2016 NCAA Div. III tournament qualifier
SIOUX CENTER—The Central College men’s basketball team was downed 98-76 by Dordt College in its Holiday Inn Express Classic finale Saturday evening.
In front of a crowd just shy of 1,000, Dordt (10-1 overall) took its first lead at the 15:22 mark of the first half and never trailed again in the 22-point victory, scoring 49 points in each half. The Defenders shot 50.7 percent from the field (36-of-71), 50.0 percent from behind the 3-point arc (7-of-14) and outscored the Dutch 50-30 in the paint.
“It’s tough to play Dordt on its home floor,” coach Craig Douma said. “The crowd was active and invested in the game. They love basketball up here. It was fun to be back and playing an old rival, but we need to learn from this game and improve moving forward.”
It was a family affair at DeWitt Gymnasium, as Central head coach Craig Douma and cousin and Dordt head coach Ross Douma led the Dutch and Defenders into their first meeting since Dec. 20, 2003, a 77-74 Dordt win at Pella.
“Ross does a great job with this program,” Douma said. “There’s a reason that they are one of the best NAIA programs in the country and he has a lot to do with it.”
Fresh off of its first win over Douma’s alma mater (Northwestern [Iowa]) since 1995 Friday, Central (3-2 overall) limited its turnovers to 12—one fewer than the Defenders—but was outrebounded 49-29 and surrendered 23 offensive boards leading to 30 second chance points.
“Dordt is a really good ball club,” Douma said. “It was very difficult having only one night to prepare for them, because they are solid at every position. They create matchup problems for us and send five players to the glass. They rebounded well and scored off of those rebounds. That was the story of the game.”
The up-and-down season from 3-point range continued for the Dutch, who connected on only 8-of-25 (32.0 percent). It is the third game this season Central has shot 32.0 percent or worse from distance—the team is 1-2 in those occurrences.
“It was one of the best defensive efforts out of Dordt all year,” Douma said. “They were physical, they came after our shooters and kept us off balance. We did not get a lot of good looks tonight and it cost us.”
The silver lining was Central’s play in the second half. After trailing by 20 points at the break (49-29), the Dutch played nearly even over the final 20 minutes (49-47).
“We did a better job sticking with them in the second half, especially the final 10 minutes,” said Douma. “We played well defensively, got some stops and got some scores. It was better, but we still need to improve on both ends of the floor.
“This type of game prepares us for the Iowa Conference. I hope it makes us a better team down the road, because we will see more competition of this caliber. We’re still finding out who we are as a team, but we’re going to do that and we’re going to keep building.”
Guards Sam Markham (freshman, Atlantic), Kevin Kaerwer (senior, El Paso, Texas, John L. Chapin HS) and Nile Eckermann (junior, Cosgrove, Clear Creek Amana HS) each reached double digits with 12, 11 and 10 points, respectively. Kaerwer and Eckermann chipped in three rebounds each, while Kaerwer notched three assists, as well.
Forward Matt Greenfield (senior, Huxley, Ballard HS) and center Spencer Bakerink (senior, Creston) pulled in a team-high five rebounds apiece.
Kyle Lindbergh was the lone player from either team with a double-double, posting game-highs in points (21) and rebounds (10). Dalton Franken chipped in 18 points, while Tyler Wolterstorff added 15.
Central plays its third game of its eight-game road trip Wednesday at 7 p.m. against William Penn (7-4 overall) at Oskaloosa. The Statesmen defeated the Dutch 92-83 at Pella last season. William Penn lost its first four games this season before winning seven straight—including an 84-74 win at Simpson Wednesday—while scoring 106 points or more in three contests.