Jan. 28, 2012
Northwest stays perfect at home, Whiteout Tigers
By David Boyce
The stage was set for a special afternoon for Northwest Missouri State men’s basketball program.
The school gave out 2,000 T-shirts to fans arriving at Bearcat Arena Saturday. The game was televised on MIAA TV, and the men’s team entered the game with a share of first place.
“We felt the hype all week about this game,” Northwest senior Jake Reinders said. “Coming out of that tunnel just gave you chills seeing the crowd and they were loud. That really helped us in our win tonight.”
Once the game started, the Bearcats delivered with an impressive 74-57 victory over Fort Hays State in front of 2,146 boisterous fans.
“I was happy with our execution,” Northwest coach Ben McCollum said. “I thought we really focused on what we needed to do offensively and defensively.”
Senior Kyle Haake got the festivities going with a three-pointer. A few minutes later Dillon Starzl followed with an inside bucket, giving Northwest an early lead.
“We tried to establish the low-post play early and that opens up a lot for the guards,” Reinders said. “The guards made tremendous passes and that helped us underneath the basket. It was a great job by the guards”
A little later, junior Bryston Williams knocked down a trey to give the Bearcats an 8-2.
The game went so well for the Bearcats that the first three scorers for them were not the offensive stars. Those honors belonged to Reinders who finished with 16 and junior Alex Sullivan, who came off the bench and scored 15.
“Alex plays with a lot of heart and soul,” Reinders said. “He is really passionate about the game. We have a unique team. Anybody can step up on any night and have a big game and Alex proved that tonight.”
In essence, the Bearcats turned in their typical performance. They won as a team and it is why they are now 16-3 overall and 10-3 in the MIAA and tied with Central Missouri, which also won Saturday afternoon.
Northwest never trailed against Fort Hays. The Bearcats went into halftime comfortably ahead 34-21.
“We maintained our focus,” Reinders said. “We wanted to keep them in front of us defensively. We didn’t let them have second-chance points.”
Both Reinders and Sullivan were on their way to solid games.
“This is probably one of the most fun games I’ve played this year,” Sullivan said. “I was laid back. I didn’t think too much. I just played the game and enjoyed it.”
Reinders was 3 for 4 from the field for 6 points and Sullivan hit both of his three-pointers and free throws for 8 points in the first half
“Sullivan is just a hustle guy. He just brings it,” McCollum said. “He is so physical and so tough that he changes the dynamic of our team when he comes on the floor.
“Him and DeAngelo Hailey just bring instant energy. That’s a great quality to have. We make huge runs when those two players come in.”
The Bearcats were never threatened in the second half. They maintained a double-digit advantage for most of the second half.
Fort Hays spent the bulk of the second half firing three-pointers. The Tigers made a few.
Northwest countered with Sullivan and Haake. It turned out the Bearcats were more proficient behind the arc than Fort Hays. Northwest went 8 for 17 for 47.1 percent, and Fort Hays was 9 for 22 for 36.7 percent.
“I let the offense come to me because we are a defensive oriented team,” Sullivan said. “Our offense comes from our defense. I learned this year you got to be really unselfish to win games. That’s something our team buys into.
Simply put, it was a very good game for the Bearcats and concluded a great week for them. On Wednesday, Northwest went on the road and won at Washburn, a team like Fort Hays that was trying to catch the first-place Bearcats.
Northwest now has six days off before returning to action next Saturday at Pittsburg State. The Bearcats realize they have not hit their peak. There are things they need to work on.
“We still got a long ways to go as far as getting loose balls and just a few effort plays we can improve on,” McCollum said
For more information, please contact:
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