The VMI basketball season ended with a hard-fought loss to Wofford, 68-66, at the SoCon quarterfinals March 5, but the team entered the game with a 16-14 record, including nine conference wins, the most SoCon victories in a season for a VMI basketball team since the 1998-99 campaign. The Keydets were seeded No. 5 in the tournament, their highest placing since rejoining the Southern Conference in 2014-15.
In the game against Wofford, the No. 4 seed, Max Klesmit converted a go-ahead three-point play with seven seconds left to lead the Terriers past VMI. The game was part of the 2022 Ingles Southern Conference Men’s Basketball Championship, held at Harrah’s Cherokee Center–Asheville in Asheville, North Carolina.
The first 6:15 of the game saw three lead changes and six ties, as neither team jumped to an early lead. A quick 8-0 spurt gave the Terriers the first substantial lead of the game with 12:18 remaining in the half. The teams traded baskets for several minutes as Wofford maintained its lead until VMI used an 8-0 run of its own to go up 34-33 late in the half. Each team added a pair of points before time expired, and the Keydets held a 36-35 advantage at halftime.
The Keydets held on to the lead for just over six minutes into the second half, but the Terriers were chipping away and eventually took the lead, 50-49, and ran with it as the teams had less than 11 minutes left to play. Wofford worked its way to a 57-51 advantage and held off a VMI comeback, 57-56, before hitting back-to-back treys to go up seven, 63-56. The Keydets were not deterred and embarked on a 10-2 run lasting 3:05 to take a 66-65 lead. With seven ticks left on the clock, Klesmit sank a layup for the Terriers and connected on the subsequent free throw to put Wofford up 68-66. The Terriers stopped a last-second attempt from the Keydets to hold on for the win.
Morgan Safford led Wofford with a season-high 17 points and a team-high four assists. Klesmit netted 15 points while B.J. Mack notched his fifth double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds to round out the double-digit efforts for the Terriers. Jake Stephens ’22 led the Keydets with 23 points, while Trey Bonham ’24 added 17 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Honor Huff ’25 also dished out a game-high five assists for VMI.
“Obviously a really hard-fought game,” said Dan Earl, VMI head coach. “Credit to Wofford, I thought they did a tremendous job. They’re a program I admire tremendously. … They made it tough on us defensively. I thought they did a really good job. … Super proud of our group. Obviously, we would have wanted the game to end a different way, but our guys kept battling and battling. … I am proud of our program, where we have come from, and how we have built it. I don’t think most people look at us and think, ‘We are going to beat VMI easily.’ … I would like to thank our seniors, Connor Arnold, and this guy, Jake Stephens, just a phenomenal young man.”
Four Keydets Earn SoCon Postseason Honors
After an excellent season on the hardwood, four VMI basketball players were recognized March 2 by the coaches and members of the media throughout the Southern Conference.
Stephens was named First Team All-Conference by both the coaches and the media. Kamdyn Curfman ’23, guard, was named Second Team All-Conference by the media and Third Team All-Conference by the coaches, and Bonham was named Third Team All-Conference by both the coaches and media.
Huff was named to the All-Freshman team by both the coaches and SoCon media panel.
Below is a synopsis of this season’s accomplishments for each honoree:
Jake Stephens ’22
Coaches First Team All-Conference—Media First Team All-Conference
Four times Southern Conference Player of the Week
Lou Henson National Player of the Week Jan. 3
SoCon Player of the Month for December
Career-high 39 points versus Samford Feb. 17
Ranks second in the SoCon in scoring (19.3 ppg) and second in rebounding (9.2 rpg)
Ranked first in the league in FG percentage (.559) and 3FG percentage (.489)
Ranked second in the league in blocks (2.0 bpg)
Has 15 20-plus point games this season, including 14 of the last 19 contests he played in
Career-high 21 rebounds at The Citadel Jan. 15—most in the SoCon this season
Became 43rd Keydet in program history to join the 1,000 Career Points club (1,370 career points)
Kamdyn Curfman ’23
Media Second Team All-Conference—Coaches Third Team All-Conference
Ranked sixth in the SoCon in scoring at 15.8 ppg
Has hit a three-pointer in 31 consecutive games – the longest active streak in the league
Tied for first in league in 3FG made (3.7) – 111 makes from beyond the arc is most in the SoCon and third-most for a single season in program history
Career-high six threes in a game three times this season
Became 44th Keydet in program history to join the 1,000 career points club (1,120 career points)
Scored in double figures in 28 of 30 games this season
Six 20-plus point games this season, including career-high 27 points at Marist Nov. 20
Has hit 5-plus threes in seven contests in 2021-22
Trey Bonham ’24
Coaches Third Team All-Conference—Media Third Team All-Conference
SoCon Player of the Week Feb. 21 after averaging 25.5 points, 4.5 rpg, and 4.5 assists
Scored in double figures in 17 of last 18
Career-high 31 points at Samford Feb. 17
Career-high eight assists versus Samford Jan. 20
Tied for third in the SoCon in assists per game (4.0) and tied for fourth in assist-turnover ratio (1.9)
Ranks sixth in the SoCon in free-throw percentage (.822)
Career-high nine boards versus The Citadel Feb. 12
Honor Huff ’25
Coaches All-Freshman Team—Media All-Freshman Team
Over last 13 games, averaged 15.6 points
Scored in double figures 11 times out of last 13 games
Four 20-plus point games
Set career scoring high in three straight games in January; had 15 points versus The Citadel Jan. 15, 21 points versus Samford Jan. 20, and new career-high 23 points versus Chattanooga Jan. 22
Scored five threes versus Samford Jan. 20
Sixteen starts as a true freshman
27.2 minutes per game to lead all VMI freshmen
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared at vmikeydets.com.