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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Men’s Basketball drops two, picks up one

By Natalie Duncombe & Claire Weidman

The Pioneers beat Monmouth 87-75 at home on Wednesday, Feb 8 after losing two road games last weekend to St. Norbert and Ripon, putting a slight dent in their program-best 16-1 start, moving them to 17-3.

“Playing on the road certainly affects us,” said Head Coach David Arseneault ’09. “We just came out flat, didn’t shoot well and dug ourselves a bit of a hole that set the tone for the whole weekend.”

Grinnell shot at a season low 36 percent from the floor and only 28 percent from behind the three-point line in their 96-105 loss against Ripon on Friday, Feb. 3. St. Norbert rallied late in the second half to hand the Pioneers a 96-97 loss the following day.

“It just didn’t have the same feel, energy-wise. We did play better on Saturday against St. Norbert and built ourselves a 15 point lead, and we managed to squander that,” said Coach Arseneault.

“We were disappointed with ourselves,” Captain Matt Skelly ’12 said. “There is a new sense of urgency as far as our approach to practice and these next three games.”

The Pioneers applied their new focus in their 87-75 home win against Monmouth this past Wednesday.

“We certainly didn’t play our best basketball, but it was nice to see the guys grind out a victory. I was particularly happy with the way senior Xander Strek ’12 played. He gave us a boost by knocking down outside shots and sparked us with his unselfish play,” Coach Arseneault wrote in an email to the S&B.

With a record of 17-3, the chances of holding the conference tournament in Darby Gym are slim. Instead, the tournament will most likely be held at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, IL.

“[The losses] will be a good experience for us, because it looks like the conference tournament is going to be on the road too, and hopefully we’ll have learned from the experience,” Skelly said.

“We’ve already beaten the team that likely will be hosting conference in their gym, so that is a nice confidence booster,” Arseneault said. “It’s really nice [playing at Lake Forest].  We get so much support from alums, parents of former players and current students. It’s almost like a home game away from home for us.”

The Pioneers have already secured a place in the Midwest Conference tournament, but they are not taking the final games of the regular season lightly. They finish the season with games against at Illinois College on Feb. 10, and at home against MWC leaders Lake Forest College on Feb. 18.

“Illinois College is a very dangerous team that has caught some unlucky breaks this season. Last time we played them, we had to rally from a 22-point first half deficit,” Arsenault said. “It would be nice to have things heading in the right direction before the conference tournament, and it would be nice to win our last games before the tournament. It is something we are capable of.”

The road to a conference championship will be difficult, but the Pioneers are feeling confident. The team leads the MWC in scoring, averaging 111 points per game. Individual standouts include Griffin Lentsch ’13, averaging 26 points a game, and Patrick Maher ’14, Dominique Bellamy ’13, and Joe Rodgers ’13, averaging almost two steals a game each.

“We’ve beaten Lake Forest at Lake Forest; we’ve beaten Ripon and St. Norbert, which will probably be the other teams in the tournament, so we like our chances,” Lentsch said.

Despite their opponent, the Pioneer’s attitude is the same.

“Regardless of who it is [in the tournament]—who we have to go through—it’s going to be tough. All of those teams will be good, but I still think we feel like it’s our tournament if we want it,” Skelly said.

Conference play will conclude with a game against Lake Forest on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 3 p.m. in Darby Gymnasium.

“We generally have the best student support and the best community support of any team in the conference, which generally goes a long way in helping us,” Arseneault said.

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