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Men’s Basketball splits games at McPherson Classic
Bethel's record moves to 2-2 going into conference play.
McPHERSON — Over the weekend, the Bethel basketball team went to the McPherson Classic where they took on Benedictine and Clarke. Bethel defeated Benedictine on Friday, 67-59, then fell to Clark on Saturday, 90-76.
Starting off hot for the Threshers against the Ravens was junior Harper Jonas who scored the first 11 points for Bethel — including three three-pointers — to take an early lead. Midway through the first half, the Threshers held a five-point lead, then slowed then the rest of the way, allowing Benedictine to get within two, 30-28.
Senior Bryant Mocaby scored the last points of the half with a three that got off just before the buzzer, bringing the Thresher lead to six heading into the break. Bethel came out of halftime on fire and pushed its lead up to 14 points.
With just over five minutes left in the game, the Ravens would once again battle back to get within four, 56-52. “They did cut our lead a little bit in the second half and we just needed to find a way to get some easy baskets to help hold them off,” Bethel head coach Jayson Artaz said.
The Threshers did just that with a big assist from junior Nick Bonner to junior Jalyn Todd for a layup, senior Clifford Byrd II making a huge three-pointer, and knocking down free throws down the stretch. When the final buzzer sounded, Bethel was able to hold Benedictine off to clinch the victory, 67-59.
Jonas was the leading scorer for the Threshers in the contest with 15 points, followed by Byrd, Todd, and Mocaby each with 10.
“In this game, I was really proud of how we guarded,” Artaz said. “We played as one unit and I felt like our entire team was on the same page, moving as one. We’ve had some dry spells offensively this year that we have to work to eliminate.
Luckily, we hit some timely threes and Nick Bonner had a nice drive and lob to Jalyn Todd that felt big in that moment and were able to close out the game at the [free-throw] line which is a positive.”
The next day, Bethel returned to take on Clarke. From the beginning of the contest, Bethel stayed ahead of the Pride with a six-point lead at the 12-minute mark of the first half. Clarke went on a run of their own after that, taking a ten-point lead and led by six at the half, 44-38.
Byrd II led the Threshers in the first half with 11 points. The Threshers could never quite overcome the Pride in the second half because of Clarke’s leading scorer, Jacob Fierst, who tallied 31 points in the contest.
“We didn’t defend very well,” Artaz said. “We lacked confidence on the court and as a team. I didn’t feel like we executed as well as I would’ve liked. I also was disappointed with the energy our bench had as we just seemed flat and lacked enthusiasm from guys on the team which is something we’ve always been known for.”
The final score was 90-76, with Byrd II leading the way for Bethel with a triple-double: 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. Mocaby finished with 12 points, Jonas with 11, and Todd with 10 for the Threshers.
“I felt like all of the positives and improvement we showed against Benedictine was the opposite against Clarke,” Artaz said. “This felt like an all-around bad game — from coaches and our lineups and adjustments down to players and how we have to play to be successful. We’ll need to get back on track before Wednesday because as conference play starts we can’t be worried about what’s happened up to now.
We just need to go play our best game. After seeing us this weekend I still think we can be really good. Beating Benedictine was a good win and we saw what we could possibly do, but we’ll need to find more consistency to be able to have lasting success this year.”
The Threshers will be back on the hardwood to open conference play on Wednesday when they take on Friends in Wichita. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.