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Men’s Basketball Clinches Share of MIAA Title With Win at Olivet

Saturday, February 14, 2009

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Box Score

By Bruce Van Baren

OLIVET – Calvin avenged its only loss of the conference schedule with a 72-61 win Saturday at Olivet’s Cutler Events Center.

The Knights (16-6, 11-1 MIAA) clinched a share of their first MIAA championship since 2006. Calvin also secured the top-seed for the MIAA tournament.

“It’s very satisfying because last year we didn’t cut down any nets: no conference tournament and no conference championship,” coach Kevin Vande Streek said. “We’re pretty excited to come back and get it done this year.

Calvin suffered a let down against Olivet after its thrilling road win at Hope, losing its only conference game to the Comets 60-57 on January 21.

“It’s probably a good thing we’re playing Olivet as opposed to someone else,” Vande Streek said. “After an emotional win (over Hope), it gave us just a little extra motivation to say we’ve got a little pay back for them.”

Calvin won either the conference tournament or the conference championship seven out of the previous eight years before being shutout from the hardware a year ago.

“It’s nice to finally take care of business,” Tyler Zoerhof (Holland Christian) said. “We’ve kind of messed up towards the middle of the season the past couple years.”

Zoerhof sparked Calvin’s stagnant offense in the second half. Zoerhof’s layup capped the 13-4 run that gave the Knights the lead for good. Zoerhof hit a shot-clock beating three-pointer, blocked a shot and had a fast break layup on the run.

“We were just getting frustrated as a team,” Zoerhof said. “I was trying to be a senior and show some leadership. I just tried to stay fundamental. We got a couple of easy baskets and quick turnovers which helped us.”

Zoerhof matched his season-high in scoring with nine points and grabbed six rebounds.

“I thought he played outstanding,” Vande Streek said. “He did a nice job defensively and on the board against Brandon McClary, one of the best (players) in conference. I thought down the stretch, the last ten minutes, he was really good.”

Calvin exploded to take a 31-17 lead in the first half. Calvin’s leading scorer and last week’s MIAA player of the week John Mantel (Chelsea HS) exited after picking up two quick fouls in the first four minutes and did not play the rest of the half.

Caleb Veldhouse (Sioux Falls Christian) stepped up in his absence hitting a pair of three-pointers to give Calvin its largest lead. Veldhouse led the Knights for the second straight game with 14 points.

The Knights’ complacency allowed Olivet to erase a 14-point deficit in the first half. Andy Clark ignited the Comets with five first-half three-pointers. Clark’s season-high 17 points all came in the first half and gave Olivet a 36-35 halftime lead.

“I think we all got caught standing around watching Caleb,” Zoerhof said. “Caleb was shooting really well. We got real stagnant on offense and ended up taking bad shots. They also picked up their defense.”

Olivet closed the half on a 19-4 run. Calvin scored only one field goal over the eight minute stretch.

“Caleb got it going for a stretch there, but that seemed to be the end of our offense,” Vande Streek said. “We stood and watched instead of working hard. In the second half we did a much better job moving and working.”

Dustin Smith (Hamilton) scored 11 points and Mantel added 10 points in a season-low 18 minutes. Zoerhof had nine points, Matt Veltema (Calvin Christian) had eight points and Danny Roodts (Niles HS) had seven points. Mike Zwier (Tri-Unity Christian) led Calvin with eight rebounds.

Calvin held Brandon McClary, the MIAA’s second leading scorer (he recently moved past Adrian’s Desmond Young), to 14 points and nine rebounds. McClary averages 21 points-per-game at home. Clark led the Comets with 17 points. Joe Post and Michael McClary each added nine points.

Calvin will host the MIAA tournament for the first time inside VanNoord Arena. Calvin is 5-1 at home this season.

“It’s a huge advantage for us to have the home crowd,” Zoerhof said. “It’s tough for teams to travel and play back to back games while staying in a hotel.”

Calvin will host a first-round tournament game on February 25. If the Knights win, they will host the tournament semifinals on February 27 and the finals on February 28.

NOTES: ...Calvin’s MIAA title is its 28th overall including its sixth under current head coach Kevin Vande Streek….Olivet is the only men’s basketball team to win inside the VanNoord Arena… Calvin is ranked fourth in the second set of regional rankings released Wednesday… John Mantel was the MIAA player of the week for the third time this year… Calvin has out-rebounded its opponent in every MIAA game.

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