Spotted from the crow's nest: Dustin and KC McConnell

“Determination” is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end.” In the case of brother-sister duo, Dustin and KC McConnell, women’s basketball coach Helen Higgs and men’s tennis coach Mike Shanks, as well as teammate Drew Adams, said the McConnells are the living definition of determination and work ethic. Dustin, a junior, is a starter on the men’s basketball team and was named First Team All-Northwest Conference. Dustin plays tennis at No. 5 singles.

KC, a freshman this year, made a name for herself by playing in all 28 basketball games last season, as well as playing No. 3 doubles and No. 6 singles for tennis. KC earned honorable mention for the All-NWC team after this basketball season.

Dustin and KC grew up in Clarkston, Wash., and have been playing sports for as long as they can remember. The McConnells’ parents are physical education teachers in Clarkston. Sports became a central activity around which many family outings revolved, Dustin said.

Greg Moser | Photographer Freshman KC McConnell is a member of the Whitworth women's basketball and women's tennis teams.

“We used to go hit as a family so I’ve had a racket in my hand for quite a while,” KC said. “We’ve always done a million sports; basketball and tennis just kind of stuck.”

When KC began looking at various universities, ultimately her decision was made independently of Dustin, he said.

“I wasn’t going to try to influence her one way or the other,” Dustin said. “I knew how I felt about Whitworth and felt like it would’ve been a great fit for her as well. I wanted it to be her decision.”

The challenge of balancing two collegiate sports is inevitable, but the way the two sports complement each other provides knowledge and skills beyond what one game can teach, both McConnells said.

“Basketball is such a team-oriented sport,” Dustin said. “Tennis has a little more of an individual aspect. I kind of like that, how they complement each other and can help you in both situations.”

Playing two sports keeps things interesting and varied, KC said.

While both McConnells have been successful in basketball and tennis this year, they said there is no competition between them. The siblings are simply proud of each other’s accomplishments, they said.

“She’s done an unbelievable job,” Dustin said. “I think it just has to do with her unbelievable work ethic. She is definitely very deserving of all the success she’s had and I think she’ll continue to do very well.”

Greg Moser | Photographer Junior Dustin McConnell is a member of the Whitworth men's basketball and men's tennis teams.

The good example that Dustin has always set for KC challenges her to get better and better, she said.

“It doesn’t really surprise me that he’s done that well because I see how hard he works,” KC said. “He deserves every bit of it. I’ve never seen somebody work that hard.”

The work ethic that Dustin and KC spoke of about each other was echoed and expanded upon by coaches as well as a teammate and friend. Since coaches are unable to officially orchestrate conditioning workouts, KC has taken it upon herself to make them happen, women’s head basketball coach Helen Higgs said.

“She’s a leader,” Higgs said. “They call her ‘Captain Conditioning’. She’s very focused, very driven.”

Although the extended basketball season interfered with the tennis season and took away from Dustin’s time on the team, his work ethic quickly became obvious, Shanks said.

“He beats some of the guys that have been playing longer just because of his determination,” Shanks said. “His speed around the court and his good determination is what makes [his opponents] press harder than they normally would and then make mistakes.”

Drew Adams, a freshman who also plays both basketball and tennis, grew up in Clarkston and has known the McConnells since birth, he said.

“[The McConnells] are always working,” Adams said. “They’re both really humble; they don’t try to bring themselves any attention which is really cool for how good of athletes they are.”

While both sports’ seasons have come to an end, the McConnells will spend the off-season staying in shape and preparing for next year’s seasons.

Miranda Cloyd

Staff Writer

Contact Miranda Cloyd at mcloyd16@my.whitworth.edu

Whitworth ousted at home in Sweet Sixteen

The Whitworth men’s basketball squad was eliminated from the NCAA Division III Men’s Tournament with a 71-63 loss to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders last Saturday in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. The Pirates end their season with a 26-4 record, including two NCAA Tournament wins and a Northwest Conference Championship. “Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way,” Whitworth head coach Matt Logie said. “They did everything we asked them to. At some point, you aren’t going to make every shot. Give credit to Mary Hardin-Baylor; we came in knowing it would be a battle and a war, and unfortunately we couldn’t close it out.”

The Pirates opened the game with a 10-2 run, fueled by seven points from freshman forward George Valle. But the Crusaders countered with a 10-0 run of their own and led the last 10 minutes of the first half. By halftime, the UMHB lead was stretched to nine in part because of nine points from junior guard James Allen.

Senior forward Mack Larkin releases a shot against the University of Mary  Hardin-Baylor as the crowd looks on last Saturday at the Fieldhouse.  Juliana Zajicek | Photographer

The Crusaders shot 51.9 percent from the field in the first half, compared to their season average per game of 45.2 percent. On the other end of the spectrum, the Pirates shot well below their season average from the field (51.2 percent) and from beyond the arc (39.2 percent), with 34.6 and 31.3 percent, respectively. UMHB outscored the Pirates in the paint 16-2 in the first half. The score was 33-24 at halftime, tying a season-low first half point total for Whitworth.

In the second half, the Crusaders got their lead up to 12 when the Pirates began to make a run. Sparked by a Valle lay-up, the Pirates made up the double-digit deficit with baskets from junior guards Dustin McConnell and Colton McCargar. The game remained close until there was less than a minute left, when the Crusaders sunk six free throws after the Pirates missed their opportunities to seal the game. Allen finished with a game-high 21 points and five rebounds for the Crusaders, while McCargar led the Pirates with 20 points off the bench. McConnell ended the game with 13 points, all of which came in the second half. It was only the second time the Pirates had allowed fewer than 80 points to their opponent and lost this season.

“At times like these, you learn that it’s about a lot more than the game,” Logie said. “I couldn’t be prouder of our effort.”

The Pirates shot better from the field in the second half, but were still almost four percentage points below their season average. Overall, Whitworth shot below their season average marks in field goal, free throw and three-point percentages, while UMHB bettered its season marks in those three shooting categories.

For seniors Wade Gebbers, Mack Larkin and Zach Payne, their careers as Pirates have come to an end.

“I’m lucky to have an experience like Whitworth,” Larkin said. “It’s tough to see the bigger picture right now, but when it’s all said and done there will be nothing but good memories from here.”

Despite ending the night with three points, Gebbers led all players with eight assists in his final game for Whitworth.

“The game is about a lot more than just basketball,” Gebbers said. “It’s great to be a part of a team like this. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to everybody, but we’re all really excited about where our season went. Unfortunately, it ended tonight, but the relationships we have made will not.”

Payne came off the bench for three points, three steals and a pair of rebounds in 20 minutes of action. However, Payne’s line does not give a valid indication of his influence in this game, forcing key turnovers with his hustle to halt a Crusader run and provide fast break opportunities for the Pirates late in the game.

“It’s extremely emotional to take off that jersey and those shoes for the last time,” Payne said. “Right now it’s tough to think positive, but in a couple weeks we’ll be able to look back at the good memories.”

“They’ve meant so much to our program and to me personally as a coach with their leadership, toughness and determination,” Logie said. “I thought all of those things were clearly exhibited tonight although we fell a little bit short. I’m proud of the legacy they will leave for our underclassmen and they should be very proud of what they accomplished at Whitworth.”

Korey Hope Staff Writer Contact Korey Hope at khope16@my.whitworth.edu

Pirates down Eagles for Sweet Sixteen berth

Thanks in part to the hot shooting hand of junior guard Colton McCargar, the Whitworth men’s basketball team advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the 2013 NCAA Division III Men’s Tournament last Saturday, beating Emory University Eagles (Ga.) 86-67 in the Fieldhouse. McCargar led all scorers with a career-high 26 points and four other Pirates finished the game scoring in double digits. The Pirates opened up their scoring  with a lay-up from junior guard Dustin McConnell, followed by a 3-point basket from senior forward Mack Larkin. The Whitworth student section was sitting down in silence until the Bucs reached five points, and proceeded to erupt with cheers and chanting after Larkin’s three. A quick five point lead arose for the Pirates and their offensive pressure increased as the half continued.

“I had no idea about the five-point plan at the beginning of the game,” Larkin said. “It was really cool to be a part of and it’s always nice to get off to a good start.”

Junior guard Dustin McConnell slashes to the hoop for a bucket against Emory as senior forward Mack Larkin and freshman forward George Valle look on.  Beth Crabtree | Photographer

McCargar led the Pirates in the first half with 18 points and didn’t miss a shot, going 7-7 from the field and 4-4 from beyond the arc. The Bucs also played well defensively, forcing six Eagle turnovers and taking a 42-30 lead into the locker room.

The beginning of the second half began much like the first with the Pirates going on a 14-7 run when play resumed. However, Emory resisted and put a full-court press into effect, managing to cut the Pirate lead to 10 with a little over five minutes remaining in the game.

“When a team has their season on the line, they’re going to be physical and strong,” Whitworth head coach Matt Logie said. “I thought we did a good job weathering the storm.”

Things took a turn for the worst for the Eagles when leading scorer, junior forward Jake Davis, was ejected after picking up his second technical foul of the game for landing an elbow on the side of Larkin’s head after a made basket. After Davis headed to the locker room early, McConnell stepped up to the free-throw line for four shots: two for being fouled while driving to the hoop and two for the Davis’ technical foul. After he made all four attempts, McCargar and senior guard Wade Gebbers combined to stretch the Pirate lead back out to 19 points.

McConnell tallied 17 points on 12-12 from the free-throw line, along with four rebounds, a pair of assists, a pair of steals and a block for the game. The Emory Eagles never got back within 18 points of the Bucs, who finished strong for an 86-67 final score.

“We knew that whoever threw the first punch wasn’t going to win the fight,” Logie said. “It was going to be jab after jab and I thought we played very consistent tonight.”

The Pirates shot the ball well throughout the game, racking up a 53.2 percent field goal percentage as compared to their average on the year at 51.1 percent. And from 3-point range, the Pirates exceeded their season average of three-pointers by almost 15 percent, hitting 10 of 19 shots from downtown. McCargar made six of those 10. Also, the Bucs shot well from the free-throw line, making 26 of their 31 attempts on the night. McConnell and Gebbers combined to go 20 for 20 from the charity stripe.

The official attendance count for Saturday’s game was 1,745, which exceeded the maximum capacity for the Fieldhouse for the second time in the last three games at home for the Bucs.

“Playing in front a crowd like that, there’s really nothing like it,” McCargar said.

The Pirates will host Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) in the third-round Sweet Sixteen game on March 16 at 7 p.m. The two teams played once already this season on Nov. 23 in the Whitworth Fieldhouse with the Bucs coming out on top 70-61.

Korey Hope Staff Writer Contact Korey Hope at khope16@my.whitworth.edu

 

Whitworth gets past Redlands in NCAA tournament

The Whitworth men’s basketball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament on Saturday, beating the University of Redlands 75-69 in a closely contested first round game in the Fieldhouse. Senior guard Wade Gebbers and junior guard Colton McCargar each had 21 points in the victory, and two other Pirates finished in double figures. The Pirates will host Emory University from Atlanta, Ga. in the second round on March 9 in the Fieldhouse. “What a great environment to play in, and the NCAA tournament is all about finding ways to advance and we did that tonight," head coach Matt Logie said.

After defeating Whitman last weekend in the Northwest Conference title game, Whitworth jumped from 8th to 6th in the national rankings heading into the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulldogs used the same defensive pressure against Whitworth on Saturday, and forced seven turnovers in the first period while keeping the Pirates well under their season averages from the field and beyond the arc. Aided by 12 points from junior forward Alex Rudd off the bench in the first half, the Bulldogs closed out the half on a 14-2 run to lead 41-35 at the break.

But the Pirates would claw their way back after halftime. After Bulldog junior guard Ricky Peetz hit a three-point bucket to give Redlands a 10-point lead with more than 13 minutes to play, the Bucs got hot, fast. Whitworth stormed back with a 19-2 run, sparked by junior guard Colton McCargar sinking a deep three and followed by consecutive three-point baskets from junior guard Dustin McConnell and senior guard Wade Gebbers.

“As a basketball player and a shooter, that’s one of the best feelings I could ever have,” McCargar said. “And we have had great support from the students all year.”

Junior guard Dustin McConnell shoots a 3-pointer during Saturday's home playoff victory over Redlands.

 

The Bulldogs kept the game close throughout, and found themselves down only three with a minute and a half to play. After freshman forward George Valle drove to the hoop for the Bucs and missed, junior guard/forward Eric Radford secured the rebound for the Bulldogs, and they now had the ball in a one possession game, still very much alive.

But when Radford lifted up his head to find a pass, McCargar snuck right in behind Radford for the steal, giving possession back to the Pirates. And in that possession, McCargar hit a jumper from around the free-throw line to put the Pirates up five with only 55 seconds to play. With solid free-throw shooting, the Bucs hung on for the 75-69 victory.

“Redlands was a tough matchup,” McCargar said. “But that really benefits us and helps us to be better prepared in the future.”

As they say, it’s a game of two halves, and the second could not have been more of an opposite to the first. The Pirates improved their shooting from the field, and hit 50 percent of their three-point attempts in the second half. They also took better care of the ball, registering only three turnovers in the second period while forcing seven from the Bulldogs. Redlands did the opposite; they went from 50 percent shooting from beyond the arc in the first half to 23.1 percent in the second half. Rudd cooled off as well, failing to hit a three-point basket and only registering two points after halftime.

“I’m really proud of our guys for battling back, especially in the second half,” Logie said. “I thought our guys really stepped up when their backs were against the wall.”

For Redlands, it was only the program’s second NCAA Tournament appearance since 1985. The other came just two years ago, when the Bulldogs fell to Chapman University in the first round.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our group of guys,” Redlands head coach Jim Ducey said. “They were a fun group to work with.”

As for the Pirates, they will look to ride this wave of momentum heading into the second round of the national tournament.

“The fact that we were able to come from behind in this game only helps our confidence going forward,” McConnell said.

Whitworth will host Emory University (20-6) from Georgia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament this Saturday, March 9 at 7 p.m. in the Fieldhouse.

Korey Hope

Staff Writer

Contact Korey Hope at khope16@my.whitworth.edu

Whitworth continues NWC tournament dominance at home

The Whitworth men’s basketball team won the Northwest Conference tournament championship last weekend, defeating Lewis & Clark 74-69 on Thursday in the semifinal and Whitman 93-72 on Saturday in the final. It’s the seventh consecutive tournament championship for the Bucs and their ninth in the last 14 NWC tournaments. The Pirates clinched a NCAA Division III Tournament berth with their victory. It will be their seventh straight appearance and their eighth all-time. “It’s a great feeling,” senior guard Wade Gebbers said. “Going to the tournament four years in a row is an awesome feeling for the other seniors and myself, but it never gets old. And every year it’s with a different team, so it’s just as special.”

After losing the season opener to the current No. 1 ranked team in the nation, St. Thomas, Whitworth won 20 straight games and was ranked as high as third at the national level. Despite losing two of their last four regular season games, the Pirates were the favorite heading into the conference tournament.

The Buc’s first matchup was against Lewis & Clark last Thursday in the Whitworth Fieldhouse. The Bucs gained an early lead and found themselves up by 12 points only eight minutes into the game. But the Pioneers weren’t going to go away quietly, and fought back to take the lead with six minutes left in the game. Senior guard Dexter Pearce led the comeback for Lewis & Clark with 19 points and six rebounds, and was five of nine from beyond the arc. Gebbers countered with 22 points and six 3-pointers, which included scoring 11 straight points for the Bucs in the second half, and Whitworth hung on for a 74-69 victory.

“I’ve been working on my shot throughout the week, and once you knock a couple down then you get the confidence to keep going,” Gebbers said.

Freshman forward George Valle also had a strong game, shooting 60 percent from the floor with 16 points, three rebounds, an assist and a block. Valle averages 12.3 points per game this season, making him the second highest scoring freshman in the NWC.

Junior guards Dustin McConnell and Colton McCargar also reached double-digits in scoring on the night, with 13 and 14 points, respectively. McConnell also added seven rebounds, six assists and a steal.

The Whitman Missionaries beat George Fox University 90-78 at home in the other NWC semifinal, setting up a “Battle of the Whits,” as it was commonly referred, in the Whitworth Fieldhouse Saturday. Whitman and George Fox both beat the Pirates in the regular season, and Whitman took the Bucs to overtime in both matchups during the year. Because of that, many anticipated a closely contested game to decide the NWC tournament champions.

The Pirates had other ideas. After controlling the tip, McConnell found senior forward Mack Larkin in 3-point range and Larkin drained it.

A few minutes later, sophomore center Taylor Farnsworth restored Whitworth’s early lead with a pair of free throws, and the Bucs never looked back. Sixteen first-half points from Larkin, as well as Gebbers making all four of his 3-point attempts, helped the Pirates build a 21-point lead at the break. McCargar was also in double-digits by halftime, with 10 points and four rebounds in only 15 minutes off the bench.

 

The Bucs relied on quick and accurate ball movement throughout the game to counter Whitman’s heavy defensive pressure. Early in the first half, the Pioneers moved into a full-court press and forced two turnovers from the Pirates. But Whitworth settled down and didn’t turn the ball over again until they had a 15-point lead late in the first half. Because of their high-pressure defense, Whitman forced an average of 22.3 turnovers per game heading into this championship matchup. Whitworth only turned the ball over eight times compared to Whitman’s 11. The Pirates also stacked the assists column with their ball movement, racking up 16 by halftime, which bettered their season average for an entire game by three.

“We spend the week preparing for Whitman’s pressure since we didn’t handle it very well last time,” McCargar said. “And we were able to break their press and keep our composure throughout the entire night.”

Poor shooting from the Missionaries also assisted the Pirates. Whitman shot 27.6 percent from the field in the first half and only 38.2 percent for the game. They also did not make a 3-pointer until there were 10 seconds left in the game, and went one for 15 from downtown on the night (6.7 percent).

The second half was much of the same story for both teams. Despite attempting only six 3-pointers and making none of them in the second half, the Bucs still maintained a lead of at least 19 points throughout. They scored 32 of their 40 second-half points in the paint that included the final two at the buzzer, courtesy of a two-handed dunk from freshman forward Brandon Loiler to cap the championship for the Pirates, much to the excitement of the Whitworth students.

Larkin led the Pirates with a career-high 22 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two assists. Gebbers added 16 points, bringing his NWC Tournament total to 38 in just two games. McCargar also had another solid night with 15 points, seven rebounds and a pair of assists in 30 minutes off the bench.

“We’re playing our best ball right now all around,” McCargar said. “And there’s no better time to be doing that than when it matters the most.”

Despite a large margin of victory, nearly all of the 1,765 people in the Fieldhouse (which has a maximum capacity of 1,650) stayed through the end of the game to watch the trophy ceremony and the Pirate squad and coaching staff do the traditional cutting of the nets.

The next step for the Pirates is the NCAA Division III tournament.

The field for the tournament was announced on Monday at 9:30 a.m., check whitworthpirates.com to see when and where the Bucs will play in their opening round game.

Korey Hope

Staff Writer

Contact Korey Hope at khope16@my.whitworth.edu

Men's basketball clinches NWC title

The Whitworth men’s basketball team clinched its fourth straight outright Northwest Conference title last Friday in the second-to-last game of the year, with an 86-53 win over the Linfield Wildcats in McMinnville, Ore. The Bucs also collected an 86-67 victory against the Willamette Bearcats on Saturday to finish the regular season at 22-3 overall (14-2 NWC). The regular season title for the Pirates reserved a spot in the NWC record book. It was the second time in NWC history that a men’s basketball program had won four straight outright conference titles. Whitman College was the only other program to accomplish that feat, during the 1927-1930 seasons.

“Our guys have really bought into who we are as a team,” head coach Matt Logie said. “A lot of guys have stepped up throughout the year. It’s a great accomplishment.”

The Bucs jumped out to a 13-0 lead on Friday, keeping Linfield scoreless for almost the first eight minutes of the game. The Wildcats eventually heated up and pulled to within six, but it was as close as they could get to the Pirates, who ran away with it in the second half.

Not only was it a record day for the Bucs and the NWC, but also for freshman guard George Valle, who finished the night with a career-high 30 points on 14 of 22 shooting from the floor in only 24 minutes of play.

“They put an undersized player on me most of the game so I was able to use my size to my advantage,” Valle said. “And everything from long range was falling for me which really opens up the floor.”

Valle has averaged 12.4 points per game this season, ranking second on the team behind junior guard Dustin McConnell. McConnell also packed the stat sheet last weekend with 26 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists and three steals for both games combined.

With the outright conference title locked up, Saturday’s game didn’t have as much at stake as other regular season games. However, the Pirate’s approach to the game was unchanged.

“We really wanted to build momentum going into the postseason,” Logie said. “And I thought our guys came out and played well.”

Junior guard Colton McCargar led the Pirates with 20 points, after getting the start for only the third time all season. McCargar averaged 11 points per game off the bench this year, and 13.3 points per game as a starter.

“I got off to a good start and that gave me confidence for the rest of the night,” McCargar said.

And it wasn’t just McCargar who got off to a good start. The Bucs built an early lead again and found themselves up by 14 less than nine minutes into the game. The Pirates didn’t allow their opponent anywhere near the lead, and never trailed for the second game in a row.

Moving forward, the team is confident heading into postseason play.

“We have a tough couple of games to start conference playoffs against teams who have challenged us earlier this season,” Valle said. “There is no easy way to get to the NCAA tournament.”

Despite the tough competition, the team is peaking at the right time and carries a lot of postseason experience, Logie said.

The Bucs begin the NWC tournament against Lewis and Clark this Thursday, Feb. 21 in the Fieldhouse. If victorious, the championship game will be this Saturday, Feb. 23, also in the Fieldhouse.

 

Korey Hope

Staff Writer

Contact Korey Hope at khope16@my.whitworth.edu

Spotted from the Crow's Nest: Wade Gebbers, men's basketball

He may be fairly quiet and reserved, but as captain of the Whitworth men’s basketball team, senior Wade Gebbers may be one of the most respected people on the Whitworth campus. He is, as head men’s basketball coach Matt Logie put it, “our old wily vet on the team.”  And while he has become a role model for his teammates, has maintained strong academics, and begins to start a family of his own, he maintains a maturity beyond his years.

The Gebbers name has a legacy of its own.  It’s hard to be exposed to basketball circles in Washington without hearing the Gebbers name mentioned.  In his sophomore year at Whitworth, Wade was starting alongside his brother, Clay Gebbers, and his cousin Michael Taylor, who went on to become the NCAA Division III National Player of the Year.

“I come from a pretty small town,” Gebbers said.  “Even though we come from a pretty humble family, [Brewster] is now referred to sometimes as ‘Gebbers nation.’”

Now a senior, Gebbers has taken more of a leadership role.

“I used to be more of a distributor, and I still try to do that as a point guard,” Gebbers said. “But I have more responsibility now to make myself and the team better.”

His teammates, however, admire him for his character.

“He leads by example,” junior guard Dustin McConnell said.  “He doesn’t just talk a lot.”

“When we’re on the court, it’s his leadership that gets to you,” freshman guard George Valle said.  “He’ll look you in the eyes during a timeout and say, ‘We need you to score here,’ and you’ll really want to do it.’”

Gebbers’ passion for helping his teammates is almost equalled to his competitive attitude.

“I want to win,” Gebbers said. “But my main focus is to win while doing the right things, like helping my teammates out.”

Logie can tell that much is obvious.

“He’s got that sense for the moment; he’s not afraid of big shots, while he’s also as selfless a player as I’ve ever seen,” Logie said. “It’s a difficult balance.”

While his personality is obvious to those who have known him for so long, the first impressions some of his teammates have of him are a different story.

“There was this game against George Fox,” McConnell said. “And all of a sudden, he just went off for like 20 points in the second half.  That was the first time I thought that, ‘Geez, this guy is good.’”

Valle said his first impression came on his recruiting visit, early last year.

“I was there for a visit and Logie was introducing me to the team right before an open gym practice.  Wade is standing to Logie’s right, but as Logie goes around the circle, he forgets to give Wade an introduction.  He’s sitting there with his glasses on, all quiet and reserved, looking kind of nerdy,” Valle said.

This was only the beginning though, as Valle soon found out. “I’m thinking, ‘Who is this guy?’” Valle said.  “He must be some kind of joke if the coach forgets to introduce him.  I got matched up with him right off and I thought the guys were matching me up with one of the weaker players on the team, being nice to the recruit.  Next thing I know, he’s just lighting me up from all over the place.”

Gebbers might lead one of the most unconventional lives of any athlete at Whitworth.  After getting married in August of this past year, Gebbers is expecting a baby girl in February.

Although his somewhat unorthodox college life is different in comparison to those on the team, Gebbers says that it’s nothing new.

“I’ve never had the same routine as other guys, especially now,” Gebbers said.  “We’ll be in the locker room and guys will be talking about their weekends and what movie they’re going to see that night.  When they end up asking me what my plans are for the evening, I end up telling them that I’m hanging out with my wife and she’s making dinner.  They tell me I’m an old man,” Gebbers said, laughing.

While his early life decisions may fill up his busy life even more, his teammates know that he made them on his own terms.

“He was ready to make that choice to start a family, and I really admire him for that,” McConnell said.

At the same time, Gebbers said that he still wants to be competitive in basketball and pass some of his lessons on to the next generation of Pirate basketball players.

“Above winning, above highlights, what has been most satisfying to me is being a team player,” Gebbers said.  “I want them to enjoy this experience while they have it and understand how special it is to be here.  We’re doing this for each other.”

Connor Soudani Staff Writer

Contact Connor Soudani at csoudani16@my.whitworth.edu.

 

Pirate men fall in home opener

The 11th-ranked University of St. Thomas Tommies pulled out a win over 14th-ranked Whitworth University last Saturday to win 70-65 despite a late rally from Whitworth.  The Pirates were down by as much as 14 at several points during the game, but battled back to cut the deficit to three twice during the final minute of play.

Senior Wade Gebbers led Whitworth with a game-high 23 points, and junior Dustin McConnell finished with 10.  Free throws were a weak point for Whitworth down the stretch, shooting only 15-23 from the line (65%), while the Tommies finished 21-25 from the line (84%).

This is the first home game opener the Pirates have lost since 1978 when they fell to Gonzaga University.  Whitworth will host Mary Hardin-Baylor at the Fieldhouse on November 23 at 3pm where the Pirates will look for their first win of the season.

Connor Soudani Staff Writer

Contact Connor Soudani at csoudani16@my.whitworth.edu.

YouTube school spirit video highlights Midnight Madness event

The Bucs kicked off the basketball season with Midnight Madness on Nov. 13.

Students were invited to meet both the men’s and women’s teams as well as participate in activities like a three-point contest and scavenger hunt. Prizes included cash and pizzas. Students also got the opportunity to learn Whitworth’s famous interlude dance.

“There was a lot of energy; I thought it was a great way to kick off the basketball season,” freshman Bailey Stevens said. “It was cool to introduce the teams and see what they’re all about.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams were introduced to the Whitworth community.

“My favorite part was probably running out in front of everyone, it was cool because everyone was cheering and was excited,” freshman power forward Briann Maley said.

Maley said that the turn out to midnight madness shows that the campus is behind the team as they start the season.

Both teams get pumped up thanks to midnight madness.

“Our players really feed off of our fans at home games and midnight madness is one of the biggest crowds that we get and I think that just excites our players to know that the student body supports them so well and is looking forward to the season as well,”men’s basketball head coach Matt Logie said.

The big event of the night was the premier of the “We are Pirates” music video created by Whitworth students junior Cody DeJardin, junior Peter Delap, senior Shannon Winant, junior Jesse Salzwedel and senior Drew Goranson. The viral hit featured all of Whitworth’s sports and almost all of the teams actually participated in the video.

“They wanted to contribute, but they also wanted to see themselves in the video so it was cool that they wanted to participate and were participating willingly,” Salzwedel said.

The video has over 10,000 hits on YouTube and was also featured on a local news station.

The guys said that the goal was to unite the Whitworth community behind its athletics as well as increasing fan identity so people would be more supportive towards all of the sports teams, not just basketball.

“The goal was to unite all of Whitworth, all of students, faculty, staff, alumni, the greater community. Unite them towards the athletic program like letting them know that athletes are real people too they’re not separate,” Winant said. “Midnight Madness kicks off the season for the basketball teams at Whitworth and the video has created a fan identity that has the campus excited to be Pirates.

“I feel like it’s been a blessing just to be a part of it,” Delap said. “Obviously we have the best school in the nation as far as fan support.”

Whitney Carter Staff Writer

Contact Whitney Carter at wcarter16@my.whitworth.edu.

Whitworth men’s basketball gets first win

The Whitworth men’s basketball team picked up its  first win of the season last Friday against Mary Hardin Baylor.  After hanging on to a 26-24 lead at the half, the Pirates pulled ahead by 10 to make it 62-52 with 3:23 left in the game, and never looked back.  While Crusaders made a few runs towards the end, Whitworth never let them get closer than five as they finished with the final score  70-61. Junior Dustin McConnell was the leading scorer for Whitworth, putting up a career-high 18 points, including a number of pivotal free throws down the stretch.  Junior Colton McCargar also had a crucial outing hitting a number of 3-pointers to finish with 13.  Senior Mack Larkin and freshman George Valle had strong performances as well, both finishing with 12.

Whitworth improved its free throw performance after, shooting 15-23 against St. Thomas and 11-16 against Idaho State.  Free throws were not a problem for the Pirates this time around, shooting 13-15 from the line.

The Whitworth men will play Montana Tech on November 28th in its first road game of the regular season.

Connor Soudani Staff Writer

Contact Connor Soudani at csoudani16@my.whitworth.edu.

Campus Connection: Michael Taylor

Former Division III Player of Year continues basketball career in Germany

2011 Whitworth graduate Michael Taylor has taken the success of his basketball career and carried it with him to Oldenburg, Germany, where he now plays professionally.

The summer after his graduation, Taylor moved to Germany with his wife Taylor Taylor, also a Whitworth graduate, and played on a team from Oldenburg in the Regionalliga league. After winning the league his team was moved up to the second Bundesliga league in the ProB division, which Taylor said is the minor leagues of basketball in Europe.

Taylor had a strong connection to Whitworth before he attended the school. He started going to open gyms at Whitworth in eighth grade and was there almost every year of high school. He also had cousins attending Whitworth when he transferred from University of Montana in 2010.

“I didn’t think I was ever going to get to play with him competitively again so when he decided to transfer it was very exciting for me just knowing that I was going to be able to play one more season with him,” Taylor’s cousin and current senior basketball player Wade Gebbers said.

In his senior year, Taylor helped lead Whitworth to the conference title as well as an appearance in the Elite Eight. Taylor was also named Division III Men’s Player of the Year in 2011.

“Anytime you can play with somebody like that it makes everybody else on the team better,” Gebbers said. “He showed me things that helped me improve and he helped everybody else on the team improve.”

In Taylor’s senior year, a coach from Oldenburg saw him play and spoke to Jim Hayford, who was the head men’s basketball coach at Whitworth in 2011 and is now the head men’s basketball coach at Eastern Washington University, about using his connections to help Taylor play overseas.  A few months later he was on his way to Europe.

“I can remember when he was a junior higher and he would come up and play with our guys at summer camps,” Hayford said. “You could just tell he was going to be really really good.”

When Michael first got to Germany he had to quickly adjust to the style of play in his new league and to the rule changes, such as a quicker shot clock, a bigger key and the three-point line that is farther back.

“It’s very physical in that there’s a lot of fouls but there’s so many that a lot don’t get called so you have to really learn to play through things both on offense and defense,” Taylor said. “Coach Hayford scheduled really good non-conference games, and Whitworth plays in a really good conference  so you’re competing at a high level every night so it’s very similar in that sense.”

Michael and Taylor also had big adjustments to make just in their lifestyle.

“We’re just stuck right in the middle and we’re really close to the city center, but we lucked out in the fact that it has a really small town feel — people ride bikes everywhere and they’re really nice and they understand that this is a new place for us and they’re very accommodating,” Taylor said.

With practice at night and games once a week, the Taylors spend a lot of time with each other watching English television on Hulu and Netflix and going on walks during the day, recently with their new puppy Bogart, an English cream golden retriever.

“I got to spend the day and evening with him and Taylor and saw the home they had made for themselves in Germany and they were just thriving as I knew they would,” Hayford said.

Taylor also spends time with his team’s youth league, which he said is similar to high school basketball, watching them practice and talking to the kids in English about college and where he’s from.

“At Whitworth they take importance on communicating with people and creating contacts and just talking to the person next to you — you get to know who they are or where they went or where they’re from and that’s exactly what you have to do here,” Taylor said.

Taylor stays in contact with his old coaches and family in the United States, but Taylor said he and his wife have stayed busy and made connections with a lot of people in their new home already despite a small language barrier.

“He’s just the perfect example of what a great Whitworth student is and a great example of what a Whitworth person is and a great example of Whitworth athletes,” Hayford said. “He sets the bar high in every area.”

Megan John Staff Writer

Contact Megan John at mjohn16@my.whitworth.edu.

Basketball gives tough test to Idaho State The Division I Idaho State Bengals defeated the Division III Whitworth men’s basketball team on Nov. 6 after a back-and-forth game.

The Bengals led the Pirates after the first half 40-35, and for much of the second half.  However, Whitworth rallied and junior guard Dustin McConnell’s three-point attempt at the end of the end of regulation bounced off the back iron to give Idaho State a 68-65 win over Whitworth.

McConnell and freshman guard George Valle led the Pirates, scoring 15 points each.  McConnell also added five rebounds.  Sophomore forward Taylor Farnsworth also contributed 12 points and 5 rebounds for the Pirates.

The Pirates will play next against the University of St. Thomas, at the Whitworth Fieldhouse on Nov. 17.

Swimming continues hot start to season

Both the Whitworth men’s and women’s swim teams remain undefeated after winning their first four meets.

The Pirates won every event Nov. 2 against Willamette. Sophomore Samantha Smith led the Pirates, winning two events with a time of 1:00.14 in the 100-yard butterfly and 1:08.60 in in the 100-yard breaststroke.

The men had two double event winners in  Aaron Vaccaro, who won the the 50 free in 22.18 and the 100 butterfly in 52.31, and  Mitchell Beck, who won the the 200 freestyle in 1:47.56 and the 100 freestyle in 49.60.

Nov. 3 matched up the Bucs against Linfield at home. The men won all 10 races and the women won 10 of the 11 races.

Nov. 9, the Pirates faced Pacific University on the road. Freshman Kori Carpenter won both the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:58.43 and the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 55.31.

The next day the Bucs faced Lewis & Clark, also on the road.  Smith got the fastest time in the 200-yard butterfly so far this season, winning it in 2:15.19. The men won eight out of the 11 events.  Vaccaro  dominated again, swimming in the relay as well as winning the 50-yard freestyle in 22.12 and the 100-yard backstroke in 54.73.

The Pirates are now 4-0. Their next race is the Northwest Invitational on Nov. 17 at Whitman College.

Football ends season on high note

On a biting Nov. 10 afternoon at the Pine Bowl, the Whitworth football team put up more than 500 yards of offense to take down the Pioneers of Lewis & Clark 37- 20 in their final game of the 2012 season.

Junior running back DJ Tripoli had a 19-yard run into the end zone to give the Bucs the early lead.

Senior running back and team captain Ronnie Thomas exploded in the second half for the Bucs. He carried the ball across the goal line for the 11th and 12th times this season in the third and fourth quarters to give Whitworth a 23-12 lead. Less than a minute after Thomas’ second touchdown, sophomore defensive back De’ Hall intercepted a Lewis & Clark pass and ran it back 65 yards to put another seven on the board for Whitworth.

Thomas finished the game with 251 yards rushing   and three touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Bryan Peterson threw for 159 yards on the day and rushed for nearly 100. Senior linebacker and team captain Scott Carr led the defense with seven tackles.

Whitworth (7-3 overall, 3-3 NWC) finishes the season fourth in the NWC.

Whitworthian Sports Staff

Alumni edge whitworth men’s basketball team

The Whitworth men’s basketball team took part in a game against Whitworth alumni basketball players last Friday.  The game proved to be a close one as the Whitworth men were tied with the Alumni 82-82 at the end of regulation.  Through five minutes of overtime, the Alumni took control and beat the Whitworth men 96-91.  Sophomore post Taylor Farnsworth led the Pirates with 16 points followed by junior guard Dustin McConnell with 15 and freshman guard George Valle with 14.

The men are ranked 14th nationally in the  D3hoops.com preseason men’s basketball poll. The Pirates will look for new contributions this season after the loss of All-Northwest Conference post Felix Friedt, All-NWC forward Idris Lasisi, along with forward Jack Loofburrow and post Michael Taylor.

The Pirates will begin their next matchup on Nov. 6 when they play Idaho State in Pocatello, Idaho.

Connor Soudani Staff Writer

Contact Connor Soudani at csoudani16@my.whitworth.edu.