Men’s Basketball Team Falls to Hope in MIAA Tournament Championship Game 78-74
Saturday, February 27, 2010
The Calvin Hope rivalry never ceases to provide excitement, the kind of excitement that can only be found in collegiate sports. On Saturday night, February 27th, 2010, another chapter was added to this great rivalry, but it is a chapter Calvin fans would probably skip over rather than read after the result of Saturday night’s duel.
Hope won the game 78-74, a thriller right down to the last seconds, and only by making some clutch free throws did the Dutchmen manage to maintain a two-possession four point lead.
The loss for Calvin signals the second time in two straight years where the Knights have won hosting rights for the MIAA tournament and lost the championship game at home to Hope.
In addition, Hope gains the MIAA’s automatic bid to the NCAA III Tournament. The Flying Dutchmen also lead the all-time series 90-86.
“The first four minutes of the game were really poor for us and really good for Hope,” Vande Streek commented. “And the last three minutes of the game I thought were about the same.”
“Defensively I thought we just didn’t get it done to start with,” Vande Streek continued, “and it’s tough to come back, but down the stretch defensively we did a pretty nice job. We had some shots but just didn’t make them.”
Calvin senior John Mantel, in probably his last game as a Knight, put up the best game of his four-year varsity career by scoring a career-high 29 points and pulling down 9 rebounds. His performance was what brought the Knights back into the game after falling behind early, and it was what kept the lead for Calvin as they battled to control the game in the final minutes.
Junior point guard Trent Salo also played a tremendous game in connecting on all five of his first five shots, four of those coming from three-point land. He finished with 14 points
“It’s never fun to lose to them [Hope], especially in the last game most likely in your season and career,” said Mantel of the loss. “They’re an outstanding program, and you have to give a lot of credit to them.”
“I’m really proud of John [Mantel],” said Vande Streek when asked about his senior center and his Calvin career. “From a maturity standpoint and an example standpoint, he’s just a quality young man and then you throw in the fact that he’s such a talented basketball player.”
“I would say that John is definitely one of the best players I’ve coached,” he continued, “and I would say we relied on him more than we’ve ever relied on anyone since I’ve been here for so many things.”
In the first half, the basketball that was played in the Van Noord was Dutchmen basketball. Hope rattled off a 17-5 run in the first four minutes of the game, and they built on that lead as the half progressed, going up by as much as 14 [27-13] at one point.
But Calvin used a nice scoring run of ten straight points to close that gap thereafter, and so with just under eight minutes to play in the half and trailing only 27-23, the Knights were certainly back in the game.
The two teams went in to the half with Hope leading by a slim three points at 41-38. Calvin had clawed their way back into the thick of things, and once the second half got underway they went right back to work.
The Knights took their first lead of the game only two and a half minutes into the second period on a put-back layup from freshman Tommy Snikkers, and they managed to build on that lead somewhat as the half went on.
Calvin led by as much as seven on two different occasions, the last being with about ten and a half minutes to play. Hope then did to Calvin what the Knights had done to them in the first half, and they started to climb closer and closer, tying the game at 66 apiece and then again at 72 apiece, and then taking a lead on free throws by junior Peter Bunn, who finished the game with 24 points and 6 boards for the Dutchmen.
“He’s a really good athlete,” said Mantel of Bunn. “He’s a great player and he’s going to have a great rest of his career.”
The key moment of the game could be pinpointed in a number of places, but one of the biggest moments for the Knights was just after Hope had tied the game at 72-72.
The Knights went down the court, with the clock clicking away at around two minutes left in the game, and missed three attempts from beyond the arc, all on the same possession. On the third miss, Calvin grabbed the rebound but missed a contested layup and on the ensuing rebound grabbed by Hope, the Knights were charged with a foul.
“We were up there and we had the lead, and it seemed to me that any one of those (three-point shots) would’ve sealed it because then we would’ve been shooting free throws,” said Vande Streek on that sequence of offensive chances. “We needed a big one there, and we didn’t get it.”
Another play that will be remembered occurred with the Dutchmen leading 74-72. Bunn had just hit two free throws after being fouled as a result of Campbell’s missed lay-up, and Calvin looked to Salo again to hit a clutch three. His attempt was off and Mantel came down with an offensive rebound. Mantel immediately tried to go back up for a lay-up but was stripped of the ball in heavy traffic. Bunn came away with the ball and the subsequent fouls saw him sink four more free throws to seal Calvin’s fate.
Again, the game marks the second straight tournament championship loss that Calvin has suffered at home in the past two years, both defeats coming at the hands of the Dutchmen.
But nevertheless, the level of excitement that a game such as this brings to Division III basketball shows exactly why this rivalry is one of the greatest in collegiate sports.