Men’s Basketball: North Central repeats as CCIW champs
FROM STAFF REPORTS February 23, 2013 10:02PM
The North Central College men’s basketball team completed a weekend of making itself at home at Illinois Wesleyan University’s Shirk Center on Saturday with a second straight College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) Tournament Championship, fending off a late rally and defeating Augustana College, 70-63.
The Cardinals (24-3) recorded their third win over the Vikings this season and have now tied the Vikings for the most CCIW Tournament championships, each with three.
North Central made a series of runs early to gain a lead after trailing in the opening minutes. A deep three-pointer by Vince Kmiec tied the score at 14-14, and a fast-break layup by Charlie Rosenberg and a basket in the post by Landon Gamble completed a quick 7-0 run that yielded a 18-14 lead.
The Vikings (19-8) tied the contest at 18-18, but inside baskets by Aaron Tiknis, Jack Burchett and Rosenberg nudged North Central in front once again. Augustana rallied and narrowed the gap to 26-24, but the Cardinals closed the half on an 8-0 run, seven points which came on three straight buckets by Derek Raridon, and went into the break with a 34-24 advantage.
Augustana turned up the pressure in the second half and closed the gap to 48-46 with 8:32 to play. Raridon responded once again with a three-pointer from the left wing on a pass out of the post by Burchett, then scored on a pair of jumpers to extend the Cardinals’ lead to 57-50 and prompt a Viking timeout with 5:12 to play.
Burchett scored on a turnaround jumper in the post to increase the lead to 59-50 after play resumed. North Central missed four straight free throws down the stretch to keep the Vikings in contention, and Griffin Pils’ three-pointer with 1:57 to play left the Cardinals with just a 62-59 lead. Raridon fed Gamble for a layup on a pick and roll, then made two free throws, as did Jack Merrithey, inside the final minute to put the game out of reach.
Raridon tied a season high with 23 points on 8 of 11 shooting and was a perfect 3 for 3 from three-point range to lead all scorers. Burchett posted a double-double for the second straight night with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while also adding three assists and two blocked shots. Gamble put up 10 points.
Nic Hoepfner came off the bench to score a game-high 18 points for the Vikings, whose top three scorers were all reserves. Pils totaled 11 poionts and Hunter Hill scored 10.
The Cardinals will receive the CCIW’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship, which begins Saturday. Pairings and first-round host sites will be announced Monday at 11:30 a.m. at ncaa.com .