• 59°

Waginger top SoCon defender

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Brigham Waginger has always liked playing defense. Evidently, the Southern Conference basketball coaches like the way he plays defense, too.

Waginger — a 6-foot-2 senior point guard for Western Carolina — was honored by the league for his defensive work by being voted the Southern Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year along with Jeremy Simmons of the College of Charleston.

The Ironton native led the SoCon in steals with a 2.7 average. He ranks seventh nationally in steals per contest and helped the Catamounts to their first 20-win season since joining the Division I college level more than 30 years ago.

He also ranks third in assists with a 4.5 average.

Simmons, a junior forward, led the league with 2. 1 blocked shots per game.

Waginger — who had a season-high seven steals in WCU’s final regular season game against UT-Chattanooga — was selected to the third team by the coaches.

Wofford junior forward Noah Dahlman was named the Player of the Year while Davidson’s J.P. Kuhlman was the Freshman of the Year. Mike Young of Wofford was named the Coach of the Year.

Western Carolina’s Brandon Giles was named to the second team and Jake Robinson was a third team pick.

The Southern Conference tournament begins Friday at Bojangles’ Coliseum in Charlotte, N.C. After the first two rounds, the tournament moves to the Time Warner Cable Arena for Sunday’s semifinals and Monday’s championship game.

Time Warner Cable Arena is the home of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats.

The tournament champion earns an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.