Men’s basketball team ends tourney play with loss to Lorain

Jason Cuevas and Eric Daft, Staff writers

Jason Cuevas and Eric Daft

A long and hard season was put to end for the men’s basketball team. While regional tournaments give an opportunity for losing teams to play Cinderella, those hopes were shortly dashed.

The WolfPack season came to an end after a 76-56 defeat to Lorain County Community College during the first round of the Region IV Tournament. LCCC simply had too much speed and athleticism for Madison Area Technical College to contend with.

LCCC was lead by forwards Jacob Pope and Greg Fite with 22 and 21 points apiece. Pope and Fite were able to slash towards the basket most of the night while the WolfPack struggled to create inside scoring opportunities for themselves especially when center Garret Borgrud got into early foul trouble, and guard Alex Cook only shot 6 for 18.

Madison College coach Scot Vesterdahl felt that the team’s strength did not really match up with the strengths of Lorain County. He expressed surprise at how well they were able to shoot, and felt that his own team did not play their best game.

“If we had played a better game that would have been a heck of a game, but when you get our best player in foul trouble and he doesn’t play very much and our best guard didn’t shoot the ball very well. In fact none of us shot the ball very well. That’s a tough combination,” Vesterdahl said.

The WolfPack finishes the season 9-20 with a 6-8 conference record. The season began with disappointing non-conference play as the WolfPack tallied up a record of 0-5. During that stretch they averaged 33 percent shooting from the field as a team with a season low 26.8 percent against Highland Community College. After their rough start, the WolfPack recovered and shot 47.2 percent while being led in scoring by sophomore center Borgrud with a game-high 33 points during their first victory of the season against Olive-Harvey College.

Around this time the WolfPack established a core group of players who each played in over 20 games throughout the season. The most reliable of these players was Tyler Kowalkowski, who played at least 39 minutes per game in 12 games, including 45 minutes in an overtime victory against College of DuPage.

Vesterdahl expressed that Kowalkowski did everything asked of him. He had an all around presence that will be hard for the team to replace.

During their second tournament of the year, the Maricopa County Holiday Classic, the WolfPack lost all three of their games including two 40 point deficit losses. Heading into their third conference game on a 6-game losing skid with a 2-13 record they started to right the ship with solid team play in a 68-60 victory over Wilbur Wright College at home.

Conference play provided some marginal success, as they stayed competitive in the hunt for a decent playoff position. The team was led in points by Borgrud, who averaged 18.9 points per game, and was joined in double digits by Kawolkowski with 14.8 points.

During the final three games Borgrud averaged a team high 32 points while adding more than 10 rebounds per game.

“Garret Borgrud is as good a post guy as I’ve ever had in my years here. He has a full ride Division II, he’s already signed. I don’t know that I’ll have a better one,” Vesterdahl said.

The season was marred by two lengthy losing streaks that held the WolfPack back. The team had a myriad of injuries, including two serious concussions, an emergency appendectomy, pneumonia and a hip dislocation.

“You talk all the time in sports and in life and in education about learning from adversity. Dealing with the hurdles that life throws at you. For us, this year, we dealt with more adversity than any team, any combination of teams I’ve ever had in all my years of coaching,” Vesterdahl said.

They managed to finish the season strong and kept their composure down the stretch. The team became more organized and fluid as the season progressed.

“The guys did a good job of sticking with it. The guys got better as the season went on. The last six or seven games we played some really pretty good basketball. That’s why it’s so disheartening and frustrating we didn’t play better last night,” Vesterdahl said.