Green Swarm awaits Crusaders

January 29, 2013

The Wilmington College men’s basketball team enters a pivotal week in the season 7:30 p.m. Wednesday when they host Capital at the Fred Raizk Arena. The Crusaders enter the game with a share of the Ohio Athletic Conference lead at 10-2. (Game Notes, Live Stats/Audio)

Following the CU game, Wilmington travels to third place Baldwin-Wallace, who is currently 9-3 in league play. Victories over both teams will keep the Fightin’ Quakers in the race for the double bye in the OAC tournament. But before WC turns its attention to the Yellow Jackets, the league-leading Crusaders are on tap.

“Capital is a really solid team,” said head coach K.C. Hunt. “They are leading the league for a reason. They are a veteran group with six seniors that contribute. It’s going to be a challenge for us. They shoot the heck out of the basketball, making 42 percent on their three’s. They are excellent in sharing the ball.”

Wilmington will have its “Green Swarm” night to welcome its visitors from Bexley. The fans are encouraged to support the Fightin’ Quakers by sporting green to the game.

In the team’s first meeting, Capital escaped with 70-68 victory on December 18th after Wilmington couldn’t secure the defensive rebound and the Crusaders converted a lay-up in the game’s final seconds. The loss was part of Wilmington’s season long four-game losing streak. Since the end of the skid, the Fightin’ Quakers have won six of their last seven games.

“In the last game, they made one more play than we did,” said Hunt. “It was one of those situations where the team with the ball was going to win. We have to make sure we don’t dig a hole for us this time. I think we did ourselves a disservice falling down early. We have to play a complete game. You can’t play in spurts against a complete team.”

Three players reached double figures for Capital on that December night. Leading scorer Spencer Niekamp led the way with 17 points, including the game winner with 3.2 seconds remaining. Senior Tim Congrove added 13 points and senior Mitch Westerheide recorded 12 points. On the season, Niekamp is scoring 14.4 points with a team-high 5.5 rebounds, while Congrove and Westerheide are scoring 8.4 each.

Junior Malcolm Heard II (Wilmington, OH/Wilmington), the reigning OAC Player of the Week, is coming off his fifth double-double of the season with 23 points and 10 rebounds against Heidelberg Saturday. In conference action, Heard has been better statistically with 15.3 points and 7.8 rebounds. The averages are higher than his numbers against non-conference opponents.

Senior Brandon Candella (West Chester, OH/Lakota West) continues his career year as he is embarking on eclipsing some personal high-water marks. He needs just four field goals and five three-pointers to reach personal seasonal records. Candella, who is averaging 15.6 points and 4.3 rebounds, needs just 23 points to become the 24th player in school history to reach 1,000 points.

While Heard and Candella have been steady performers for the Quakers all season long, during the recent successful streak, Wilmington has received outstanding scoring performances from their other players. Sophomore Dwight Johnson (Dayton, OH/Jefferson), who was named OAC Player of the Week two weeks ago, is averaging 11.1 points in league action. Additionally, players like junior Jordan Berlin (Wilmington, OH/Wilmington) and senior Miles Bankston (Cincinnati, OH/Walnut Hills) have added double-figure scoring performances in recent contests.