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Archive for March, 2015

Warriors’ Storybook Run Ends in Finals

March 24th, 2015
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By Christy Cain

(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) Adversity is not a new concept to the Westmont men’s basketball team. It has been said time and time again that this group of men has surprised just about everyone this season. They were not “supposed” to be good. They were not supposed to fight their way up the Golden State Athletic Conference rankings. They were not supposed to make the NAIA National Tournament and they were certainly not supposed to be final contenders for the 2014-15 National crown. And yet tonight, they played on the biggest stage of all. While the bite of a of a 53-71 loss to Dalton State (Ga.) in the championship will hurt for a while, these 15 Warrior men have so much to be proud of.

Tonight, the unseeded Warriors took the court in the final game of the National Tournament against #6 seed Dalton State. While Dalton had a healthy and complete roster, the Warriors were missing a key element on the court. Senior Daniel Carlin came down with flu-like symptoms after Monday night’s victory and was unable to participate in tonight’s game. As any true athlete would do, Carlin warmed up and attempted to play, but about three minutes into the game it became evident that the senior captain would not be fighting for a ring, nor playing in the final game of his career.

“We needed to get off to a good start tonight, especially with Daniel Carlin being ill,” opened John Moore. “With him being on the bench, I knew we really needed to make opportunities for Cory to take lots of shots. But then we started missing shots. When you miss shots in a game like this, it is hard to come back. We didn’t get to keep them on their heels like we had hoped to.”
Dalton State’s Ladaris Green scored the first basket of the game on Daltons first possession. Westmont responded with a 10-2 run, kicked off by a fast break layup by Sean Harman. Over the next three-plus minutes, Cory Blau sank four field goals to account for the rest of the run.

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A Little Bit of March Magic

March 23rd, 2015
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By Christy Cain

(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) The Westmont men’s basketball team certainly had their dancing shoes on this evening as they took the court against top-seeded, fellow Golden State Athletic Conference team Hope International in the semifinal round of the NAIA Men’s National Championship. Thankfully, when the clock struck 0:00, this Cinderella team did not turn into pumpkins. Instead, for the first time in Westmont College history, your men’s basketball team is taking the biggest stage of all to play for a chance at a NAIA National Championship Title.

“First of all, I have to start with Hope International,” opened teary eyed head coach John Moore. “They are an incredible team and we are very fortunate. Every time we took a lead, they came back and made big shot after big shot. They hit a basket at the very end and it looked like it might have won the game for them. But we put the ball in our best mans’ hand and Cory Blau had no hesitation. He buried that shot.”

Coming into this game, the odds were once again stacked against the Westmont men. Hope International has not only owned the GSAC all season, but held the top spot in the NAIA national rankings. They are a squad of great talent with a deep bench. The Royals defeated Westmont both times in regular season conference play and were looking to strike them out for good.

But you know what people always say? It is hard to beat a team three times. And tonight, that proved to be true.

Hope took a quick 2-0 lead eight seconds into the game by sinking a pair of free throws after a foul by Daniel Carlin. To have a notch in the big man’s belt that early on was not ideal, but four minutes later the Warriors were able to tie the game up at 8-8 and never looked back. From there, the Warriors ran a very well balanced and evenly distributed offense all night long. Not only did they move the ball quickly and efficiently all night long, defensively they went after Hope International’s players like their season depended on it.

Because it did.

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Season Ends in Semifinals

March 23rd, 2015
Lauren McCoy

Westmont Women’s Basketball (27-7) saw their season come to an end in the semifinals of the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship. The Warriors fell 77-57 to the Stars of second-ranked Oklahoma City (29-2), the defending national champions.

Despite the loss, Westmont head coach Kirsten Moore was pleased with her team’s performance on the national stage.

“We weren’t looking at tonight as the end,” said Moore, “we wanted to fight tonight and keep it going. But the fact that we are playing in the semifinals says so much about how well we played together. That is what we had even tonight. We played with unity and fight and this team has nothing to hang its head about.

“Oklahoma City is the most talented team in the NAIA,” continued Moore. “We knew that we had a big challenge tonight. I couldn’t be more proud of how my team competed. Every time OK City made a run, we answered, cutting a huge lead to four.”

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Cinderella Made it to The Dance

March 21st, 2015
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By Christy Cain

(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) “The beginning of this season was like the start of a book being written,” opened head Coach John Moore. “I am not sure how many people really believed back then that this team would be playing in the semi-finals of the NAIA National Tournament. But I told our men tonight that we have more chapters to write. We are not done. Our epilogue is yet to come.”

This evening, the Westmont men’s basketball team added yet another chapter to the 2014-15 story that is beginning to look a lot like a fairy tale. The men defeated 13 seeded Mid-America Christian (Okla.) 78-66 in the quarter finals of the NAIA Men’s Basketball National Tournament.

“It’s really, really difficult to get to the semi-finals of this tournament” explained Moore. “I have been there once before and I thought that that was extremely difficult to get to as well. In 1999, the round of eight was particularly challenging for us, just like tonight’s game was for our men.”

After playing two games that have started later than 11 p.m., everyone thought that the timing of tonight’s game would play in the Warrior’s favor. But when the men took the court for tip off, nothing seemed to quite go their way. The Evangels came out of the gate hot and went 15 for 28 from the field and shot 50 percent from the three point line.

Mid America Christian started the game with an 8-0 run and the Warriors struggled to work their way out of the point deficit for the entire first half. They seemed one step behind for most of the first twenty minutes. They were getting good looks, but their shots were not dropping and the Evangles capitalized on their opportunities. By halftime, the Warrior men put themselves back within eight points, with a score of 36-28.

Warriors Advance in Triple-Overtime Thriller

March 21st, 2015
Aysia Shellmire

It took an extra 15 minutes of play, but Westmont (27-6) has advance to the semifinals of the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championships by defeating the Bison of Oklahoma Baptist (27-6) in triple overtime by a score of 83-81.

Across town, Westmont men’s team was competing in the quarterfinals NAIA Men’s Basketball National Championships and just two minutes before the end of the women’s game, the men also advanced by defeated Mid-American Christian by a score of 78-66.

As a result, Westmont has two teams that will play in their respective national tournament semifinals on Monday. Prior to this season, the Warriors had never had both basketball teams win in the first round in the same year.

The women’s quarterfinal was a battle of defensive minded teams from start to finish. Westmont fell behind 7-1 in the first four minutes but a bucket in the paint by Aysia Shellmire sparked a 12-0 run to put Westmont in front 13-7.

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Warriors Defense Shines in Second Round

March 21st, 2015
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By Christy Cain
March 20, 2015

(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) Let’s take a walk down Westmont men’s basketball memory lane for a second. At the beginning of 2014-15 season was a team that was split down the middle with eight returners and eight newcomers. This was a team that was rated seventh out of nine teams in the Golden State Athletic Conference Pre-Season Coaches Poll. This was a team that held a record of 7-6 come January 1 (a month and a half into season). This was a team that took twelve weeks to receive votes in the NAIA National Rankings and thirteen weeks to officially jump into the Top 25. The odds have been stacked against this group of men from day one.

But the best thing about this team, is that they have never cared. And you know what? Tonight, with a 65-61 win over Campbellsville (Ky.), this is a team that has worked their way into the top eight in the country.

“Who would have thought,” marveled head coach John Moore. “Who would have thought after our pitiful performance at Pomona at the beginning of the year that this team, who held a record of 7-6, would be here in the final eight of the NAIA National Tournament. Those fifteen guys in the locker room and our five coaches may be the few people who believed back then. They never had any doubt.”

To say that tonight’s game was exciting would be an understatement. It quite literally had a “David and Goliath” feel to it as the young Warriors took the court against a team stacked full of height (six players over 6-5′) and talent. They fought their way point for point through the first half. With opponents who controlled the key, it was up to our shooters to make some magic tonight. And they did not disappoint.

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Warriors Upset Top Seed

March 21st, 2015
Cora Chan

“We are so hyped right now,” declared sophomore guard Cora Chan after fourth-seeded Westmont (26-6) upset top-seeded Westminster of Utah in the second round of the NAIA Women’s Basketball National Championship.

The Warriors advance to tomorrow’s quarterfinal match-up where they will take on second-seeded Oklahoma Baptist (27-5).

“We came with the mind set of fighting, no matter what,” said Chan. “Even though we were the underdog – they were supposed to beat us by 20 – we didn’t let that affect us. We focused on ourselves and our motto of ‘She before me,’ and played with each other – all together.”

“We knew that we were going to have to fight really hard to beat at team as good as Westminster,” said freshman forward Lauren McCoy who tallied 20 points and 10 rebounds. “They are the number one defensive team and the number one three-point percentage team in the nation. We knew we had to lockdown on their shooters and had to execute our offensive game plan. Even as good as they are, we knew that if we trusted in what we did and what our coaches have set up for us, we were going to get the looks we need.”

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Kansas City Midnight Madness

March 20th, 2015
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By Christy Cain

(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) For the first time in twelve years, Westmont men’s basketball team will be progressing to the second round of the NAIA Men’s National Tournament. After six days of preparation and practices in Kansas City, the men finally tipped off around 11 p.m. this evening against Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)—an hour and a half later than their scheduled tip-off. Tonight the men took the term “Midnight Madness” to a whole new level, defeating the LC State Warriors 77-60.

“We have been here a long time and we have had more than enough time to prepare,” opened head coach John Moore. “Honestly, we could not get this game here soon enough.”

The eagerness of the team was evident from the moment they stepped onto the court tonight. If you are around this group of men long enough, you realize that there is a certain fire in their eyes when they are locked in and ready to play.

Tonight, that fire was unstoppable.

Westmont sank an impressive 15 for 24 (62.5 percent) shots from the field in the first half of the game, five of those coming from beyond the three-point arc. Daniel Carlin made his presence known right off the bat and truly brought the “Thunder from Down Under” in the paint during the first twenty minutes of play. While going up against defenders who were just as tall as him, Carlin fought for good positioning in the key and earned six points and four rebounds in the first half alone.

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