Blue Jays Take Home SLIAC Conference Championship
BY JAMES BERNSKOETTER
The Westminster men’s basketball team is headed to the Division III NCAA tournament, after winning its first St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLAIC) championship since 2012. The victory came in a 61-59 contest against Spalding University on Saturday.
The Blue Jays, with a regular season record of 10-15, entered the conference tournament as the No. 3 seed.
In the first round, they knocked out No. 2 seed Greenville 101-83 on Thursday. Westminster led 36-34 at halftime and then outscored Greenville 65-49. Carter Wands, ’19, led the Blue Jays in scoring with 17 points. Jimmy Villablobos, ’18, recorded a double-double with 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Nick Carlos, ’18; Romo Tabb, ’18 and Stu Hollandsworth, ’19 all scored 14 points.
In the championship game, the Blue Jays trailed Spalding 25-29 at halftime but rallied 36-30 in the second half to win 61-59. Carlos scored a game-high 24 points in the win, Tabb led Westminster in rebounds with 7 and Villalobos recorded 4 steals. Spalding outshot Westminster from the field (49 percent compared to 34.4 percent), but the Blue Jays missed just two of their 14 free-throw attempts.
Carlos and Tabb were named to the Third Team All-Conference team, and Kellen Brondel, ’16, was named to the All-Sportsmanship team. As a team, the Blue Jays received the St. Louis Athletic Conference Team Sportsmanship Award for the third consecutive year.
Including the tournament, Westminster ended its season with an overall record of 12-15, going 10-8 in conference play. Carlos led the team in points per game with 13.3, followed by Tabb with 12.1. Tabb also led the team in rebounds per game with 5. Wands led the team with 2.4 assists per game and averaged less than 1 turnover per game.
Finishing with three more wins than losses, the Blue Jays definitely experienced adversity during the course of their season.
“Things don’t always go your way, but you have to find a way to overcome it,” Brondel, a four-year varsity player, said.
Senior Student Assistant Trenten Roach said: “Our main priority is always to make the conference championship, to have a chance at the postseason. Now it’s time to see what we can do.”
The first games of the NCAA Division III tournament will begin on Thursday. The Blue Jays will find out who their first opponent will be today at 11:30 a.m.