Welcome to the Grind

Submitted by: Christy Cain - January 28th, 2015


jerryBy Christy Cain

(SANTA BARBARA, Calif.) “This is ‘Grit week’ around the Westmont campus. They are talking about it in chapel and it is a focus in some class discussions. It is a term that is not used often enough in our society,” opened head coach John Moore when talking about Westmont’s 56-52 win over Vanguard (13-9, 5-4 GSAC). “I love grit. Our team has a large amount of grit and they showed it tonight.”

Grit is essentially ones work ethic and toughness of spirit when faced with obstacles and setbacks. It is keeping your nose to the grindstone when situations are hard and nothing is going your way. Ultimately, grit is the perseverance to continually work towards a long term goal, no matter how difficult circumstances become.

Anyone who watched this evening’s game, could see that it the first half was a bit scattered. As coach John Moore explained it, “The team came out of the gate great with Daniel (Carlin) scoring the first eight points and then they just sped up and played way too fast.” By this point in the season, the Westmont men know that in order to win games, they need to play at their level and find a consistent rhythm as a team on the court. The key to doing this is patience. Patience with each other, patience in regards to ball control and patience in knowing that if you take calm, collected shots, sooner or later they will begin to drop.

When you pair patience with persistence, eventually you are going to get a good performance– which is exactly how the second half of this game could be described.

“When I saw the looks on their faces coming out of halftime, I was very confident that we were going to win this game tonight. They had this look of determination and expectation of great things to come in the second half,” explained Moore. The men knew that they were behind 19-28 coming out of halftime, so they stepped on the court and started to make up some ground.

Daniel Carlin was the leader of the pack this evening with 23 points and nine rebounds as the Warriors rallied for a comeback win against the Lions. “Daniel spoke to the team prior to the game tonight,” recollected Moore. “He talked to them in that great Australian accent (that is hard not to appreciate) and told them what he expected from them not only as a teammate, but as a captain. He then went out on the court and backed it up. That is exactly what you want from one of your senior captains. He continues to play some of the best basketball he has in his entire career.”

It became evident early on in this competition that the Warriors were going to need to stop some of the key players on the Lions roster. Who do you call on when you need an exceptional defensive performance? Number 15, Nate Marsing. And as usual, the senior captain surely did not disappoint. “Nate does not get a lot of credit because he does not put up a lot of points, but he had a supreme defensive effort tonight. He is one of the best defensive players in the conference. We have full confidence in his tenacity and ability to go after people,” raved Moore.

Tonight was truly a defenders night. In the second half, the Warriors were able to gain continual possession of the ball due to the strength behind their defense. The men held the Lions to a 22.9 shooting percentage (8 for 35 from the field) which in turn, allowed them to get some points on the board. “We not only had a great defensive performance out of Nate, but out of Hayden (Anderson), Daniel (Carlin) who had four blocks and Sean (Harman) who is continually in the right place at the right time,” said Moore.

As the final 20 minutes of the game began to wind down on the clock, the anticipation in Murchison gymnasium began to build. The Warriors were slowly but surely chipping away at the point barrier that had been built between the two teams. They would sink a basket to get within seven points, and then the Lions would spread the gap back to nine points, just to have the Warriors hit another field goal to get back within seven. But thankfully, as the old saying goes, “A river cuts through a rock not by the strength of the current, but by its persistence.” A  three pointer made by freshman Jerry Karczewski with 9:26 left to play finally gave the Warriors the lead that they had been fighting for. Their persistence paid off.

The momentum shift carried over for the rest of the game.  While Vanguard held the lead one more time in the final minutes, both Blau and Karczewski stepped up to the line and sank some key free throws that gave the Warriors the ultimate 56-52 win.

“Jerry played with a lot of grit tonight. He made some late-in-the-game free throws that we needed to keep us in the lead. He is the kind of player who is expressionless in the best way possible. When he gets knocked down you will never see him look over at the official or get upset. He plays with great poise and he does not get affected by what is happening on the court,” closed out Moore.

The Warriors progress to 15-7 overall and 7-2 in GSAC play. They will be on the road in Irvine this Saturday January 31 as they take on #14 Concordia at 7:30 p.m.