Hill. He will also complete his four years in the green, white and orange as the Mustang's leading scorer in the USCAA era with more than 900 points.
The Creswell, NC native, who arrived on the MACU campus in 2013 as a transfer from Pitt Community College, finished out in appropriate style, muscling for 18 points to lead all scorers. Hill's solid play in the middle was consistent with how he has worked the previous four seasons, quietly leading by example. That kind of leadership is something head coach Allan Harris says he has seen Joe develop.
"Joe has grown a lot since coming to MACU," said Harris, who has coached Hill as an assistant or head coach all four years. "He is showing character, understanding that everything will not be like he wants, but if he perseveres and stays encouraged, good things will happen."
It hasn't been all sunshine and roses for the 6'3" forward. Athletic Director Neal Alligood, who served as Hill's coach for the first two years, says, "He and I have butted heads a few times, but that is the way it should be at times during a growth process. Seeing Joe finish out his time on the court, being focused on finishing his degree, being one of the more devoted student athletes, and stepping up as a leader at times when I least expected it, I could not be more excited for him and proud of him!"
"Coach Neal was like a father figure to me," admitted Hill. "I needed a place like MACU to help me grow. It was a good fit."
Hill was on schedule to finish his degree last December. Instead, he changed his major from Leadership to Business Administration to stay enrolled and finish out the season with eligibility. Harris says that was typical of the person Hill has become.
Harris added, "He has grown to a point of recognizing the need to motivate his teammates even when everything seems bleak. I'm really proud of Joe to be determined to finish what he started."
MACU is host to the Bible College National Invitational Tournament starting Wednesday. After Saturday's win, Big Joe was quoted in the Daily Advance as saying, "Championship. I told the guys that is what I want."
Apparently Hill isn't quite finished just yet.