The Bethel College men’s basketball team plays in the Crossroads League Championship game tonight at 7 pm at home against Taylor University. It has been a long road to this point for the Pilots, and they now have the chance to cap the season with a conference title. The Pilots came into this season ranked seventh in the preseason Crossroads League poll. They jumped out to a hot start and were one of the top teams in conference throughout the entire season. But they struggled down the stretch losing four games in a row before winning their regular season finale against Marian with a ferocious last-minute comeback capped off by a game-winning shot from sophomore guard Matt Schauss. This gave the Pilots a no. 3 seed heading into the conference tournament. The Pilots were the only team in conference to improve on their preseason ranking, moving up four spots. In the tournament, the Pilots first played the Cougars from the University of St. Francis. The teams were dead even in the first half before the Pilots raced out to a comfortable lead in the second half behind a stellar all-around game from sophomore guard Zach Miller (24 points, five assists and four steals). This gave the Pilots an 89-73 victory and sent them to the Crossroads League semi-final round. In between, the top two seeded teams in the tournament (Indiana Wesleyan University and Grace College) both lost, opening up an opportunity for the Pilots. They seized the moment. For the second time in a week, the Pilots faced off against Marian University. Unlike the last meeting, this game was never close. The Pilots were in control from the tip-off, and they won 72-53. They were led by junior guard Ryan Benner who scored 15 points and added four steals, three assists and two rebounds. The win put the Pilots in the Crossroads League title game where they face the Taylor University Trojans. The last time the Pilots and the Trojans faced off in the Crossroads League title game came in 1997 when the Trojans won a classic: 96-95 in overtime. This is the Pilots first berth in the title game since 2010 when the no. 2 seeded Pilots lost 78-68 to no. 1 Indiana Wesleyan. Overall, the Pilots have won six Crossroads League title games with the last victory coming in 2009. Just one season ago, the Pilots finished ninth in the conference and did not even make it to the Crossroads League tournament. Due to this, the Pilots were seeded seventh in the preseason Crossroads League standings. But they have outpaced expectations and now find themselves hosting the Crossroads League Championship game. Check back in with the Beacon for coverage after tonight’s game. The Pilots host Taylor University at 7 p.m. at Gates Gymnasium for the Crossroads League title.