Mid-January is generally when the Midwest Christian College Conference schedule heats up. With two MCCC road victories just prior to Christmas break already under their belt, the Bears looked to improve on their 2-0 MCCC start. Calvary Bible College (Belton, Mo.) and Ozark Christian College (Joplin, Mo.) would be the first tests for the Bears as they head into the heart of their MCCC schedule.
Friday night, the Bears were hungry for their first win of the spring semester after enduring a daunting Southwest Region schedule. The Bears wasted little time building a lead against Calvary Bible. The Warriors just didn’t seem to have much of an answer for the the Bears’ pressure defense and mass substitutions. By halftime, the Bears held a 46-23 advantage. The second half saw much of the same dominance by the Bears as they cruised to a 95-53 victory to set the stage for an exciting match-up with #10 Ozark Christian for Homecoming on Saturday afternoon.
Last year the Bears were able to beat the Ambassadors the first three times they played before losing to them in the opening round of the regional tournament. Every game was decided in the closing seconds with the largest margin of victory at six, and this year seemed destined for the same thing. Even though the Bears stormed out to an early lead, the Ambassadors methodically narrowed the gap to three at the midway point. In the second half, both teams proved extremely efficient on the offensive end. The lead went back and forth throughout. In the final minutes of the game, the Bears were able to build their lead to six before the Ambassadors knocked down three consecutive three pointers to tie the game at 100 apiece. With less than a minute to go in regulation, junior Jay Bradley (Wichita, Kans.) knocked down a well-contested elbow jumper to give the Bears a lead and then sophomore Key Maloney (Wichita, Kans.) drew the offensive charge to seal the win, 105-100.
In addition to the end of game heroics by Bradley and Maloney, senior Charles Brodhead (Lompoc, Calif.) kept the Bears in stride with the Ambassadors throughout the afternoon. His 33 points and 17 rebounds paced the Bears while Bradley and Junior Cole Hibler (Ponca City, Okla.) also had double digit points.
“It was a complete team effort,” said head coach Royce Bryan. “So many guys filled their roles and made timely big plays in such an incredible back-and-forth game.”
Next up for the Bears (6-11, 4-0) is a date with NAIA Division II Central Christian College in McPherson, Kans. on Tuesday night before resuming MCCC play on Friday in Manhattan, Kans.