Men’s Basketball takes on Central Dutch in first round of Conference tournament


Tanner Frost, Sports Editor

In what was expected to be the game completing Buena Vista Men’s Basketball season sweep
over the Central Dutch in the first round of the Conference tournament ended in disappointment
for the Beavers.
Hosting the 10-15 Dutch this past Tuesday night, the 17-8 Buena Vista Men’s Basketball squad
was riding high after capping off a successful season which had them place 3rd in the IIAC
come Conference tournament time.
However, BVU was in for a big surprise by the end of the night.
A back and forth offensive shootout headlined the last game the four Beaver seniors will ever
play for the university, as a combined 27 three-point shots made Siebens Fieldhouse electric.
The breaking pregame news was that starting point guard, Connor Winkelman would not be
playing on the night. The junior had contracted an illness the day before, and sophomore spark
plug Billy Sparks will be filling in his spot for the matchup.
The game began much slower than the final score let on, as neither side could find their stroke.
BVU’s countless screens set by post players Canyon Hopkins and Matthew Goodman created
opportunities to score, but the Beavers failed to capitalize.
Meanwhile, Central’s dominant rebounding found them with possession to spare, and they
made the most of it. Each rebound found its way to a Dutch guard, who quickly moved the
offense down the court to counter the hosts with fastbreak buckets.
The Beavers offense remained stagnant for most of the first half, until Thomas Wisecup kicked
the game into high gear, sinking five three-point attempts in seven tries. David Jeffries led the
charge on the defensive side claiming two huge blocks plus a pair of steals heading into
halftime. Central remained on top 38-31 at half.
After halftime however, was when the game gained its momentum. Buena Vista finally found its
way through a tough Dutch defense feeding Hopkins inside, as the team’s signature three-point
play style excelled with shooters Adam Juhl along with Wisecup sinking threes.
BVU finally gained their largest lead of the night at 62-59 with 7:41 left in the second half when
Central found their second wind. Firing off seven straight unanswered points and regaining the
lead, the Dutch surged back.
The top three scorers for the Dutch, Malik Wildermuth, Jamel McKnight, and Kyle Smith all took
control of the game and left the Beavers in the dust.
The Central Dutch pulled away from BVU once again, and BVU tried their best to keep up with
the pace set by the visiting team, but it couldn’t be done. Free throws proved to be the deciding
factor in the game, as well as the final nail in the coffin for Buena Vista.
A 52.9% field goal percentage along with making 17 of their 21 free throws found Central on top
as the final buzzer sounded. The score would end at 84-70 in favor of the Dutch.
The Central Dutch advanced onto the second round, and subsequently beat Loras 113-108.
They failed to claim the conference title however; Nebraska Wesleyan won the tournament in
the final, 82-78.
Buena Vista Head Coach Brian Van Haaften was disappointed with the loss, claiming BVU
could have come away with the win if things had gone their way.
“They played better than we did tonight, there’s no doubt about that,” said Van Haaften. “We just did not shoot the basketball well tonight and we didn’t play great defensively either. The first half was really not good for us. We did a really nice job of getting back into the game but it just wasn’t enough.”
Coach Van Haaften also had time to reflect on the season as a whole as it concludes, along
with thanking his four seniors for their hard work and dedication to the program.
“I’m really happy with our season overall, says Van Haaften. “Our seniors were great this year, and were great leaders. I couldn’t be happier with those four guys. They know I love them and it was one of
those years where every single day we looked forward to practice and that really means a lot.”
The Beavers say goodbye to four key senior leaders on the squad: Thomas Wisecup,
David Jeffries, Adam Juhl, and Grant Wright.