Vikings battle National Champions

Matt Hoh

The men’s basketball team, ranked 20th in the country, did not go down without a fight as it took on the No. 2 ranked team in the country, the Bears of Washington University, in the first round of the division III NCAA tournament on February 27. The Vikings fell 67-65, which would prove to be the closest anyone would come to beating the national champ Bears.
The Vikings started out strong as they built an 11-point lead in the first half; however the Bears were able to take the lead 33-36 by halftime. The lead continued to shift between the two teams until Aaron Thompson of Washington University hit a three-point basket with 14 seconds left to give the bears a lead of two, he finished with 26 points.
Lawrence was led by John Dekker who was 5-7 from behind the arch and poured on 17 points for the Vikings. Seniors Jayce Apelgren with 15 points and nine rebounds, Ryan Kroeger with 13 points and Chris Page with 11 points stepped up in their last collegiate game. Doug Kadison led Lawrence with six assists.
The Vikings, who finish the year with a 19-7 record, received a host of awards. Leading the way for the Vikings as he did all season was Kroeger, who finished for the second straight year as the Midwest Conference Player of the Year and earned All-America honors. Kroeger was the first Lawrence player to post back-to-back player of the year awards. Kroeger was also named to the All-Midwest Region team by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and D3hoops.com.
Also joining Kroeger on the all-conference team were Page and Aplegren, who finished with great seasons. The final award was given to Coach DePagter – he received the Midwest Conference Coach of the Year Award.
The end of the season marks the end of five great Lawrence careers. Kroeger, Kadison, Apelgren, Page and BJ Harry are graduating after four spectacular seasons. The five were able to win the conference title three of their four years at Lawrence, which included three tournament appearances. The Vikings were also part of the top-ranked team in the country just a couple of years ago. A special thanks to these five seniors for all of the great memories.

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