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Veltema’s Hot Hand Helps Calvin in MIAA Tournament Play

Saturday, February 28, 2009

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By Bruce Van Baren

GRAND RAPIDS – Matt Veltema’s hot hand has been the spark plug for Calvin’s offense over the last three games.

In Calvin’s MIAA tournament semi-final win over Olivet on Friday, Veltema exploded from three-point range. The 6-6 forward poured in 19 points on four of six from down town en route to his fourth straight double-digit effort.

“Matt is one of the best catch and shoot players I’ve ever seen or ever played with,” senior forward Tyler Zoerhof (Holland Christian) said. “He’s just so confident right now and it’s really beneficial to us.”

Veltema came off the bench to score 14 first-half points in each of the previous three games – a loss at Kalamazoo last Saturday and wins against Trine on Wednesday and Olivet tonight.

Veltema’s perimeter game has also sparked Calvin to back-to-back 50 point efforts in the first half.

“It’s a huge spark for us,” Caleb Veldhouse (Sioux Falls Christian) said. “He just goes out there and is unconscious from behind the arc. A lot of teams aren’t really prepared for someone to come off the bench who can shoot like that.”

Veltema leads the team with 55 three-point field goals and is second only to sophomore forward Danny Rodts (Niles HS) in three-point field goal percentage (.500). Veltema is also 11 of 18 from downtown in Calvin’s last three games.

“The guys are just finding me for open looks and the shots are falling,” Veltema said. “What more can you ask for?”

Veltema scored in double figures nine out of Calvin’s first ten games this season. He is third on the team in scoring behind Veldhouse and John Mantel (Chelsea HS) with 12.7 points-per-game.

“Game in and game out, start to finish, whether we started him or brought him off the bench, he’s been our most consistent player,” coach Kevin Vande Streek said. “He’s worked hard in the low post, rebounding and defensively.”

But the junior marksman embraces his role as Calvin’s spark plug off the bench.

“I’m just trying to bring energy,” Veltema said. “Those starters get us going and Zoerhof, Tim Katt (Brookfield East HS) and I just like to bring energy off the bench.”

Veltema’s proficiency has also helped the Knights elevate their abysmal shooting percentage inside Van Noord Arena. Calvin shot just 38 percent in its seven regular season home games, but has shot 46-percent in Wednesday’s 89-54 win over Trine and 60-percent Friday.

“When he’s confident everybody else is confident,” Zoerhof said. “That’s what’s getting us going in terms of our shooting percentage in the last couple games.”

Vande Streek says Veltema’s three-point prowess reminds him a lot of Calvin’s all-time three-point leader Andy Draayer (2003-2006).

“Matt’s got great range obviously,” Vande Streek said. “He really stretches the defense and just knocks it in. I hope it continues.”
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