2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
WAVERLY—Wartburg College put on the pressure in the second half, but Central College stifled a comeback effort to secure a 74-63 men’s basketball victory Wednesday night.
The Dutch (9-5 overall, 2-1 conference) came out of the gate with a strong offense and shooting 44.4 percent in the first half. Central led Wartburg (7-7 overall, 1-2 conference) 40-33 at halftime.
“We did very well offensively tonight,” said coach Craig Douma. “We took care of the ball and had some great looks. The team shot the ball well, was very efficient and was taking the right shots at the right time.”
Central increased its shooting percent to a steamy 51.9 percent in the second half, but the Knights found their way back from a 15-point deficit and trailed by just five points.
“At one point in the game, Wartburg came very close to taking the lead,” Douma said. “But our defense stepped up, causing 17 Wartburg turnovers which gave us a lot of opportunities to score.
“It was a great win for the team,” he said. “It was probably the best 40 minutes of basketball we have played yet.”
Forward Matt Greenfield (senior, Huxley, Ballard HS) led the offensive charge with 22 points and had seven of Central’s 39 rebounds. Guard Kevin Kaerwer (senior, El Paso, Texas, John L. Chapin HS) followed with 14 points and four rebounds. Center Spencer Bakerink (senior, Creston) led the rebounding effort with seven rebounds.
“Matt was really great offensively,” said Douma. “He was finding great ways to get open and score. Kevin was very efficient with his shots, and he made a few buckets in tight spots in the second half.”
Forward Colby Taylor (freshman, Creston) had nine points while teammates guard Fred Pratt (senior, Rosenberg, Texas, Lamar Consolidated HS) and forward Yaw Sapon-Amoah (senior, Ghana, Africa, Des Moines Christian HS) each had eight points. Sapon-Amoah also had six rebounds.
“Colby hit a great 3-pointer when Wartburg was closing in,” Douma said. “He hit the shots when we needed him.”
Central has a quick turnaround, playing Loras College (9-5 overall, 2-1 conference) Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 4 p.m. at Dubuque where Douma hopes to see the same team effort.
“Tonight wasn’t just one player who stepped up,” he said. “There were positives all over the board, and I hope to see us continue to make those positive strides.”