Before the final men’s basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Lake Forest College’s home court, both the Lawrence Vikings and the Foresters were 10-7 in the Midwest Conference and tied with Cornell College for third place in the league standings. However, Cornell had successfully seized a victory against Beloit College, pushing Saturday’s game between the Vikings and the Foresters into an elimination match: the winner would take the last spot in the four-team Midwest Conference (MWC) Tournament while the loser’s 2016-2017 season would come to an end. Even though the Vikings had showed their best performance on the court, they still fell to Lake Forest College with the score 55-79.
The match started with a three-pointer and then a 5-0 run in just two minutes by the Foresters to lead the game 8-3. Junior Eric Weiss sunk a clutch three to help the Vikings stop the run. Lake Forest extended their advantage to 18-10 after five minutes of the first half. The margin turned into a double figures at 11:42 when Eric Porter from Lake Forest shot a three-pointer. Despite being behind by fourteen, the Vikings flared up strong with many solid free throw shots to score 10 consecutive points in the next four minutes, including four points by junior Ben Peterson. In the last minutes of the first half, Lawrence missed several layups. Halftime started with Lake Forest leading 45-35.
The Vikings put on a wonderful fighting spirit and went 9-2 at the beginning of the second half, making the match into a seven-point game. Ben Peterson contributed a three-pointer and three consecutive free throws. However, the Vikings’ shooting went cold for the rest of the match, including six consecutive missed three-pointers in the last eight minutes of play. The Foresters exploited these weaknesses and went on an incredible 23-2 run in just seven minutes, bringing their lead to 79-51. Senior Connor Weas left his final mark with a good free throw and a three-pointer in the final minute to stop the run. These efforts could not secure the Vikings a win, which meant this was the final game of 2016-2017 season for the men basketball team. The Vikings placed fifth in the MWC Standings and were eliminated from the tournament.
Over the course of the game, junior Ben Peterson paced the Vikes with 13 points and Weas added nine points. Juniors Evan McLaughlin and Jeremy Stephani came close with seven points each. This is also the last game of seniors Mitch Willer, Connor Weas and Peter Winslow for the Vikings. They have undoubtedly been crucial parts of the Vikings’ basketball team for many seasons. We wish them the best in their journey ahead!
On the same day, the Lawrence women’s basketball team (2-21 Overall, 0-18 MWC) lost 32-90 against Lake Forest (6-17 Overall, 5-13 MWC) in the season finale. The Foresters started the first quarter with a 16-0 run in the first four minutes. A free throw from senior Aubrey Scott helped the Vikes stop the run. Lauren Deveikis and Shonel Benjamin contributed the total four more points to end the first quarter with the score 5-29.
The Lady Vikes’ shooting turned better at the second and third quarter with 14 points and 13 points consecutively. However, that was not enough to combat a strong opponent like Lake Forest. The Lady Foresters extended the lead to 51-14 at the halftime and end the game with 39 more points. Sophomore Leah Reeves finished one layup and a free throw while junior Nicole Cummins had one layup for the Vikings in the final quarter to end the final game of the 2016-2017 season with the score 32-90.
Cummins and Deveikis paced Lawrence with eight points each. Reeves finished with seven points for the Vikings this game. The lady Vikes were placed tenth in the MWC standings this season with 2-12 overall and 0-18 in the Midwest Conference.
Even though the final results of the 2016-2017 season did not go well for either the men’s or women’s basketball teams, they showed a lot of improvement throughout the season. The men’s basketball team, lead by head coach Joel DePagter, nearly made it to the conference tournament, standing in fifth place with only one win fewer than the fourth and third teams, which is an encouraging effort. The 2016-2017 season has come to an end, and now it is time to practice and get ready for the next season!