Pilots knocked out in Sweet Sixteen by no. 1 William Penn After a season full of surprises and exceeded expectations, the Bethel College men’s basketball team has concluded its 2012-2013 season after a loss to William Penn University on Friday, March 8, in the NAIA Division II National Tournament at the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo. Only one year after failing to make the tournament altogether, the Pilots run to the Sweet Sixteen was a nice surprise. It all started on Wednesday, March 6, when the Pilots faced no. 16 Embry-Riddle in the opening round of the tournament. Both teams came in with storied history and past success in the tournament. But this game wasn’t even close. The Pilots started out hot and they carried it through the end of the game on their way to a 73-49 victory. They were led by junior Ryan Benner who totaled 27 points with six rebounds and four assists. The win continued the Pilots’ perfect history in the first round of the NAIA Tournament as they are 9-0 all-time in opening round games. Next up was no. 1 William Penn University. The Pilots put up a valiant fight, but in the end the statesmen were just too much as they came out on top 101-84. William Penn led from the tip-off to the final buzzer and dashed any Pilot comeback with one of their 15 three-pointers for the game. The Pilots were led by sophomore Matt Schauss who had 17 points and six rebounds. The loss closed out a surprising 25-10 season when the Pilots were picked as the seventh-best team in the Crossroads League before the season began. By the time the season was over, the Pilots were Crossroads League champions. They will be losing four seniors this offseason: Jordan Bowerman, Taylor Kolbus, Darrell Hopkins and Drew Schauss. Lady Pilots end season in Elite Eight of NAIA tournament A stellar run in the NAIA National Tournament by the Bethel College women’s basketball team ended on Saturday, March 9, in Sioux City, Iowa, at the hands of no. 1 seed Morningside College 71-60 in the Elite Eight. The loss came after an opening round trouncing of no. 23 Valley City State University 79-63 on Wednesday, March 6 and a Sweet Sixteen victory over no. 8 Roosevelt University 69-55 on Friday, March 8. The Lady Pilots entered the tournament as the no. 11 team in the country with a 25-7 record. However, they were coming off of a sour ending to their conference tournament where they lost to the University of St. Francis 71-44. The Lady Pilots tore through their first-round matchup with Valley City State University with a hot shooting performance led by star guard Laura Johnson who netted 24 points in the Lady Pilots’ victory. In the Sweet Sixteen, the Lady Pilots faced Roosevelt University – a team they had already beaten 66-55 earlier in the year. Despite that victory, the Pilots came in as the lower-seeded team. Led once again by Johnson, the Pilots cruised to victory as they held a double-digit lead for most of the game. The Pilots also got strong performances from seniors Georgia Boisse and Kristen Hicks. Boisse had a stat line of eight points, eight rebounds and four assists while Hicks totaled ten points, six rebounds and four steals. The win moved the Lady Pilots on to the Elite Eight where they met no. 1 Morningside College. For all intents and purposes, Morningside had the home crowd advantage as they had to travel a measly three miles to get to the tournament. Coupled with the Mustangs’ high ranking, this was not a good combination for the underdog Lady Pilots. Things would get worse. Morningside raced to a 26-9 lead early in the game and Bethel shooters started the game making just three of their first 22 shots. But Bethel fought back valiantly to close the gap to 32-23 at halftime. In the second half, the Lady Pilots continued their comeback as senior Alyshia Harvey’s layup trimmed the Mustang lead to two. But the Mustangs were in control from there as they cruised to a double-digit victory. It was a tough loss to swallow, but the storylines were not all bad for the Lady Pilots following the game. The team was led in scoring by Hicks and Boisse who each had 13. Hicks’ final bucket gave her 1,000 points for her career. Johnson ended her amazing career with 9 points in her final game as a Lady Pilot. “We had an amazing season and made a terrific run in this tournament and to be one of the final eight teams is something for them to be proud of," said head coach Jody Martinez in an interview with bethelcollegepilots.com. "This senior class is one that is very special to my staff and I and is one of the greatest teams in our programs history. Although losing is obviously difficult, to see where Christ has led them in their time here at Bethel and what he will do with their lives in the future is what Lady Pilot basketball is about." The Lady Pilots ended the season with a 27-8 record, and will now begin the offseason. The team will be losing nine seniors from this year’s squad: Ann Beachy, Harvey, Johnson, Chrissy Hooks, Ashlee Ort, Katy Stuppy, Boisse, Hicks and Baysia Cox.