2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
MONMOUTH, ILL.—The Central College men’s basketball team used stifling defense and efficient offense to outduel Monmouth (Ill.) 74-63 in its season opener Friday night.
The Central defense held the Fighting Scots (0-1 overall) to 63 points on 25-79 shooting (31.6 percent)—including 0-12 from behind the 3-point arc—a welcomed sight after surrendering 74.9 points per game last season.
On the other end of the floor the Dutch (1-0 overall) shot 24-59 (40.7 percent), including 17-34 (50.0 percent) in the first half, and made 15 second-half free throws en route to the double-digit win.
“We did some really good things tonight, but we have some things to work on,” coach Craig Douma said. “They’re inside game was difficult to handle, but we did a good job on the perimeter and contained the pace.”
The quality chances were no doubt a reflection of experience. Central started four seniors and one junior, while the Fighting Scots sport a roster made up of one junior, 15 sophomores and 12 freshmen.
Forward Matt Greenfield (senior, Huxley, Ballard) posted 19 points and eight rebounds and guard Kevin Kaerwer (senior, El Paso, Texas, John L. Chapin HS) tied his career high with 16 points on 6-13 shooting, including 4-9 from behind the 3-point arc. Kaerwer also added six rebounds and four assists.
“Matt played his game,” said Douma. “His inside-out game is tough to guard. They knew who he was and they wanted to stop him, but he got to the foul line and made his free throws.
“Kevin played a great game. He had 13 points in the first half on some tough shots. He got us going and it was great to see that out of our senior point guard.”
Center Spencer Bakerink (senior, Creston) recorded eight points, five rebounds and two blocks, while guard Fred Pratt (senior, Rosenberg, Texas, Lamar Consolidated HS) scored a career high seven points on 2-3 shooting. Forward Yaw Sapon-Amoah (senior, Ghana, Africa, Des Moines Christian HS) chipped in five points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
Nine players scored and played 11 minutes or more, with 10 total seeing time.
“The key to that game was how well we played in transition,” said Douma. “In the first half we played really fast, which gave them problems.
“It was great to see a lot of different guys contribute. We have a lot of options, which makes us tough to defend.”
Monmouth's Ben Friday led all players with 21 points on 10-15 shooting and 13 rebounds. Jon Calhoun chipped in 12 points.
Next up is Central’s home opener against Eureka (Ill.) Wednesday at 7 p.m. Last season the Dutch scored 94 points—its second-highest total all 2012-13—in a 12-point win over the Red Devils. Eureka visits Monmouth in its season opener Saturday at 7 p.m.