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The Scarlet & Black

Basketball falls in Conference as season ends

Braedon Bayer ’18 leaps for the ball earlier this season.  Photo by John Brady
Braedon Bayer ’18 leaps for the ball earlier this season.
Photo by John Brady

After a rousing season that saw the Grinnell men’s basketball team make the Midwest Conference Tournament title game for the second year in a row, the Pioneers’ season ended last weekend with a 73-91 loss to St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.

The Pioneers, who finished the season 15-10, were within striking distance for half of the game, but St. Norbert, who goes on to play in the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament, took a 45-35 lead at the half that proved insurmountable.

Julian Marx ’17 led the Pioneers in the game with 18 points. Jacob Ekstrand ’18 added 12 points and Jack Taylor ’15, recently named to the 2015 All-Midwest Conference Men’s Basketball First Team, also hit double digits with 10. Luke Yeager ’15, who received an honorable mention on the All-Conference team, added four assists in the contest.

To even make the Midwest Conference Tournament title game, the Pioneers needed to beat Monmouth College in the semifinal, which they did to the tune of 98-89, after a pair of key three pointers from Marx.

“Veteran hits from the baby-faced sophomore,” said teammate Hayes Gardner ’15 about Marx’s late-game heroics.

The Monmouth game also featured Taylor amassing 2,000 career points and Yeager totaling over 1,500.

Despite not making the National Tournament, the Pioneers were proud of their performance over the weekend and of their season as a whole. Head coach David Arseneault highlighted the Monmouth game in particular.

“The Monmouth game was a grind. They were way more physical than us but we scrapped and found a way to get the job done. In truth, I’m still trying to figure out how we won that game,” Arseneault said.

Arseneault had no regrets in regards to the loss to St. Norbert.

“There really isn’t anything I would change from that St. Norbert game. We played as hard as we could and the better team won.”

Tague Zachary ’15 echoed Arseneault’s point, saying the team met his expectations for how hard they were going to work.

“With so many different variables of chance, all you can expect is for your guys to work hard,” Zachary said.

Gardner was proud of the season, especially after the team weathered a number of ups and downs early on.

“Like season 10 of Friends, all good things must come to an end,” Gardner said.

On the whole, Arseneault viewed the season as successful and a cause for optimism because of all the talented youth on the team.

“I knew trying to intermix so many first years would take some time. When several of those first years figured some things out in mid-season, we were suddenly a very deep team and [in] our last ten games of the year, we played some very good basketball,” Arseneault said.

Gardner stated that he thinks of the first years as his little brothers.

“They love playing with each other and they are going to be a great class,” Gardner said.

This was the final game for the seniors, a fact which brought on some powerful emotions for the soon-to-be graduates.

“Basketball defined my time at Grinnell,” Gardner said. “The happiest moment of my life came playing basketball at Grinnell. I will love to tell my wife about that or my kids about that.”

“I cried,” Zachary said when asked about having played his final game. “If I was whimpering in regular company, I would feel weird about it. But I was with my guys and I didn’t give a fuck.”

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