2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
PELLA—Forward Mark Holan (senior, Fontanelle, Nodaway Valley HS) knocked down six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 24 points as the Central College men’s basketball team continued its hold on the Iowa Conference lead with a 67-57 victory over defending champion Buena Vista.
Central (15-4 overall, 8-2 conference) maintained its one-game lead in the hotly contested league race while Buena Vista (10-9 overall, 6-4 conference) slipped two games off the pace.
While Holan had the hot hand for the Dutch, he also had a team-high eight rebounds. And coach Mike Boschee was equally impressed with his defense.
“Mark was outstanding, both offensively and defensively,” he said. “He’s a guy that takes what the defense gives him. Tonight he had some open looks and he was aggressive. He just plays team basketball.”
Central trailed by as many as seven points in the first half but got a late spark. Buena Vista was up 27-25 and was playing for a final shot, but guard Miguel Ley (senior, San Antonio, Texas, Judson HS) grabbed a rebound with 3 seconds left and raced to the other end where he nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 28-27 halftime lead.
The Dutch went on top to stay early in the second half but couldn’t put Buena Vista away until the final minute. Defenses dominated much of the way, but Central hit 56.0 percent in the second half and outshot Buena Vista for the game 42.4 percent to 36.1 percent.
“Before the game we talked about defense and rebounding being the key to games like this,” Boschee said. “I thought our intensity was very good and our execution was better for the whole game than it’s been in the past. I didn’t feel like we had as many breakdowns.”
Ley finished with 16 points while forward Loren Liming (senior, Ames, Gilbert HS) had 14 points and six boards.
Buena Vista got 19 points from guard Troy Ticknor and 10 points and 15 rebounds from center Wes Nordquist. Central was outrebounded 45-37.
Boschee also cited guard Justin Madsen (senior, Fort Dodge, St. Edmond HS). He was scoreless but had three assists, two blocks and a steal while turning in a steady floor game.
“Justin had only three shots but he defended his tail off,” Boschee said. “And he’s OK with that. He’s playing team basketball.”
Likewise, guard Brock Caves (sophomore, Douds, Van Buren HS) gave Central some valuable minutes off the bench.
“Our bench has really been good all year,” Boschee said. “Brock gave us a nice lift tonight offensively and energy-wise. He brings us some energy that we need at times. We’re fortunate to have the kind of production off the bench.”
Central takes on another league contender when preseason favorite Wartburg visits for a women’s-men’s doubleheader Saturday. The women’s game starts at 2 p.m. in P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium with the men’s game at 4 p.m. The game will be broadcast on KRLS-FM (92.1). The broadcast, Live Stats and a video Webcast can be accessed through the Central athletics Web site at www.central.edu/athletics.
The Dutch were 64-63 winners at Wartburg Dec. 5. Wartburg is 6-4 in the league and 12-7 overall after a 62-52 win over Dubuque Wednesday night.
Much work remains, Boschee emphasized.
“The Iowa Conference season is a 16-game journey and you can’t let up for one moment,” he said. “There are too many good teams in this league. I’m happy with where we are but we’ve got a long way to go.”