In Northwest Tech basketball’s second year of existence, they have the program’s first 1,000-point scorer, 35 wins, and recently recorded the school’s first postseason win.
For most new programs, that’s beyond reason to pop open a bottle of celebratory champagne. That is not the case for this Mavericks squad and head coach Jase Herl, fresh off of their 82-73 overtime win at Cloud County Community College on March 1.
“They understand what they’ve accomplished in winning that one game but from what I’ve seen, they are hungry to do more,” Herl said. “There’s no pressure on us. We just have to come out, play the right way, and execute.”
Northwest Tech (19-12) will face top-seeded Independence (21-10) Thursday at Koch Arena in Wichita. Seeing the number one seed in the quarterfinals doesn’t intimidate Herl, who believes the Pirates and Mavericks match up well across the board.
“We are a pretty undersized group and they like to play four guards,” Herl said. “We have a guy at the four like Marcus (Walden) though that can play on the perimeter and down low.”
The Mavs have some offensive firepower of their own to match the Pirates four-guard lineup. Sophomore Gian Clavell (the aforementioned thousand point scorer) has scored at least 18 points in three of the last four contests, and freshman James Sylvester is coming off a career-high 25-point game at Cloud County.
The Pirates come into the quarterfinal matchup averaging 75 points per game. The Mavs boast one of the best scoring defense’s in the region, holding opponents to 65 points per game. Both teams are on a roll at the right time of the year. Independence has won 12 consecutive games and Northwest Tech has won seven of its last eight.
“We definitely have to keep the ball out of the paint and contain the dribble,” Herl said. “They want to dribble and kick. We have to make sure we don’t over-help but we have to make sure we keep the ball in front of us as well.”
Tipoff is schedule for noon mountain time from Koch Arena. Listen live on 102.5 and also streaming online at goodlandsports.com.
–This article was written and compiled by Beau Tiongson. Contributing- Brice Kesler