MCCC Championship Eludes Bears Again

Last weekend the Barclay College Bears men’s basketball team trekked north to Ankeny, Iowa for the Midwest Christian College Conference tournament. After finishing the MCCC regular season 6-3, the Bears were rewarded #2 seed behind Manhattan Christian College (Manhattan, Kans.), who went undefeated in conference play. The Bears rode a two game winning streak into the tournament and looked like a team that was ready to bring home a conference tournament championship after falling short the previous two years.

Their opening round opponent was Ozark Christian College (Joplin, Mo.). The Bears final regular season game was a double digit win against the Ambassadors less than a week earlier, but Ozark came out hot in this quarterfinal match. They went 7-12 from three point land to keep pace with the Bears. As the half progressed, the Bears held a 28-8 advantage in the paint and went into the locker room with a 47-35 advantage. The opening three minutes of the second half saw the Bears push the lead to 20 points before the Ambassadors shrunk the lead right back to single digits. In the end, the Ambassadors had no answer for the interior presence of the Bears. The 101-86 win propelled the Bears into a semi-final match-up with host Faith Baptist Bible College.

Faith narrowly beat the Bears way back in early January and the loss still seemed fresh. Behind 12 first half threes for the Bears, including six by senior Jay Bradley (Wichita, Kans.), this game was never close. The Bears took a 26 point lead into halftime and then started the second half with another barrage of points thanks to the Bears relentless full court pressure. They forced 24 turnovers and finished the game with a 40-10 advantage from points of turnovers. The 102-64 win set up a rematch from last years championship game with Manhattan.

One year ago it was the Bears who entered the MCCC tournament as the top seed while Manhattan was the #2 seed. The Thunder were able to overpower the Bears that time, and they had swept the Bears during the regular season this year. However, the Bears were riding a four game winning streak and were looking unstoppable offensively during the first two rounds of the tournament. Even though the Bears connected on 45% of their shots in the championship game, the Thunder connected on 50% and forced the Bears into 23 turnovers to repeat as tournament champions, 103-89.

The Bears improved to 11-16 on the season and must win the National Christian College Athletic Association Southwest Region tournament to continue their season. They enter as the #4 seed and will play #5 Dallas Christian College Thursday at 8 pm.