Men's Basketball

Men’s hoop team looks to continue its winning ways

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The Bethel College Pilots defeated Holy Cross College on Tuesday evening 87-63. It was the second time this season the Pilots have beaten Holy Cross and the win improved their overall record to 8-1. The Pilots had great balance Tuesday night as five players scored in double figures. Ryne Lightfoot led all scorers with 21 points, connecting on 8-11 from the floor. Tyler Brown scored 15 points, Wes Laidig added 12, and Stephen Ward and Caleb Laidig chipped in with 10 points each. Over the last several weeks, the Bethel men’s basketball team has continued moving toward another great season. The team is currently ranked No. 4 in the NAIA division II poll. After capturing a pair of wins at the Trinity International Tournament, the team has gone 2-1 to begin MCC conference play. Both of these conference wins have come at home, adding to the team’s record setting home winning streak which now stands at 26 games. The team has also experienced a number of tight games early on as all of their conference games have been decided by eight points or less. That includes the first conference game of the season which was a one point victory over Grace. Tyler Brown knocked down the game winning shot with one second left in the game to defeat the Lancers. During the second conference game of the season, the Pilots suffered a tough loss to the Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats by a score of 73-67. Overall, it was a tough road environment for the Pilots, as the Wildcats were able to capture a 7-0 lead to start the game and get the crowd into the game. However, after quickly regrouping, the Pilots climbed back into it and finished the half down by six 37-31. In the second half the Pilots fell way behind and couldn’t pull it out despite a huge rally that began with just four minutes left in the game. Bethel got it back to just a two point game with 1:01 left to play, but they couldn’t overcome the Wildcats in the closing minute and they fell by six points. Tony Benford led all scorers that night with 23 points. Caleb Laidig was the only other Pilot scoring in double figures with 12 points. Although the Pilots shot 47.5 percent from the field which topped Wesleyan’s 40.4 percent, the Wildcats put up an impressive 21 points from the free throw line while only taking 28 attempts. On Dec. 5, Bethel hosted Goshen for their third conference game of the season. Goshen fought hard throughout the contest; however, the Pilots were simply too much to handle. Early on, the Pilots ran out to a 20-6 lead, but Goshen climbed back into it. The score was 45-37 at the half. Goshen continued to play solid basketball as they went on a 9-2 run to start the second half. As a result, the Maple Leafs pulled within one point of the Pilots 47-46. But Bethel never relinquished the lead and they proved how tough they are to beat at home. Bethel was eventually able to pull away and capture the 87-79 victory. Wes Laidig came off the bench and provided a big lift for Bethel as he finished the game with 23 points, while Ryne Lightfoot followed with 17 points. Joey Welch had a huge start for the Pilots as he grabbed nine rebounds and netted eight points. Senior forward Tyler Brown is happy with the way the team seems to be progressing so far this season. “We have had a great couple weeks of practice and have brought a vast amount of energy to the floor lately,” said Brown. “We are beginning to mesh as a team and are becoming a well oiled machine. The next step for us is to be more consistent on a daily basis and to continually work on our individual skills to help the team better. I love how unselfish our team is and how we are always trying to make the extra pass.” The Pilots now have some time off from conference play as they have three tourneys over the next month. Bethel hosts the Gates Automotive Classic this weekend as they open up against Kuyper College at 6 pm on Friday evening. If the Pilots win they will play on Saturday at 3 pm.
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