Huntington, Ind.— Not only is participating in the NAIA Men’s Division II National Basketball Tournament familiar to the 24-8 Huntington College Foresters, so is its first round opponent. Once again the Foresters will face the 13th-seeded Northwestern College Red Raiders (22-8) in its upcoming first round game, the same Red Raider team that ousted HC from the previous two national championships.
Last season, Northwestern knocked out the Foresters 74-60 in the quarterfinals and went on to win the 2003 national title. In 2002, HC fell 92-80 to the Red Raiders in the round of sixteen. Perhaps, as they say, the third time is the charm.
The defending champion Red Raiders lost several key players to graduation, including the NAIA National Player of the Year and National Tournament MVP. Most of the Forester team members remember at least one of the losses and are anxious for round three.
The two teams will square-off Thursday, March 11, at 6:15 p.m., at the College of the Ozarks in Branson, Mo. The winner of that contest will face the winner of the #4 William Jewell/Maine-Machias game on Friday, March 12 at 6:15 p.m. The tournament will continue throughout the weekend, culminating in the national championship game on Tuesday, March 16, at 8:30 p.m. (All game times are Central Standard Time.)
This year’s Foresters are led by two seniors including Mid-Central Conference (MCC) first-team All-Conference selection, Ryan Thwaits. Thwaits, a native of Syracuse, Ind., leads the way for the Foresters in several statistical categories this season including assists, steals, minutes and rebounds. Thwaits also averages 10.0 points per game for the Foresters.
Senior Derek Yoder, a MCC second-team All-Conference selection, leads the Foresters in scoring with 15.3 points per game. Yoder, from Shipshewana, Ind., has also made 102 treys this season, shooting 47.9% from three-point range.
Chase Verba, a MCC third-team All-Conference selection, contributes 10.3 points per game this season for the Foresters. Verba, a sophomore from Angola, Ind., also averages 5.5 rebounds, leads the team in blocks and ranks second in steals.
Steve Snider, who received MCC honorable mention honors, averages 11.4 points per game. A sophomore from Indianapolis, Ind., Snider also contributes 5.8 rebounds per game for the Foresters.
Rounding out the national tournament Forester squad are Adam Bontreger, a junior from Topeka, Ind., Justin Riegsecker, a junior from Wauseon, Ohio, Trevor Shively, a sophomore from Columbia City, Ind., Kyle Ganton, a freshman from Coldwater, Mich., Seth Lochmueller, a freshman from Fort Wayne, Ind., Chris Blackburn, a junior from Fort Wayne, Ind., Andre Fouda, a junior from Indianapolis, Ind., Jared Yoder, a freshman from Shipshewana, Ind., and James Haifley, a freshman from Fort Wayne, Ind.
For complete team and individual news and statistics of the Forester men’s basketball team, visit www.huntington.edu/athletics. For up-to-date tournament information throughout the championships, visit www.naia.org.
The Huntington College Foresters compete in 14 intercollegiate sports for men and women. In the past seven years, Huntington has produced 45 NAIA All-American honors and 78 All-American Scholar Athlete honors. Huntington College is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 60 academic concentrations. USNews & World Report ranks Huntington among the top comprehensive colleges in the Midwest. Founded in 1897 by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, Huntington College is located on a contemporary, lakeside campus in Huntington, Indiana. The College is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).
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