Saint Francis coach Chad LaCross

Saint Francis coach Chad LaCross talks about the Cougars in the NAIA Division II national championship, what it will take to win the title and what stands out most about this season. By Tony Krausz, The Journal Gazette

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Saint Francis
vs. Robert Morris
What: NAIA Division II championship
Where: College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Mo.
When: 5 p.m. Thursday
Saint Francis forward Scott Kohne

Saint Francis forward Scott Kohn talks about his four years with the Cougars, who open play in the NAIA Division II national championship this week. By Tony Krausz, The Journal Gazette

File
Scott Kohne and the Cougars open the NAIA tournament Thursday.

Cougars’ senior Kohne ready to make last run

– It is hard to find much wrong with Scott Kohne’s basketball career at Saint Francis.

The senior forward was a member of teams that reached the NAIA Division II national championship game and the Elite Eight. He led the team in scoring and rebounding the last two years, was named to the All-Crossroads League first team in each of the last two seasons, was an NAIA All-American last season and gained some national fame when his fadeaway 3-pointer at the buzzer in the Cougars’ 62-60 win over Huntington on Feb. 18 landed him the top spot of “SportsCenter’s” Top 10.

But if there is one regret for Kohne and Saint Francis coach Chad LaCross, its that this year’s NAIA championship run will be the Bishop Dwenger graduate’s last.

“If I had one regret going back my first year, it’s not redshirting Scott. To have him for one more year, it would be unbelievable,” said LaCross, whose 14th-seeded Cougars (21-10) open tournament play against unseeded Robert Morris on Thursday at College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo.

Many coaches would like to have a player like Kohne for one season.

Kohne accepted his role and worked to develop when he first got to Saint Francis.

Kohne played in only 10 games as a freshman, scoring 12 points as Saint Francis made a second straight appearance in the NAIA title game, falling 80-71 to Cornerstone. He played in 36 games as sophomore, averaging 12.2 points as the Cougars reached the Elite Eight of the NAIA tournament.

“I think that was the best thing for me, just being able to grow into my Saint Francis uniform,” Kohne said. “Looking back on it, I wish I would have redshirted my freshman year. I only played 30 some minutes any way. If I would have redshirted, I would still have another year at making another run. But I can’t complain about anything. I had a great four years.”

Saint Francis also can’t complain about what Kohne has given the program.

He averaged 17.1 points and 8.5 rebounds this season after averaging 19 points and 10.2 rebounds as a junior. And he made sure the Cougars were ready to make another run to the NAIA tournament after missing out last season.

“My first two years, I was kind of spoiled because we got to go to Branson,” Kohne said. “Last year not going to Branson, I had that sour taste in my mouth kind of all year. I think that was extra motivation to keep the guys motivated and focused on the goal at hand, which was to perform well in conference and get to Branson.”

While Kohne regrets missing one year in the national tournament, he said he is happy with his career no matter how this latest run ends.

“Making in three out of four years, that is what everybody plays for to try to go to Branson,” Kohne said. “Finishing there three out of four years, I would say that’s a success. I think whatever happens I can still say I had a successful career.”

And Kohne will always have a special place in Saint Francis’ program, not just for the recognition he provided the university with his game-winning shot.

“I think he has a lot of respect within the Saint Francis community and the classroom,” LaCross said of the Capital One Academic All-American District 2 selection. “Being able to balance everything and still be a leader for us in the classroom and motivate our young guys. It’s just going to be hard to replace.”

tkrausz@jg.net

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