2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
PELLA--Central College will have an opportunity to celebrate the first worst-to-first turnaround in Iowa Conference men's basketball history but first the Dutch men and women have a key home doubleheader with Wartburg College in the regular-season finale at Kuyper Gym Saturday afternoon. Free t-shirts to the first 50 students to arrive for both games!
Senior Day--It will be Senior Day for both Central squads as they salute 10 Dutch players--five for each team--who will be making their final regular-season home-court collegiate appearance.
The women's Senior Day contest is at 2 p.m. with the men tipping off at 4 p.m.
Picked to finish last in the league in a preseason poll of conference coaches, Central (18-6 overall, 11-2 conference) clinched its 17th championship Wednesday night, rallying past Luther College in overtime 81-78 at Decorah, while second-place Dubuque was knocked off at Buena Vista, 77-75. Central was part of a three-way tie for last place in the league at 3-11 in an injury-plagued season a year ago. It's the first time in conference history that a team that finished last in the conference has captured the title the following year.
With the crown, the Dutch are also assured of carrying the No. 1 seed into the six-team league tournament next week. Central will get a first-round bye, then play host to the winner of a Tuesday game between the No. 4- and 5-seeded teams. That semifinal game will be played Thursday at 7 p.m. at P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium. If Central wins, the Dutch would also be at home for the tourney final Saturday at 7 p.m.
The tournament champion will receive the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Tournament, which opens March 6. Central's only conference tournament title came in 2010. The Dutch also captured the regular-season crown that year.
Women's squad still in the hunt--With victories in two of its last three games, including a 70-57 win at Luther Wednesday, the Central women's basketball squad (11-13 overall, 3-10 conference) still has a shot at forcing its way into the six-team league tourney. A Dutch win over Wartburg, combined with a Buena Vista loss against Simpson, would create a three-way tie for fifth place. Based on a tiebreaker, Wartburg would get the No. 5 tourney seed in that scenario, with the No. 6 seed coming down to a coin flip between Buena Vista and Central.
The Dutch women, under coach Chelsea Petersen, have recorded the program's highest season victory total since an 11-15 campaign in 2003-004. That was also the last season the Dutch have advanced to the league tourney.