29th Annual Tom Byron Classic

Submitted by: Ron Smith - December 28th, 2004

 

Westmont College will host the 29th Tom Byron Classic on December 29-30 at Murchison Gymnasium. Three NCAA Division III teams will join Westmont in the annual event: Lawrence University (Wis.), Lewis and Clark College (Ore.) and Susquehanna University (Penn.).

Tom Byron:
Excellence, intensity, and competition characterize the tournament commemorating one of Westmont’s greatest coaches – Tom Byron. Byron came to Westmont in 1965 as Dean of Men and basketball coach, bringing with him a concern for student rights, academic freedom, and athletic achievement. A graduate of Wheaton College, where he had an outstanding career as a football center, Byron coached his players to their fullest potential.

His 1968-69 squad posted a 16-10 record, and the following year an outstanding 17-10 mark. The 1971-72 season was the last that Tom Byron would ever coach. While battling terminal cancer, he led his team to a 10-game winning streak before losing narrowly to Cal State Northridge. Two weeks later, at the age of 43, Byron succumbed to his illness. The next night, interim coach Ron Mulder and the Warriors dedicated their game against the University of Hawaii to his memory. The fact that the Warriors were facing the nation’s 14th-ranked Division I team, whose record was 16-1, was enough. However, the Westmont quintet fell behind by 16 points and trailed by 11 points at halftime. The Warriors fought back behind Fred DeVaughn’s 34 points and 22 rebounds. In one of the most exciting finishes ever seen in a Santa Barbara athletic contest, Westmont came from behind for a 90-89 victory! The Warriors had paid the greatest tribute they possibly could to their departed coach. It was one of only three losses the fine Hawaii team suffered that year, but just the beginning for the Warriors which went on to win 21 games and the District III championship.

Tom Byron will long be remembered for his sportsmanship, Christian concern for his athletes, and involvement in the lives of students.

Schedule:

  • December 29th:
    • Lewis & Clark vs. Lawrence at 5:30 p.m.
    • Susquenhanna vs. Westmont at 7:30 p.m.
  • December 30th:
    • Consolation Game at 5:00 p.m.
    • Championship Game at 7:00 p.m.

Lawrence University (NCAA Div. III #9) (4-1):
Senior forward Brendan Falls, leads Head Coach John Tharp’s Vikings this season with 13.2 points per game and a .565 (13-25) three-point field goal shooting percentage. Junior forward Chris Braier has dominated the boards for the Vikings, averaging 12.2 rebounds per game while contributing 11.6 points. At guard, seniors Dan Evans and Jason Holinbeck have led the charge recording 9.8 and 8.6 points per game respectively. The Viking attack has been aided by Kyle MacGillis who has come off the bench to record 9.0 point per game. Tharp is in his 12th year at the Lawrence helm and has accumulated a record of 150-92.

The Vikings started the season with a three game winning streak defeating Viterbo (Wis.) 76-59, Wisconsin-Platteville 64-56 and Wisconsin Lutheran 83-48. Lawrence stumbled in their conference opener against Ripon (Wis.) suffering a 72-70 overtime loss. Against Wisconsin-Oshkosh, the Vikings bounced back to claim a 52-46 victory.

Lewis and Clark College (2-3):
In his 25th year as a head coach (17th at Lewis and Clark), Bob Gaillard (432-210) leads an experienced squad which lost only two players from last year. Two six-foot seven-inch forwards lead the offensive attack for the Pioneers. Senior transfer Travis Jones has averaged 22.8 points per game including 19-46 three-pointers (.413) and 5.6 rebounds per game. Junior Tommy Magnuson has tallied 11.8 points per game while pulling down an average of 7.8 boards. At guard, junior Ryan Wells and freshman Thomas Tillery have each averaged 8.4 points per game.

In early season games, the Pioneers defeated Rockhurst (Mo.) 71-66, and won 91-90 in a double overtime game against Cascade (Ore.). However, Lewis and Clark has fallen victim to Holy Names (Calif.) 82-65, Northern Arizona 93-81, and Evergreen State (Wash.) 64-58

Susquehanna University (2-5):
In his seventeenth season, Head Coach Frank Marcinek brings a 218-166 career record to the Tom Byron Classic. The Crusaders are led by senior forwards Bubba Mills (8.0 points and 7.1 rebounds per game) and Rob Dombroski (9.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game). Mills is shooting .519 from the field. Sophomore Chad Lauer has provided the leadership at the guard position recording 11.6 points per game and connecting on 18 of 50 three-point attempts (.360). Also on the roster is junior guard Devon Glover from nearby Hueneme High School in Oxnard, California.

After posting a 2-1 record to start the season with wins over Elmira (N.Y.) 69-48 and Marywood (Penn.) 61-49, the Cavaliers have suffered through a four game losing streak, the last coming against Lycoming (Penn.) 59-76 on December 11th.

Westmont College (6-2):
Senior guard Kyle Bechler leads the Warrior’s scoring attack with 18.6 points per game and a .551 field goal percentage, including a .509 average from beyond the three-point arc (29-57). Forwards Matt Burkholder (senior) and Nick Debban (junior) control the front court having averaged 14.9 and 13.4 points per game respectively. Sophomore guard Luke Allen has come off the bench to contribute 9.5 points per game. Head Coach John Moore (314-192, .621) is in his 17th season (12th at Westmont).

After a pre-season exhibition at the University of Washington, the Warriors lost to NCAA Division I crosstown rival UC Santa Barbara (60-78). A four game winning streak followed with victories over Johnson and Wales (Fla.) 95-65, Holy Names (Calif.) 82-65, Oregon Tech 71-57 and Hope International (Calif.) 89-66. A loss to NAIA #21 Azusa Pacific (Calif.) 78-66 was followed by a victories over California Lutheran 79-58 and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) 77-73.

Tournament Facts:

  • Westmont has won 16 Tom Byron Classic Championships, including the last four.
  • Combined, the four coaches at this year’s Classic have coached for 71 years and have a career record of 1114-660 (.628)
  • The record for most points scored in a single game at the Tom Byron Classic was set in 1991 by Jeff DeLaveaga of California Lutheran when he scored 44 points.
  • The record for most points scored in two games by a team was set by Westmont in 1984 when they scored 193 points in two games.