ROCHESTER, N.Y.—It was a disappointing finish to what was an otherwise outstanding season for the Rochester mens basketball team.

At the heart of their 24-5 season and run to the Division III Elite 8 was Westport native Mack Montague, who became one of the leaders on the court this season for the Yellow Jackets. Rochester fell in a 91-87 thriller to No. 1 ranked Whitman in Ohio last Saturday to conclude the season.

A 6-foot-3 guard, Montague arrived in Rochester as a shooter-turned-occasional playmaker. By the time the final horn sounded on his stellar career, he developed into a well-rounded player hopeful of competing at the professional level overseas.

“Mack has been one of the central figures in our program over last four years,” said Rochester coach Luke Flockerzi. “His improvement over his career really helped our program reach the pinnacle; he deserves a lot of credit for what program accomplished over the last four years; it’s nice to see that steady build.”

For his career with the Yellow Jackets, Montague steadily improved. He averaged 15.7 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game as a senior while averaging 30.8 minutes a contest.

“Honestly it’s been a roller-coaster ride,” Montague said. “Our first years we were 10-15 and last season we were 17-8; it’s been a true story of steady growth. It was fun to go through that with my teammates here.”

Montague grew up in Westport and began playing travel hoops for Mike Garrity, one of the top instructors in the area. He aimed to follow the path of fellow Westporter John DiBartolomeo--who attended Rochester from 2009-2013 and became one of the top, who is now playing for Maccabi Haifa in Israel.

But instead of attending Staples like DiBartolomeo, Montague chose a different path.

“I had a lot of friends that went to prep schools and they always talked about the differ level of exposure in terms of college coaches,” Montague said. “They’re just able to do more in terms of recruiting that public schools can’t.”

After one year at Staples High, Montague chose to attend Suffield Academy. He was a three-sport standout with Suffield, which won the New England Class B basketball championship in his senior season. The increased competition at the Hartford area school helped prepare him for the next level.

“It was a kind of a shock to me,” Montague said. “I didn’t realize how competitive it was there; immediately there was Division I talent and a long pecking order. That’s what motivated me; seeing how good these guys were, I didn’t want to sit on the bench. It jump-started that self-ambition.”

That ambition was on full display with the Yellow Jackets and peaked with a remarkable senior campaign. Rochester started out 13-0 and was ranked in the top handful of schools before finishing second in the UAA conference. Part of a strong senior class, Montague was a program role model, according to Flockerzi.

“I think he has really improved as a person,” Flockerzi said. "Over the last four years he’s matured and made positive strides as a student athlete. It’s fun to watch your players grow; on the court he’s developed every aspect.”