2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
PELLA—Central College had to deal with some early season adversity but battled back for a 66-62 men’s basketball win over Graceland University Tuesday night. Guard Miguel Ley (junior, San Antonio, Texas, Judson HS) was 8-for-8 from the free throw line and had 19 points while forward Mark Holan (junior, Fontanelle, Nodaway Valley HS) notched his first career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds as Central improved to 2-0.
But after taking a 24-18 lead midway through the first half, the Dutch lost 6-foot-6 forward Grant Franzen (junior, Waverly, Waverly-Shell Rock HS) to injury, leaving them without one of their top interior defenders. Graceland (2-4) surged ahead 37-32 at halftime, and held the lead until a Loren Liming (junior, Ames, Gilbert HS) lay-in gave Central a 58-57 advantage with 3:08 left. Central hit eight straight free throws in the final 1:08 to seal the win.
“In the first half we didn’t handle adversity very well,” coach Mike Boschee said. “We lost our focus. But in the second half we regained it. We kept working hard and made enough plays to get the win even though we didn’t shoot very well. Good teams are able to make plays to win games and it seemed like we made more plays than they did.”
Central shot just 32.1 percent from the floor while Graceland hit 48.2 percent but the Dutch held a 43-31 rebounding advantage. Forward James Chapline (sophomore, Ogden) and center Zach Cooper (junior, Des Moines, Johnston HS) each had seven boards.
But Boschee said losing Franzen is a blow. His status is uncertain.
“It’s a huge concern,” he said. “He’s become an important part of our team in a very short time.”
The Dutch leave late Wednesday for a weekend in southern California, playing Caltech in Pasedena, Calif. Friday at 9:30 p.m. (Iowa time).
“It will be a fun trip,” Boschee said. “It will be a good chance for the players to know each other better and compete against a good school.”