Trolls men miss out on CCAC tourney
Even after last week’s 77-73 loss to Judson University, there was hope for Trinity Christian College’s men’s basketball team.
The Trolls needed to beat St. Xavier University, the powerhouse from Chicago’s Mount Greenwood neighborhood, to gain the final berth in this week’s Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament. It was not to be, however.
The Trolls played a tremendous defensive game on Saturday, but failed to get the offense they needed, thanks to the defense played by the NAIA Division II No. 7-ranked Cougars. The outcome, a 70-62 victory for SXU, ended Trinity’s season at 9-21 overall, 5-14 in league play.
The cat-and-mouse affair found the Trolls trailing just 57-53 with 6:26 left, thanks to a pair of Joe Hehir free throws, but that climaxed a comeback from a 14-point deficit. The Cougars ran away from there to put the contest on ice, never letting the lead shrink to less than six points.
Cody Rhorer’s 10 points paced Trinity, but that was trumped by four SXU players in double figures. Jack Krieger and Brad Karp tossed in 16 points apiece, the latter adding 13 rebounds as well.
The matchup with the Cougars was a must-win game for the Trolls because they dropped a road contest last Wednesday to Judson after a fierce battle. In the final three minutes, Trinity pulled to within four points twice, and then to within two on Jared Jones’ basket with 16 seconds to go.
But that was the end of the rally, even though the Trolls’ 47 percent shooting trumped Judson’s 42 percent aim.
Jones led Trinity with 21 points, while Jake Van Den Berg scored 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Ezekiel Odonkor added 10 points.
The Trolls lost six of their last nine games, including their final three, after a midseason rally in which they won four of six. The JV squad went 0-14.
• Statistics: 9-21 overall, 5-14 CCAC, 5-7 home, 4-11 away, 0-3 neutral. Leaders: Jared Jones 17.3 ppg., 28 steals; Jake Van Den Berg, 7.6 rpg.; Evan Pratt 73 assists; Ezekiel Odonkor 23 blocks.
There were glimmers of hope this season, such as an improvement in competitiveness, but in the end the Trolls simply didn’t have enough players who could make a difference when it counted.
Four straight losses to conclude the 2013-14 campaign and nine defeats in the last 10 games sent Trinity to the sidelines with a 7-22 overall record and 3-15 CCAC ledger. Last season, the Trolls won just three games in all, so the trend is up, but it’s a slow climb.
The finale was Saturday’s 61-43 loss to St. Xavier University, a contest Trinity led early. The Trolls were powerless to stop the Cougars, however, when the latter embarked on a scoring splurge that reached 18-2 before Trinity could muster a comprehensive response.
Given that SXU ranks fifth in NAIA Division II, holding it to 61 points was a decent defensive performance. But, as has been the case for two seasons, the Trolls couldn’t shoot straight as they fired away at only a 30 percent clip.
Caitlin Cody’s 15-point showing led Trinity, with Allie Paluchniak’s 13 points next in line and Erynn Schuh’s 11 rebounds pacing the Trolls in that category. Cody added eight boards.
The loss to the Cougars was preceded by a 63-49 defeat at Judson in which Trinity posted its worst shooting of the year -- 19 percent — in a game that, with the Eagles shooting just 30 percent themselves, was there for the taking.
Bad shooting leads to plenty of rebounds, and the Trolls had 47, with Schuh pulling down 12 and Rebecca DeHaan 11. Brooke Bambrick’s 15 points paced Trinity’s scoring.
• Statistics: 7-22 overall, 3-15 CCAC, 3-8 home, 3-12 away, 1-2 neutral. Leaders: Caitlin Cody 13.2 ppg., 8.0 rpg; Allie Paluchniak 58 assists, 36 steals; Brooke Bambrick 21 blocks.
TRACK & FIELD
The numbers continue to get better for Trolls runners.
Last Saturday’s National Christian College Athletic Association Indoor Championship at Olivet Nazarene included a new qualifier for this Saturday’s NAIA meet in Geneva, Ohio, and five more school records, all set by members of Trinity’s women’s team.
The latest national qualifier was mile runner Ashley Jourdan. Her time of 5 minutes, 13.51 seconds placed her fourth in that event and established a program standard in addition to advancing her to Geneva. School records were also registered by Anna Bos in the 5,000-meter run — her clocking of 17:32.61 knocked 30 seconds off the previous standard while she finished second -- the 1,600-relay squad, the distance-medley relay team and Courtney Kalous in the 800.
Kalous finished sixth in the latter race, completing it in 2:21.34, and was also part of both relay units. Justine Van Dyk, Jessica Disselkoen and Jourdan joined Kalous in the distance-medley event, where the quartet recorded a school-best time of 12:31.34, and then Kalous, Jourdan, Van Dyk and Brooke Hamilton teamed up to go 4:10.71 in the 1,600-relay and place 10th.
Andy Reidsma scored the best men’s finish, taking second in the 3,000 in 8:38.36. That clocking put Reidsma under the NAIA standard for the second time this winter.
The season opened in chilly fashion, with the Trolls dropping a doubleheader to Brescia University in Owensboro, Ky., by scores of 6-1 and 14-5.
A second twinbill at Brescia was slated for this past Monday, while a doubleheader with Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind., was canceled in advance because of the weather. If conditions permit, Trinity will play four games against Harris Stowe State in St. Louis beginning Friday.