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The Scarlet & Black

Men’s basketball book their place in MWC Tournament

This+years+co-captains%2CVinny+Curta+19%2C+Griffin+Boehm+19+and+Ky-Sean+Johnson+19.+Photo+by+Andrew+Tucker.
This year’s co-captains,Vinny Curta ’19, Griffin Boehm ’19 and Ky-Sean Johnson ’19. Photo by Andrew Tucker.

Last Saturday, the Grinnell College men’s basketball team won against Monmouth College. The win not only secured the team a place in the Midwest Conference Tournament (MWC), but ended their losing streak against Monmouth.

“Mentally just getting over the hump of knowing that not only could we compete with [Monmouth], but that we could come away with a victory against them was important for the guys,” said Dave Arseneault Jr., the head men’s basketball coach.

“As seniors, we never really beat Monmouth in our entire career here, so it was finally good to take them down,” said Vinny Curta ’19, who is one of three captains.

“It was definitely a bounce-back game too, because [Monmouth] was our first opponent we played coming back from winter break, and we had lost to them by 28 points. To come back and flip that margin, win the game and keep the streak going was really big for us,” said Griffin Boehm ’19, another team captain.

The team has not played in the MWC Tournament since the 2014-15 season, making this win even more meaningful. For the seniors on the team, this will be the first time they will compete in the tournament.

“My dream was to always play in the NCAA Tournament prior to coming to Grinnell, and no team in Grinnell has done that in a really long time, so the first step is obviously you need to make Conference. Then if you win Conference, you go to the NCAA Tournament from there. So it’s just a stepping stone in my greater overarching goal,” Boehm said.

The team has three games left before the MWC Tournament. Their next game is this Saturday at St. Norbert College. This game is important, as it will decide the team’s ranking going into the Tournament and if the game will be held at St. Norbert, who are the current league leaders, or at Grinnell.

“This is a pretty big game in terms of who’s going to get that home court advantage for the Conference Tournament,” Curta said.

Both Curta and Boehm attribute the team’s success to their chemistry and talented first-year class.

“I think this year is pretty special because we have a pretty good first-year class. They’re very talented and they’re producing at a level that first years don’t normally produce at. They’ve made a really big impact on both ends of the floor, from the start of the season,” Curta said.

On the other hand, coach Arseneault believes that strong fourth-year leadership is one of the reasons why this season has been so successful.

“Just the way that [the Captains] have approached everything, everything from the end of last season in terms of the off-season workouts that they’ve been responsible implementing, to the way that they communicate with some of our younger players, and the way that they lead on and off the court.”

No matter where the team places in the rankings for the conference tournament, coach Arseneault is happy with how the season went.

“Win or lose, I’ve just been really proud and excited with how the team has performed this year.”

The Pioneers will end their 2018-2019 regular season campaign against Lake Forest College in Darby Gymnasium on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 3 p.m.

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