It has been a whirlwind of a week for the Bears men’s basketball team. Last Friday they went head-to-head with #5 Manhattan Christian College (Manhattan, Kans.) on the road, then hosted Baptist Bible College (Springfield, Mo.) the following day and finished with a heated match-up with #6 Dallas Christian College in Haviland on Tuesday night.
At stake on Friday night was first place in the Midwest Christian College Conference. The Bears entered the game 4-0 in the MCCC while Manhattan posted just one loss. Early on the Bears seemed poised and in control, but by the ten minute mark in the first half, the Thunder had simply taken over the game. They roared to an 18 point halftime lead. With their backs against the wall, and their starting five sputtering through the game, the Bears bench provided a timely spark. With just under 9 minutes left in the game, the Bears trailed by just 4. However, the Thunder mounted one last run to push the lead back to double digits and keep the Bears a bay for good, 103-85.
The following day, a cloud of disappointment hung over the Bears following their loss to the Thunder and the Patriots of Baptist Bible jumped all over their opportunity. They connected on multiple 3 pointers and built a double-digit lead before the Bears went on a 20-5 run over the final five minutes of the first half to take a 39-37 lead into the locker room. In the second half, the Bears rode the hot shooting of junior Jay Bradley (Wichita, Kans.). He finished the game with 39 points, highlighted by a Steph Curry like shooting performance from behind the arc (7-11). The Bears would hold on for a much needed 93-84 win. In addition to Bradley’s incredible performance, senior Charles Brodhead (Lompoc, Calif.) recorded yet another double-double on the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Then on Tuesday night, the Bears played their final Southwest Region regular season match against Dallas Christian. The Bears lost at Dallas by 10 in early January, but were ready to make some noise at home. However, the Bears looked lost offensively to start the game and dug themselves a hole before turning things around. Eventually shots started to fall and the Bears defense created some steals and easy transition points to keep pace with the Crusaders. With 3 seconds left in the first half, the Bears had the ball and a 1 point lead. Bradley was inserted with his 3 fouls and junior Cole Hibler (Ponca City, Okla.) was able to find him in the corner for a 3 pointer to build the Bears’ lead to 4 at halftime. With momentum in their favor, the Bears seemed in control most of the second half. The Crusaders physical style of play was kept in check and the Bears cruised to an 85-73 win. It marked the second game in a row that the Bears defense was able to keep their opponents under 40% shooting from the field.
Four Bears scored in double digits led by Bradley’s 19 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Lex Pena (Woodhaven, NY) added a huge 16 points off the bench, sophomore Jay Milton (Paris, Texas) went for 13 points, and Brodhead was one rebound short of his second straight double-double with 12 points and 9 rebounds.
The Bears look to build on their MCCC record with two conference games to close out the week. They will host Faith Baptist Bible College (Ankeny, Iowa) on Thursday night and then meet Emmaus Bible College (Dubuque, Iowa) on Friday night at Manhattan Christian College.