Men’s Basketball: North Central hosting Division III tourney game
BY PAUL JOHNSON For Sun-Times Media February 28, 2013 6:02PM
North Central's Landon Gamble was an All-CCIW first team pick, along with teammate Derek Raridon. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
North Central College’s men’s basketball team hasn’t hosted a postseason game since way back in 1990, but the Cardinals get the chance once again Saturday.
The Cardinals received an automatic bid to the Division III Men’s Basketball Championship thanks to its second consecutive CCIW tournament title last week and will host Centre College Saturday at 7 p.m.
And there is no place the Cardinals would rather be than Gregory Arena. The Cardinals are a spotless 13-0 at home this season.
“We haven’t lost yet here, so we’ll be confident coming in on Saturday and hopefully give our students and fans a great game,” North Central senior Derek Raridon said. “It’s really exciting for us players, we don’t have to travel anywhere. It’s great to showcase our school. It’s a great place to be. There’s no better spot than right here in Naperville.”
It has been quite a season for the Cardinals, who established a program record with their 24th win of the season in the CCIW tournament clincher over Augustana. The Cardinals were ranked No. 1 in the nation for two weeks in January before stumbling to Carthage, Illinois Wesleyan and Wheaton over a five-game span.
“We lost those three games and it kind of got everyone’s heads back on track and focused on what we really needed to do, playing together as a team and getting defensive stops,” Derek Raridon said. “That’s what it’s going to be about in the postseason, too.”
North Central, now ranked No. 3 in the latest D3hoops.com national poll, avenged all three of its losses during its current eight-game winning streak and rolls into the postseason with momentum.
“The last part of the conference season going into the conference tournament, I feel like our kids are playing with a lot of confidence,” North Central coach Todd Raridon said.
Derek Raridon has led the way, as he has the majority of his four years at North Central. The Neuqua Valley graduate is averaging 14.7 points per game, only 0.3 above teammate Landon Gamble, yet he was named the CCIW Most Outstanding Player this year. He is 24 points away from passing Steve Hoeft, who graduated 40 years ago, for second place on the all-time scoring list at North Central and has already played more games as a Cardinal than anyone.
He is the third North Central player to win conference Most Outstanding Player honors and only the second to earn four all-conference honors. The first was legendary player and coach Bill Warden from 1951-55.
“I’m happy for Derek because it’s the conference coaches that recognize him,” Todd Raridon said of his son. “That’s special in itself. His numbers don’t fall off the chart at you, but yet they recognize how much value he brings to our team. Derek’s all about winning. The numbers aren’t important to him.”
Gamble joined Raridon on the first team all-conference list, while Vince Kmiec and Aaron Tiknis were named to the third team.
They’re all going to have to be on deck against Centre, a program making its sixth NCAA tournament appearance in seven years. Blake Scinta, a freshman center out of Louisville, leads the Colonels with 12.7 and 5.3 rebounds per game. They also have solid perimeter play from guards Bryon Ellis and Donovan Whiteside and forward Josh Karsner.
“In some cases, they’re a little like us,” Todd Raridon said. “I’m hoping we match up well, without actually playing them before, it’s hard, but they have two freshmen inside that are talented. We’ll have our hands full. And then they have experience out on the perimeter that causes us problems. Defensively, we’re going to have to play at a much higher level than we have been playing.”