On Saturday Wabash College Men’s basketball secured their second straight trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament with their North Coast Athletic Conference championship win over Wooster 81-80. Fast forward now to Monday and the Little Giants found out where they’ll head for the opening round of the tournament which begins on Friday. Wabash will make a familiar trip eastward over to Ohio where they will take on University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (21-7) at Case Western Reserve who is the host for the round of 64 and 32.
The Warhawks were champions of the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) and are led in scoring by Trevon Chislom’s 16 points per game. The brother duo of Miles and Delvin Barnstable provide the Warhakws with scoring threats as well with Miles averaging 15.2 a game and Delvin scoring 11.9. Jameer Barker rounds out the double-figure scorers with 10.2 a game.
Following the release of the bracket, Wabash coach Kyle Brumett talked about the chance for his team to yet again play in the tournament.
“It’s always exciting to hear your named called and for the players to live in this moment,” he said. “Wisconsin Whitewater is a very good team and we’re going to have to dig in and do our homework on them. We head to Ohio quite often so that part of our travel will be a little easier. It’s a littler better than traveling 587 miles down to Georgia like we did last year.”
Junior Ahmoni Jones, who hit the game-winning shot against Wooster in the championship game, also noted how at this point his team has to have a one game at a time mentality.
“We have to have that same mind-set that we had last year in the fact we’re going to play our way and play our hearts out every game,” Jones said. “I feel like a lot of people said that coming into this year we weren’t that experienced losing what we did, I feel like they are very experienced because most of us were on that team last year who made the Final Four. If we can have the same focus and mindset before every game that we had last year, we’ll do just fine.”
Jones leads the Little Giants in scoring with 16.1 points peer game followed by sophomore Vinny Buccilla’s 14.3. Edreece Redmond scored 10.7 while Sam Comer sits a 10.4
To say that the Little Giants are battle tested heading into the tournament would be an understatement. 23 of the their 28 games this season have been decided by 10 points or less and their average margin of victory is just 5.3 points.
Brumett added to the notion that his team has been through plenty of wars this season and talked about how that will help his team when the tournament games get tight.
“I don’t think many teams if any in this tournament have been in more close games than us,” he said. “It’s given our guys a lot of tournament preparation in terms of when we’re up having to hit our free-throws to when we’re down having to run and execute sets. Those kinds of things you really can’t simulate in practice that these guys have had live, in-game experience with.”
Wabash fans and the Crawfordsville community made their presence felt during the tournament last year. Jones expects the Little Giant faithful to once again play a part in this year’s tourney.
“I’m excited to see the sea of red again wherever we go,” he said. “They were phenomenal last year wherever we went and I want to continue to see them and it starts in Cleveland. The support that we’ve received from the Wabash community really allows us to push through it all and it will be tremendous to see.”
The winner between Wabash and the Warhawks will play again on Saturday against the winner of host Case Western Reserve (21-3) and Arcadia (15-11).
Tip off from Cleveland is scheduled for 3:50 p.m. and the game can be live streamed at https://athletics.case.edu/sports/mbkb/live
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