DUNBAR, Wis. - Northland International University continued its strong run, capturing the NCCAA Division 2 Midwest Regional championship in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The red-hot Pioneers have won five games in a row and seven out of their last eight. The two most recent wins came in postseason play as the top-seeded Pioneers defeated No. Maranatha Baptist Bible College 81-64 in the regional semifinal.
The Pioneers advanced to the championship match where they met up with Kuyper College, which was riding a hot streak of its own after eliminating four-time defending national champion Grace Bible College 87-80.
Northland International University of Dunbar, Wis., captured an NCCAA Division 2 regional men’s basketball tournament and qualified for the nationals in Springfield, Missouri. Pictured, front: Noah McCarty, son of assistant coach Mike McCarty. Second row: Caleb Onasch, Keenan Gaudett (manager), Luke Valenzuela (captain), Micah Baines, Matt Walton, Levi Horner and assistant Austen McCoy. Back row: Coach Pete Wehry, assistant Mike McCarty, Derrick Harrison, Jon Egan, Brandon Gershman (captain), Josh Conover, Travis Thompson, Jordan Harrison, Anthony Lewis, Kyler Gardner, Josh Vanaman and Maxx Katzbeck.
The Pioneers came out firing on all cylinders to start the championship match, jumping out to a 9-0 lead. They also used a 13-0 run to start the second half to put the game out of reach, 90-79.
This is only the third regional title in school history (1994, 2007). NIU will now enjoy the No. 2 overall seed in the national tournament to be held Tuesday, March 5, through Saturday, March 9, in Springfield, Missouri. NIU starts at 2 p.m., Thursday against Arlington or Grace.
Added to the victory were some personal accolades for both players and coaches.
Josh Conover was named all-region first team while Micah Baines, Kyler Gardner and Anthony Lewis were all selected to the second team. Brandon Gershman rounded out the starting five with an honorable mention selection.
Pete Wehry was also named the NCCAA II Midwest Region Coach of the Year.