Less than one week ago, the Bears positioned themselves as the #1 seed in the Midwest Christian College Conference tournament. They had already won the regular season outright and they aimed for another banner. They stormed through the first two rounds before running into a buzz saw in the championship game against non other than Manhattan Christian College (Manhattan, Kans.). So after a long week of recovery, preparation, and anticipation, the Bears were back in action Friday night against Arlington Baptist College (Arlington, Texas) in the opening round of the National Christian College Athletic Association Division II Southwest Region Tournament.
Arlington was the only NCCAA Division II team to sweep the Bears during the regular season, but it didn’t seem to phase the Bears one bit. Heading into the contest, the Bears knew they were at home, they had the confidence of winning nine of their last ten games, and they relished the opportunity to move one step closer to qualifying for the national tournament.
Both teams seemed to come out of the gate with some nerves. There were more fouls called than made buckets through large portions of the first half. While the Bears’ two leading scorers on the season were forced to the bench with three fouls apiece, the Patriots racked up extra possessions by pulling down 14 offensive rebounds. When the dust settled, the Patriots seemed in control as they built an eight point cushion by halftime, 45-38.
In the second half, the Bears simply came to life. They were once again forced to their bench because of foul trouble, and the bench responded in a loud way. The Bears, led by freshman Quinton Walker’s (Sulpher Springs, Texas) 26 points, roared past the Patriots and built a six point lead. The Patriots seemed rattled in a large way, but the Bears were unable to add to their lead due to missed opportunities at the foul line. Action went back-and-forth over the closing minutes. In the closing 30 seconds, the Bears found themselves trailing by 3 when Junior Adrian Maloney Jr. (Wichita, Kans.) missed a three pointer and the rebound caromed to the Bears all-time leading scoerer, senior Charles Brodhead, who calmly knocked down his first bucket of the night to send the game to overtime.
Overtime once again came down to the bitter end. With about 41 seconds left, the Bears converted off a set piece to narrow the Patriot lead to 3. All the Bears needed was one more defensive stop and they’d at least have another chance to push the game to a second overtime with a three pointer. This time, however, the Patriots, ran the shot clock all the way down before burying a three pointer to seal the victory, 103-96.
The loss dramatically ended the Bears 2015-16 season and left them wondering “what if?” On the season, they had connected on better than 69% of their free throws collectively, but on this night they were able to shoot just 51% (21-41) from the charity stripe. The Bears final record was 15-15, which included an impressive 9-1 run through the MCCC. It was their first regular season championship since 2010-11.