On Saturday, the Ichabod's men’s basketball team competed in the MIAA tournament semifinal round against Pitt State.
Early on and throughout the game the Ichabods proved they were the better team. Their hard-work paid off as the Ichabods came out victorious defeating the Gorillas, 99-94.
Early on, the Ichabods looked determined to attack Pitt State from the inside, but the shots were not falling. Multiple times they had open looks down low, but the ball would find a way to rattle out of the rim. After a media timeout, the Ichabods were only up 15-13.
With scores from seniors Javion Blake and David Salach, as well as freshman Sevon Witt, the Ichabod's lead increased to 26-19 going on a 14-6 run. As quickly as they got hot, they cooled down and allowed the Gorillas to bring the score to 30-27.
The Ichabods answered back with a three-point shot from sophomore guard Tyler Geiman that would jump-start their offense. Washburn's lead quickly jumped back to ten, but the Gorillas were not about to be pushed over.
As hard as the Ichabods were working, the Gorillas were fighting. Pitt State cut the lead to 40-37 in favor of the Ichabods and had a scoring run for three minutes. Washburn found a way to add on to their score to keep the lead heading into halftime, 44-41.
Leading in scoring at the half were Blake, Salach and Geiman, all with double figures.
The Ichabods came out of the half amped up. Within the first three minutes the men were able to force Pitt State to use a timeout to regroup after working them on defense and offense.
After Pitt State made a three, Geiman found senior guard, Tyas Martin, wide open running down the side for a layup while Pitt State was celebrating their score. With 15:00 left on the clock, the Ichabods held a 57-46 lead over the Gorillas.
The team was continuously working to get the best shot possible. During one possession, that search took all of the shot clock. When freshman guard, Jalen Lewis missed a three at the end of the shot clock, senior guard Devyn Wilson was there to grab the rebound and put back the layup to give the Ichabods a 67-57 lead.
Throughout most of the first ten minutes of the second half, the Ichabods were dominating on both ends of the floor. The only downside was the fact that they were in foul trouble.
A little while later, Washburn's lead had been cut to 69-64. Blake stole the ball right after the Gorillas rebounded. He pulled up from three-point land and drained the shot to get the crowd and the Ichabod bench fired up.
The threes kept dropping for the Ichabods as sophomore forward, Will McKee, scored after the ball rattled around the rim to give the Ichabods a 79-68 lead.
With 4:31 left in the game, Geiman drove the ball down the court and passed it to Wilson who drove the ball to the hoop to give Washburn their biggest lead of the day, 86-73. Somehow, the Gorillas were able to cut the lead down to five again, and just as soon as they got that close, the Ichabods extended the lead to 92-85.
With a minute to go, Pitt State was trying to do anything possible to come from behind and win the game. The Ichabods were able to wear out the Gorillas and clinch a berth into the MIAA Championship game, ending 99-94.
Blake had one of his best scoring performances of the year, but shares the credit for his 32 points with his team.
“Just stay confident. I believe in our coaching staff and our players, they put me in the right position to make some shots, especially in the second half,” Blake said.
Throughout the game, Salach knew what the Ichabods had to do, and that was to stay together.
"We just stuck together. Always our motto is to get stops. They were getting to the free-throw line a lot down the stretch, driving into the lane and getting fouled," Salach said. "We got to make sure on defense that we don’t foul. We just stuck it out. We hit free-throws down the stretch that we needed to, and our guards, Javion and Tyler [Geiman] made some big plays down the stretch to secure the win."
The Ichabods will take on the top-ranked Northwest Bearcats in Sunday's MIAA Championship game at 1 p.m. in Kansas City.