Caleb Pollema – Staff Writer
For athletes everywhere, there is nothing quite like the feeling of making it to postseason play. It is a goal that every team begins the year with and only a few teams turn into a reality.
The Dordt men’s basketball team was one of those few. Following a hotly contested 86-84 road win against the Briar Cliff Chargers in Sioux City on February 20, the Defenders clinched the sixth seed in the GPAC Conference Tournament.
With the sixth seed in the tournament, the Defenders hit the road for a midweek matchup against the third seed, the Jamestown Jimmies, in Jamestown, North Dakota, for the opening round of postseason conference play.
“It’s playoff basketball,” said Dordt senior guard, Ben Gesink. “This is always the most fun time of the season as it is either win or go home.”
The Defenders split two games with the Jimmies over the course of the regular season. In their first game of the season, the Defenders fell by a final of 74-91 at Jamestown. However, the Defenders returned the favor when the Jimmies came to visit the DeWitt with an 87-68 lopsided victory of their own.
“We are looking forward to the trip to Jamestown,” Dordt’s head coach, Brian Van Haaften, said. “We like playing there, and we have great appreciation for what Jamestown brings to the table. They have great post play, excellent shooters, and are well coached.”
One of those excellent shooters is sophomore forward Mason Walters. Walters leads the conference in points per game and rebounds per game with an average of 21.5 points per game and 12.1 rebounds per game. He presents a challenge for the Defenders.
“The thing I’m looking forward to the most is getting the opportunity to play against one of the best players in the conference,” said Dordt senior forward, Garrett Franken.
Headed into the matchup, the Defenders knew that it would be a tough task trying to stop Walters and the Jimmies’ offense.
“We need to at least break even in the physicality battle,” Coach Van Haaften said prior to the game, “[We] need to win 50/50 balls and rebound really well.”
“We have a lot of fun on these trips,” Gesink said. “We get to hang out on the bus, watch some movies, and just be with friends for a couple days and play a game we love.”
After their week of preparation, the Defenders took to the court to begin their postseason run.
The first half went back and forth with both teams finding success on the offensive end of the floor. Freshman center Jacob Vis led the Defenders with 11 points and 4 rebounds in the first half of action. Dordt headed into the locker room down 38-41.
The second half was a different story as Walters took over offensively for the Jimmies scoring 18 points in the second half. He would finish the game with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Jamestown ran away with the victory by a final of 68-89.
With the loss, the Defenders’ season comes to a close. For six seniors, it was the final time that they will suit up in a Dordt uniform.
Despite the loss, the Defenders have a lot to be proud of over the past season. They finished the season with an 18-8 record overall and a 13-7 conference record.