Men’s Basketball bids adieu to seniors in win


Kyle Parker ’17 makes a breakaway layup after a steal in the first half against Lawrence University on Saturday, Feb. 22. Photograph by John Brady.

After a thrilling 122-111 victory over Lawrence University on Saturday, Feb. 22, three seniors on the men’s basketball team were honored before an excited crowd, many of whom were students with torsos covered in white paint, per the game’s “white-out” theme. Teammates, coaches and fans all applauded Cody Olson ’14, Aaron Levin ’14, and Pat Maher ’14 for the dedication and sweat they have poured out for the team.

The seniors were recognized individually as their parents joined them in the emotional commemoration. Olson graciously hugged his mother as the public announcement speaker listed his accomplishments. Levin’s parents guided their son, whose college career ended abruptly this season due to an ACL injury, to center court as he was introduced. Levin’s mother, so proud of her son, had tears in her eyes.

“[Aaron] is the heart and soul of our program and to see him go down with a season-ending injury, three-quarters [into] the season, broke our hearts,” said Kyle Parker ’17. “Aaron continues to have a great attitude. He is the best teammate anyone could ask for.”

Kyle Parker ’17 makes a breakaway layup after a steal in the first half against Lawrence University on Saturday, Feb. 22. Photograph by John Brady.
Kyle Parker ’17 makes a breakaway layup after a steal in the first half against Lawrence University on Saturday, Feb. 22. Photograph by John Brady.

Maher, who ended his collegiate career in style by establishing a new NCAA record with 37 assists in a game against College of Faith on Monday, Jan. 6, was introduced last. The announcer opened his remark by saying how coaches were proud of his growth—literally, as he grew an inch every year at college and spiritually, as a leader of the team.

“[The seniors] have invested a plethora of blood, sweat and tears into this program and helped build it up to what it is today,” said Ryan Davis ’16. “It won’t be the same without them next year.”

In the game against Lawrence, Grinnell held the lead over the Vikings by as much as 11 in the first half. The opponent, though, eventually cut the lead to four going into halftime.

“The fan support that day with the white-out was awesome,” said Stuart Hoegh ’17. “It was a fun game to play in.”

The Pioneers, with ferocious three-point shooting from Jack Taylor ’15 and Julian Marx ’17, responded to the crowd and slowly pulled away in the second half. The duo scored 24 and 20 points, respectively, allowing the Pioneers to extend the lead and eventually finish the game victorious. Maher finished his last game at home with a near triple-double with 26 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

“Since the game didn’t really count for anything in terms of our playoff standings, we could have easily given in and put on a weak performance,” Davis said. “We persevered, though, and overcame with our drive to win. It was a game that solidified our position as one of the best teams in the conference.”

The team concluded the regular season with a 13-5 record in conference and 18-5 overall, good for a second place finish in the conference standings. They will battle in a four-team tournament this weekend at De Pere, Wisc. The Pioneers will face the third-seed Ripon College in the first round.

“Winning in Wisconsin is not easy, so we will have to be as fast and energetic as we have been all year,” said Anthony LaMacchia ’16. “Our energy is what wins games for us, so if we come out like it’s a home game with our fans in the stands, we have a great shot at winning two games this weekend.”

Grinnell split its two matches against Ripon this season, with each team winning on its home court.

“We’ve been practicing pretty hard this week, and we have some prep time in De Pere on Thursday,” Davis said. “[We have been] running through what Ripon is going to do offensively and defensively. If we just take care of business as we have and shoot the ball, the results should come.”

If the Pioneers defeat Ripon, they will advance to play the winner of the match between St. Norbert College and Carroll University in the Championship game. Nationally ranked St. Norbert is expected to cruise to the final round. The Grinnell men have provided tough competition to the Green Knights this season as they pulled off a near upset at St. Norbert in a 121-115 overtime loss on Saturday, Dec. 7.

“I expect there to be large, heckling crowd in attendance, just like we like it,” Parker said. “Upsetting the nationally ranked St. Norbert will go down as one of the largest wins in Grinnell basketball history.”