Tales of MIAA Men’s BB Tourney – Dateline: Olivet College
Hope and Olivet play Saturday 7:30 p,m, at Cutler
By Joanne Williams
Olivet’s first home host of the MIAA basketball championships was a contrast in moods.
First about 200 fans gathered to see a slow-building Adrian vs. Hope college game which ended in a 81-65 win for Hope.
In the first five minutes, the Adrian Bulldogs dominated the floor and the scoreboard, putting up 8 unanswered buckets in the first almost four minutes.
Things changed, of course, but this was a true championship match up, featuring the teams of second-season coach Kyle Lindsay at Adrian, and fourth-year coach Greg Mitchell at Hope.
In a post-game press conference, Lindsay spoke of the season as one where his team “battled through diversity together.” The Bulldogs have one senior on a team dominated by freshmen and sophomores, including MIAA honor roll standout Justin Webster, the lone senior, with 13 points on the night.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of this team,” Lindsay said,
“We’ve progressively gotten better and better,” said Hope Flying Dutchmen Coach Greg Mitchell at the same press conference. “We are certainly glad to advance.”
Hope has been a perennial powerhouse in post-season play, but this year also has a team with just two seniors in the midst of six freshmen and sophomores.
A standout is junior Jason Beckman, from Shelby, who posted 26 points in the game. He is also a transfer from Alma College.
Mitchell had praise for Beckman as well as the younger Hope players, including Preston Granger, a freshman from Lansing. He has “really evolved,” Mitchell said of Granger.
There was a clean-sweep of The Cutler Event Center in between the games, and an influx of more than 800 fans, the Olivet College Athletic Band, a mighty 20-plus Trine student section, Trine cheerleaders, and a majority of Comet fans as Olivet faced the Thunder in their MIAA matchup.
Line-ups were called by public address announcer at about 7:50 p.m. At first, it was hard to hear the Comet crowd over the actual roar of the Thunder fans. That changed, as did the tenor of the game, but it was never a run-away match up, with nine lead changes throughout the contest, and the Comets within striking distance of 10 more than once.
The final score of 78-71 Comets is an indication of the battle that took place on Hathaway Court, the home hosts victors and already preparing for Hope.
Of the Trine battle, Coach Steve Ernst said, “We all knew it was going to be a heck of a battle this year….nobody crumbled,” at a press conference following the victory.
Part of the success of the game was the crowd. Ernst said, “The fans have really carried us in the second half.”
And from the other side of the bench, Trine’s Maurice Hunter, a sophomore, with 16 points for the night, said, the crowd, “was really loud,” and the game was a good learning experience.
Tonight’s game is at 7:30 p.m. Tickets will be on sale in the Cutler lobby at 5:30 p.m., $7 and $5 for most fans.