Pictured Above: The Builders talk strategy during one of their timeouts in the championship game on Monday night. (Garrett Chapman/Staff Photographer)
By Tanner Carlson
The Southwestern Moundbuilders lost 109-104 in overtime to the York College Panthers in the championship game played in Hartman Arena. However, the Builders’ expectations next year are going to be high.
The Builders surpassed all expectations this season finishing on an eight-game win streak before losing in the conference championship game, and all of this was done without a single senior on the roster.
“A lot of people didn’t think that we would be here. I know some of the coaches in the conference picked us to finish eighth,” said Myron Fisher, junior guard. “So we can look back and be proud that we actually got here.”
York led the Builders in the first half by as much as 15 with nine minutes of play left. The Builders were able to cut the lead at half to five, trailing 51-46.
“One thing we talked about all season was maintaining our energy level, never getting too high and never getting too low,” Fisher said. “We knew we would get on some runs, and we knew we had to maintain some of their runs, but we just had to stay positive through it all.”
The biggest problem for the Builders in their loss was rebounding. The Builders were out-rebounded by York 48-34. York was able to get second chance opportunities with offensive rebounding gathering 21 compared to Southwestern’s 28 defensive rebounds.
“Well, we need some more rebounding, as you could see,” said Matt O’Brien, head basketball coach. “We need some bigs that can matchup a little bit better on the boards, but these guys need to continue to get better and that’s all they’ve done since they’ve been here.”
The Builders found themselves down by 10, 74-64, in the second half with nine minutes to play. The Builders would inch back into the game slowly before tying the game at 86 with two minutes remaining. They would eventually take the lead by four with 37 seconds left in the game. Trailing by three with 15 seconds to play, York’s Michael Johnson, junior forward, hit a three to force overtime at 91 apiece.
“We were just focusing on getting a stop, just get a stop,” DJ Wallace, junior forward, said. “Then execution on offense and trying to score the ball, but mostly getting a stop, and rebounding which we struggled with tonight.”
Southwestern’s top performers were Cam Hunt, sophomore guard, with 36 points, Wallace finished with 31, and Jacob Horsch, junior guard, ended his night with 18 on six three pointers.
Johnny Cooksey, senior guard, was York’s go-to guy in overtime. He scored 16 of York’s 18 points leading the Panthers to victory. The Builders are already looking towards the off-season and living up to the high expectations.
“This loss is definitely going to be fresh in our mind all off-season long, and it’s going to be the driving force for us,” Fisher said “We have to understand that expectations will be high, and we should get better, and we should win.”
Coach O’Brien already knows what the off-season plan is going to look like, and how important it is going to be for the success of next year’s team.
“We need to lift weights, and we need to continue to get bigger and stronger,” O’Brien, said, “That’s going to be key for us this spring. This spring and summer is going to be huge for us.”
The mindset after a heartbreaking loss seems to be determined heading into next season.
“We owe each other one (championship) after this one,” Wallace explained, “So next year, we live, breath, sleep, and eat basketball, and that’s what we’re going to have to do if we want to win.”
Tanner Carlson is a junior majoring in communication. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org