Bethel men's hoops faces Jamestown to open NAIA tournament action
The 14th-seeded Threshers travel to North Dakota with hopes of a run to Kansas City.
Before the NAIA tournament selection show last Thursday, the Bethel men’s basketball team was unsure of its fate and was on the bubble as a qualifier for an at-large bid. During the show, they found out they would be making the trip, seeded 14th, to North Dakota to take on third-seeded Jamestown in the first round of play.
The Jimmies ended their season 25-6 overall and 15-5 in the GPAC. Jamestown finished second in the GPAC postseason tournament, falling in the final to a squad nationally receiving votes in Dordt, 86-81.
One of the Jimmies’ most notable wins from their season was defeating, at the time, 23rd-ranked (NAIA) Concordia in blowout fashion, 90-59, on Nov. 22. One of their worst losses came against 25th-ranked Morningside, 75-48, on Feb. 10.
Jamestown is led by senior forward Mason Walters. He was named GPAC Player of the Year, averaging 26.1 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game in 29.9 minutes per game. Walters is also 82.7% from the charity stripe, meaning the Threshers will look to not foul him.
Although he also leads his squad in turnovers with 68 on the season, Walters has 809 points on the campaign. The second closest on the Jimmies’ roster only has 396. He also has the highest number of rebounds, 300, with 221 of those being defensive rebounds. Bethel will look to lock Walters down — both on and off the ball.
The Thresher men will be fresh off of a loss in the KCAC tournament championship that left them with little hope of making a postseason run, but luck was on their side as the KCAC got four teams into the national bracket (Southwestern, Oklahoma Wesleyan, and Kansas Wesleyan being the other three). Bethel finished its season 20-10 overall and 16-6 in conference play.
One of Bethel’s most notable wins came in the semifinals of that KCAC playoff against Sterling on Feb. 25. The Threshers led by a whopping 32 points at halftime and cruised to the championship game, 90-73, over the Warriors. One of the Threshers’ most questionable losses is the 91-80 defeat to Ottawa on Jan. 28 — just days after toppling seventh-ranked Oklahoma Wesleyan.
Bethel’s senior duo of Clifford Byrd II and Bryant Mocaby will be the key to an NAIA tournament run. Byrd II leads the team in scoring, averaging 15.5 points per game with Mocaby right behind at 13.6 points per game. Byrd II also leads the Threshers on the boards with 6.3 rebounds per game, 175 total rebounds (141 of those being defensive), and elsewhere with 135 total assists and 86 total steals on the season.
Byrd II was named to the KCAC all-defensive team. Mocaby has been heating up from the three-point line as of late with 83 total three-pointers made this season.
Both teams will look to be on top of their game in this matchup and look to continue their postseason run in the second round. Tip-off is slated for Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Jamestown, N.D. The winner will play in the second round on Wednesday at 6 p.m. for a chance to travel to Kansas City for the Round of 16.