Mishawaka, IN - The Bethel men's basketball team had to hold tight as the Trojans of Taylor University pushed the Pilots to the final whistle of the 2012-13 Crossroads League Men's Basketball Tournament Championship. The Pilots defeated the Trojans 68-65, enduring a furious final few minutes as Taylor tried to tie up the score and send the game into extra time.
The Trojans came close to tying things up in the final seconds of the game, but were unable to catch the Pilots before time ran out. After 4 lead changes, and 6 tied scores the Pilots emerged at the final whistle with the victory, and claimed their ticket to NAIA National Championship post season play.
The Pilots picked up their 7th Tournament Championship, as well as a automatic bid to this year's NAIA National Championships, hosted by the College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, MO, March 6-12. The Pilots will join regular season champions Indiana Wesleyan in post season play, the Wilcats receiving the automatic bid for their regular season triumph.
Semifinal games ended with a flourish this afternoon, and the final game of the Crossroads League Tournament will be played this Tuesday, February, 26th. The #3 Pilots of Bethel College will face off against a #5 seeded Taylor Trojans in the 2012-13 Championship. The Crossroads League Tournament Champions will receive the league's second automatic bid the NAIA National Championships and will join Regular Season Champions Indiana Wesleyan in national post season play.
Bethel College swept aside the #7 Marian Knights to book their place in the Crossroads League Tournament Championship on Saturday. The #3 Pilots defeated the Knights 72-53, with several players chipping in vital points. Ryan Benner led the Pilots with 15 points, 4 steals and 3 assists, while Zach Miller added 12 points to the Pilots tally. Drew Schuass and Travis Smith also provided offensive support, dropping in 10 and 9 points respectively. The Knights had made a strong showing in the 2012-13 league tournament, dropping the #2 seeded Lancers of Grace College in their opening round game, but were unable to cobble together a second upset against the Pilots.
In Saturday's semifinal round the #5 Trojans tipped off against the #8 seeded Foresters of Huntington. The Foresters were the biggest surprise in this year's semifinal, defeating #1 seed and regular season champions Indiana Wesleyan in their opening round game. Unfortunately for the Foresters the Trojans were in no mood to upset, and pulled away from the Foresters on the back of some strong shooting from senior guard Casey Coons. Coons let the Trojans with 25 points, making 8-12 field goals and 7-9 from the 3 point line, to help defeat Huntington 81-75. Ben Raichel also chipped in important points for the Trojans, ending his afternoon with 21 points, connecting on 4-7 from 3 point land.
Tuesday's Tournament Championship will be hosted by the higher seeded Pilots, and is scheduled for a 7:00pm tip off. The Pilots and Trojans split their regular season games this year, Bethel winning their first meeting 69-68 and dropping the second encounter with the Trojans 79-85. Neither team participated in last seasons NAIA National Championships, both teams ending their seasons in the first two rounds of the 2011-12 tournament.
The opening round of Crossroads League Tournament play was held Wednesday night, and semifinal matchups are now set. Semifinal games will be played Saturday, February 23rd, at 3:00pm. All game will be hosted by the higher seeded team.
#8 Huntington claimed the biggest scalp on the opening day of tournament play, knocking off #1 Indiana Wesleyan with a comfortable 81-69 scoreline. The Foresters will travel to face #5 Taylor, who also posted an upset in their opening round victory over #4 Spring Arbor. The Trojans beat the Cougars 70-62 to book their semifinal spot.
On the other side of the bracket the upsets continued, as #7 Marian dumped Grace out of tournament play, defeating the Lancers 62-54. The Knights will face #3 Bethel in their semifinal game. The Pilots are the only top seed to escape the opening round of play, needing a second half come back to beat #6 Saint Francis 89-73.
Hartford City, IN – The final standings for men's basketball are complete following the conclusion of Saturday's competitions. Indiana Wesleyan has claimed the 2012-13 Crossroads League Regular Season Championship, posting a 14-4 league record. The Wildcats will be the #1 seed in tournament play, and will also represent the Crossroads League in the NAIA National Championships, receiving the league's first automatic bid.
Tournament bracket has been updated following the completion of the first round of play.
The Wildcats of Indiana Wesleyan ended their season with a victory over Goshen College, defeating the Maple Leafs 92-80. The Leafs finish 2012-13 with a 1-17 record, and do not qualify for post season play. The Wildcats claim the #1 seed in tournament play and will open their tournament campaign this coming Wednesday against the #8 seeded Huntington Foresters. The Foresters lost their final game of the year against Spring Arbor, and finish 2012-13 with a 7-11 record.
Bethel College needed a buzzer beater to defeat Marian 69-68 in their final game of the season. The Pilots needed the win to secure the #3 seed for tournament play, and will face the #6 seeded Cougars of Saint Francis. Bethel ends their 2012-13 campaign with a 12-6 record.
In the 3:30 Saturday tip off the Cougars of Saint Francis were able to edge out Mount Vernon by a 77-67 score line and claim the #6 seed for post season play. Saint Francis will meet 3rd seeded Bethel in opening round play.
After dropping their final regular season game to Saint Francis Mount Vernon does not qualify for post season action, and will finish the season with a 3-15 record, placing them in 9th place in the final league standings.
Spring Arbor and Taylor will meet in the #4 v #5 seed match up. The Cougars take the higher seed by virtue of tiebreaker after both squads finished the season with matching 11-7 league records. In head to head competition the tie could not be broken so both teams records against league competition were assessed. Taylor had lost both of their games against top ranked IWU, while the Cougars had picked up two victories against the Wildcats. As the higher seed Spring Arbor will host the Trojans for their opening round meeting.
Grace defeated the Trojans of Taylor in their regular season finale to end the season with a 13-5 league record, giving them the 2nd seed in tournament play. The Lancers will face #7 Marian University, the Knights we be looking to get back to winning after narrowly losing to Bethel in their final regular season game. The Lancers end the regular season with a 13-5 league record, the Knights posted a 8-10 league record for 2012-13.
The Crossroads League Tournament will feature the top 8 teams in the final regular season standings. Teams will compete in a single elimination tournament to determine the 2012-13 Crossroads League Tournament Champion. The tournament champions will also receive an automatic bid to the NAIA National Championships. All tournament games will be hosted by the higher seeded team and are scheduled for a 7:00pm tip off. The opening round of play will be held Wednesday, Feb. 20th. Semifinals will be played on Saturday February 23rd, and the Championship game will be held on Tuesday, February 26th.