HESSTON — After a back and forth start to its season, the Hesston College men’s basketball team is moving forward. After a 4-1 start, Hesston endured a surprising four-game slide. Hesston coach Dustin Galyon pointed to the fourth loss in that stretch, a Nov. 23 22-point home setback to Southeast (Neb.) Community College, a team the Larks had beaten just two weeks prior, as a turning point. Winners of its last five games, the Larks are now flying high. Because of their play, the Larks have received votes in the latest NJCAA basketball polls, released Tuesday. The recent win streak is more impressive when you consider the opponents. A 75-58 win over Johnson County Community College pushed Hesston to a 6-5 record. The following week, Hesston earned an 86-84 home win over Highland Community College. Four days later, the Larks overcame a double digit, second half deficit at NJCAA Division I Allen Community College to win 86-79. Now 9-5 heading into the Christmas break, the Larks may be giving fans a sneak peak of even more success in the spring semester. “Our team is at an all-time high,” Galyon said. “We’re approaching every practice with anticipation and we know that if we play a physical defense and continue to be unselfish we have a chance to be really good. Our guys have tightened up defensively and are holding each other accountable to being a tough, selfless team.” Hesston’s backcourt has provided plenty of offense. Sophomore guards Mahlon Jones of Oklahoma City, Pierre Zook of McMinnville, Ore and Alex Santiago of Burrton are all averaging double figures in points per game. The improvement of Hesston’s interior production, however, is perhaps the biggest reason for the Larks’ recent success. Galyon named Armond Patterson of Indianapolis, Beau Palmer of Oklahoma City and Tra Smoot of East St. Louis, Ill., as post players who have stepped up their game. “Armond has brought a level of toughness and physicality,” Galyon said. “He has owned his role for our team and we have been successful because of it. Beau has shown spurts of being a real impact player at this level and Tra is starting to realize his talent on both ends of the court.” After four non-region games to begin the spring semester slate, a pair of late-January Region VI contests loom large on the Larks schedule. A Jan. 23 rematch versus Johnson County and a matchup with 12th-ranked Brown Mackie College a week later will go a long way to determining Hesston’s region standing.