Men’s Bball: champs again

Matt Hoh

The men’s basketball team won the Midwest Conference Championship for the second year in a row and the fifth time in six seasons. With big wins over Beloit and Ripon this past week, the Vikings finished the regular season with a record of 17-6 and share the title with Grinnell College.
Senior B.J. Harry commented on the championship, saying, “We definitely do not take it for granted, winning a conference title. I mean there are many other teams in the conference that would love to have what we have.”
The five seniors Harry, Ryan Kroeger, Doug Kadison, Jayce Apelgren and Chris Page have won the conference three of their four years here. Kroeger commented that this one was special because it is great to go out on top and because “we were able to come back and play great basketball, and win the regular season championship when everybody basically left us for dead.”
Important to the Vikings’ comeback was their current seven-game winning streak. This stretch included the last regular season home game last Wednesday when the Vikings pummeled Beloit 92-68.
With the win, the Vikings created the longest consecutive winning streak in the series history with 15 straight victories. All five of the seniors started the game and accounted for 59 of the team’s points, with top scorers Kadison and Apelgren, who had 16 apiece. Kadison also led the team with 10 assists, while Page pulled down 12 rebounds.
Lawrence’s last win was a dominating performance. The Vikings walked over the rival Ripon Red Hawks 97-75. The Vikings started strong out of the gate, jumping to an 11-2 lead, which dwindled to only one point by halftime.
LU, determined to beat Ripon, came out strong in the second half, scoring 55 points as they shot 70 percent from the floor. Leading the charge were Apelgren, 28 points, and John Dekker, who had 27 points accompanied by his 10 rebounds.
Kadsion also contributed, providing his second game in a row with 10 assists. “I have been blessed to be on a team loaded with shooters, and so I just try and get them the ball in a position to succeed,” Kadison said. Kroeger and Page also had good games, scoring 16 and 15, respectively.
“It was goal No. 1, now we have to accomplish goal No. 2 by winning the conference tournament,” Kadison said. By finishing in a tie with Grinnell, the Vikings received the second seed. Harry was not too worried about the seeding, saying, “I wouldn’t want to play us, that’s for sure.”
The Vikings head down to Grinnell for the conference tournament and fight to move into the Division III playoffs. LU battles Carroll University in the first round Friday, Feb. 27, with the winner moving to the championship game Saturday.
The keys “for us to win this tournament … we need to keep playing intense defense,” Aplegren commented as he referred to the tremendous defense the Vikings have been playing recently. The defense has allowed the team to go on the winning streak and has been clutch when it really matters.
Kadison, looking forward to some big wins, said, “We look forward to cutting down the nets in Grinnell, Iowa.