Men's basketball looking to finish strong
February 5, 2013
~ Senior Ethan Fite ~
With four games remaining in the regular season, and despite being eliminated from receiving a double bye in the Ohio Athletic Conference tournament, the Wilmington College men’s basketball teams have all of their goals in front of them.
Mainly, the Fightin’ Quakers are striving to win the OAC tournament and earn the automatic berth to the NCAA tournament. Although WC made a long run through the conference tournament last season from the six seed, and having to play four games in six days, earning a bye into the quarterfinals would be beneficial.
“This is a huge week for us,” said head coach K.C. Hunt. “We have two home games and we have to take care of business at home. With every win, we are closer to finishing in the top four. If you have designs on winning the championship, you have to give yourself the best opportunity. The best way is to play less games.”
Wilmington’s run to the tournament starts 7:30 p.m. Wednesday as it hosts Otterbein. The Fightin’ Quakers won the first meeting in Westerville, 72-61. In fact, WC has beaten all four of its remaining opponents. However, three of the four opponents are fighting with Wilmington for the chance to be a spectator during the opening round of the tournament.
John Carroll and Mount Union are tied with the Quakers at 7-7 in the league, while Ohio Northern is one game back at 6-8. Two of the four teams will earn a bye to the quarterfinals and a home game.
Sophomore Dwight Johnson (Dayton, OH/Jefferson) scored half of his career-high 22 points during the game-changing 19-3 run in the win over the Cardinals on January 10. Prior to the spurt, Wilmington was struggling on the road and trailed midway through the second half.
Johnson was one of four players to tally double figures in the victory. Senior Brandon Candella (West Chester, OH/Lakota West) added 17 points, junior Malcolm Heard II (Wilmington, OH/Wilmington) recorded 11 points and sophomore Klarke Ransome (Richwood, OH/North Union) had 10.
“We have to do the same thing as the last game,” said Hunt. “We have to rebound, push tempo and play in transition. We have to defend the three because they can shoot it. We have to be urgent in finding their shooters.”
Otterbein enters Wednesday’s game on a three-game losing streak after falling to Mount Union Saturday, 93-65. The Cardinals have three scorers averaging double figures in junior Max Van Meter (12.1), freshman Jake Bischoff (11.4) and senior Zack Bakenhaster (10.6).
Bakenhaster is leading the team with 6.8 rebounds, while Van Meter is added 6.3 boards per contest.