49th Annual Mayor’s Cup preview


Men’s Basketball 

The men’s basketball team is on a three game winning streak coming into this Saturday’s Mayor’s Cup match-up versus cross-town rival Walsh University.

The last time the two faced off on Feb. 2 it ended in a 55-65 loss.

Facing a rival comes with added pressure and a hostile environment.

“One of the biggest challenges of playing at Walsh is the notoriously hostile crowd, but we’ve dealt with crowds like that before so we should be okay,” junior forward Cory Veldhuizensaid.

Junior forward Cory Veldhuizen steps to the free throw line to shoot a pair during the 48th annual Mayor’s Cup on Jan. 19. Veldhuizen has taken over as the leader on the Pioneers offense since Elliot was injured. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

Veldhuizen was recently awarded the GLIAC South Division’s Player of The Week.

This rivalry is more important than being the best in the city; it is for an opportunity for the men’s team to play in the NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) tournament.

“On one hand, this is a very big game because it determines if we make it to the NCCAA tournament” Veldhuizen said.  “We try not to elevate this specific game above others though.”

“This Walsh game is an important game for us.  It will position us fourth alone in the GLIAC south division, we were picked to finish seventh coming into the season” head men’s basketball coach Tim Walker said.  “But this game gives us a chance to play in the NCCAA tournament if we win, so in that perspective, it’s pretty big.”

A lot of obstacles occur when facing Walsh.  The last time they met rebounding was key.

“We have to rebound a lot better and have guys step up, shoot well, as well as make some big shots and we will have a good chance at pulling out the win,” Walker said.

Saturday, March 2  at 1 p.m. at Walsh the men’s team looks to bounce back against Walsh and possibly qualify for the NCCAA tournament.

Women’s Basketball  

The women’s basketball team are in a two game slump, but are looking forward to finishing the season on a positive note this Saturday as they face off against rivals Walsh.

“We’ve lost our last two games, but even so, we are continuing to try and figure the game out at this level,” sophomore forward Sarah Bardall said.

Junior guard Deborah Simmers blows past the Hillsdale opponent in the aforementioned 75-60 win. Simmers will need to get back to her aggressive ways if the Pioneers are to capture a winning season. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

Bardall is viewed as one of the team leaders on and off the court, and plays a major role in the post for the team.

“The key to winning will be taking control of the pace of the game early,” Bardall said.  “We’ll also need to be aggressive, because they are an aggressive team and know how to score.  But the biggest key will be for us to play with confidence.”

The women’s team has been successful this week as far as practice and accomplishing what head women’s basketball coach Jason Mishler wants.

“Our players have to play their role and be aggressive at scoring this week,” Coach Mishler said.  “An important player for us to win is Debbie Simmers.  She’s got to get back to being confident in scoring as well as the team and we should be fine.”

Deborah Simmers is the leading scorer for the team averaging 12.2 points per contest.

Earlier this season the Pioneer women beat Walsh 70-60 and are looking forward to a similar outcome this Saturday as they face off.

The women’s team will play right after the men this Saturday in the Mayor’s Cup at 3 p.m. at Walsh.

Justin Davis is a sports writer for The Aviso AVW.


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