Calvin Men’s Basketball Team Captures Outright MIAA Title With OT Win Over Alma
Saturday, February 20, 2010
(written by sports information student assistant Derek Neice)
Calvin is the MIAA’s best free throw shooting team, and on Senior Day at the Van Noord Arena the Knights hit key free throws late in the game to force overtime and seal the victory against a white-hot shooting Alma team that shot better from three-point range than anywhere else on the floor.
After only leading the Scots by a point at halftime the Knights trailed for much of the second half, and after a furious comeback in the final minutes of the game, Brent Schuster hit two free throws with six seconds left in the game to tie, forcing overtime.
“I thought we defended well and I just think they [Alma] played really well,” said Calvin coach Kevin Vande Streek. “I give our guys a lot of credit to just hang in there, battle through, and get the win.”
In overtime Calvin hit 14 of 16 attempts from the charity stripe, scoring as many points in those five overtime minutes as they did the entire second half with 22 points in both.
And the win not only gave the Knights sole possession of the regular season conference title, it also gave players the kind of morale boost that is extremely important moving into playoff crunch time.
Schuster led the Knights with a career high 18 points and a couple of big blocks, and junior Danny Rodts scored 9 of his 15 overall points in overtime. Senior John Mantel hit 7 of 12 free throws and finished with 9 points and 7 boards. Paul Campbell put on a great show in his last regular season game with a career-high 12 points, and Veltema finished with 10 points of his own as well.
“The two free throws by Brent [Schuster] obviously don’t get any bigger in a game like this,” said Vande Streek on Schuster’s clutch shooting.
“You don’t have a chance to continue the game if you don’t make them both, and him coming out and hitting a little fader at the start of overtime was huge to give us the lead.”
In the first half, Calvin gave up an early lead with Alma shooting very well, connecting on nearly 60 percent of its shots from the field. Calvin did manage to capture the lead though as they led by one at the break, but then Alma poured it on in the second half, getting up by as much as 10 in the second half on a nice dunk by sophomore Terry Brown.
With a minute-and-a-half to go in the second half, the Scots led 56-53 and looked to be in prime position to close the game out. But Calvin played good defense in the closing seconds and hit three free throws [including Schuster’s two to tie] and forced an additional five minutes of overtime play.
With adrenaline levels already running high, overtime maintained the excitement and the scoring finally arrived as Calvin hit 3 of 4 shots total and 14 of 16 free throws ,and Alma shot a scorching 6 of 9, including 5 of 6 from three point range.
With the Scots hitting virtually every three-pointer they attempted in overtime, the free throws Calvin hit to tie the game and force overtime, and the free throws they hit in overtime [including six straight makes by Danny Rodts] were the difference between a Calvin win or loss.
“We want to defensively play really good defense and not foul and offensively we really try to get the ball to the basket so we are shooting free throws,” said Vande Streek of his team’s success at the charity stripe. “So it is something we really emphasize and we are just blessed to have some guys who have good touch and are able to knock them in.”
“To have two in a row and I think seven in the last twelve years is just wonderful,” commented Vande Streek on repeating as MIAA champions. “It’s a great compliment to our guys and how hard they’ve worked and how hard they’ve played.”
Calvin finishes the season at 12-2 in the MIAA and 17-8 overall, the sole 2009-10 MIAA champs. They now face the MIAA tournament where they get home court advantage and guess what, a first round match-up against the Alma Scots on February 24th. If that game turns out to be anything like Saturday’s firefight, then it’s definitely a must-see.