Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Grinnell jumps on Knox from the get-go, Olivet Nazarene holds off IU South Bend, Jackson (Mich.) CC moves back in Top 25, North Shore HS continues fabulous season

Lots of great stuff to get to in his post, so I won't waste your time with my lame attempts at humor. I will commence with news of those loveable System teams.


The best start in school history continued Tuesday night for the Pioneers, who completely dismantled local and Midwest Conference foe Knox College 128-87. This one got out of hand pretty early, and I had the pleasure of watching it all unfold online.

Grinnell won the opening tip (as an aside, the fact that I mentioned "the opening tip" should let you know just how quickly things got away from the Prairie Fire) and worked the ball to Matt Skelly. He swished a 3-pointer from the right wing 16 seconds into the game, and following a miss by Knox, Skelly made another 3 only 24 seconds after the first one.

A turnover gave Grinnell the ball again, with Marques Valdez converting a layup, and another errant pass by Knox led to a 3 from Brian McManamy. It was 11-0 with 18:47 still left on the clock in the first half, and the Prairie Fire called timeout.

It wasn't much better after that. The Pioneers (16-1, 12-1 MWC) later had leads of 22-4 and 42-10 before going into the break ahead 67-34. That was as close as Knox would get.

Skelly simply took over the game during his early shifts and had 19 points after only 6 minutes of run -- yep, that's right, 19 points in 6 minutes! He finished with 22 points and made six 3-pointers and wasn't even the leading scorer; that title fell to Jesse Ney, who made 10 3s and scored 30 points.

Griffin Lentsch added 23 points and Garrett Nitz came through with 10 points and 10 assists. Skelly did more than score, filling up his stat sheet with five rebounds and four steals. The Pioneers shot 29-of-67 on 3-pointers.

Keep in mind this all was against a conference opponent who knows Grinnell as well as any team in the Midwest Conference, and one which trailed by only one point at the half in the teams' earlier matchup at Knox. The Pioneers eventually pulled away to win 85-68, and there was no way to see this coming.

Grinnell has very little time to celebrate, with a tough back-to-back scheduled on the road this weekend in the MWC. The Pioneers, still tied for first with Lake Forest, are at Ripon on Friday night and then go to St. Norbert on Saturday. Those two teams are tied for third in the conference, four games behind Grinnell and Lake Forest, but should be dangerous on their home floors.

Best of luck to "interim" coach Dave Arseneault and his dad, System creator David, this weekend.


The Tigers were on the road in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference on Tuesday night and came away with a closer-than-expected 88-75 victory over Indiana University-South Bend. ONU (20-3, 4-0 CCAC), which moved up one spot in this week's NAIA Coaches' Poll to 13th, shot only 31.1 percent from the field (including 18.9 percent on 3-pointers) but still managed to hold off the Titans (8-15, 0-4).

Danielle Tolbert led the way with 19 points, three assists, three rebounds and three steals in 16 minutes, and Holly Schacht added 15 points. Denita Phelps posted a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end.

This one was close throughout, even as the home team only led at 2-0 and 4-3 before Tolbert gave the Tigers the lead at 5-4 for good with a jumper 1 minute into the game. Despite the cold shooting, they still dominated in the System stats:

- Attempted 103 shots
- Attempted 53 3-pointers
- Rebounded 45 percent of their misses on offense
- Forced 28 turnovers
- Attempted 33 more shots than IUSB

Coach Doug Porter's team travels to Roosevelt University on Saturday, with game time scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. I'll be rooting for them.


The Jets, coached by Andy Hoaglin, moved back into the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II poll this week at No. 16, the highest ranking in school history. They were 17th back in the second poll early this season.

Jackson still leads all of D-II with a scoring average of 102.5 points and hosts Muskegon on Saturday at 1 p.m. EST. Here's hoping the Jets keep it going.


The Vikings had a great effort Tuesday night in a matchup at home against Conference A-IV rival Island Trees, jumping ahead by 12 after the first quarter and cruising to a 77-48 victory.

Erin Sheerin and Amanda Johansen had 17 points apiece for North Shore, now 13-1 overall and 9-0 in the conference. Island Trees (10-3, 7-2) stayed with the Vikings earlier this season, leading after one quarter before losing 67-55.

North Shore plays at winless Roosevelt on Friday, and I will be cheering for coach Keith Freund's team.

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