GVSU men’s basketball clinches GLIAC Tournament berth in Senior Day victory over Tiffin

GVSU mens basketball clinches GLIAC Tournament berth in Senior Day victory over Tiffin

Robbie Triano

Before the season even began, there was one goal the Grand Valley State men’s basketball team set to accomplish: qualify for the GLIAC Tournament.

Not only did the Lakers finally qualify for the postseason, but they did so on Senior Day, demolishing the Tiffin Dragons (7-19 overall, 3-15 GLIAC) 84-62 on Saturday, Feb. 17, at the GVSU Fieldhouse Arena. With the victory, GVSU improves to 14-12 (9-9 GLIAC), clinching a spot in the eight-team GLIAC Tournament.

Before the opening tip-off, seniors Myles Miller, Chris Dorsey, Drake Baar and scout player Gentry Hunt were all honored together with the entire coaching staff and GVSU Athletic Director Keri Becker. Although the season isn’t over yet for these seniors, GVSU head coach Ric Wesley already knows what he’ll miss from these core players.

“Besides basketball, they’re all going to be headed for great things in life,” Wesley said. “It’s going to be hard to think about them not being here next year because they bring so much effort and intensity to each game and practice.

“But we still have some basketball left here, so I’m happy they’re still here with us.”

Coming into the contest, the Laker offense knew they had to attack from behind the 3-point line against a zone-heavy Tiffin defense. By the end of the first half, the Lakers had hit 10 of them, leading the Dragons 48-30. 

With freshman standout Jake Van Tubbergen out with the flu, sophomore shooting guard Hunter Hale stepped up offensively out of the gate, finishing the first half with 16 points off five 3-point competitions and one free-throw make. By the end of the contest, Hale finished with 28 points (9-17 FG, 5-11 3PT and 5-6 FT). 

“Jake was out, so someone had to fill that void of points, and today it just happened to be me,” Hale said. “But all the credit goes to my teammates for feeding me the ball when I had found my rhythm.”

In the second half, the Lakers struggled to keep their 3-point success, hitting only two of their 14 attempts. Luckily, Hale and Baar found success scoring inside, combining for 20 second-half points. Baar finished the contest with 12 points and 5 assists. 

Right before the final two-minute mark, coach Wesley took Baar, Dorsey and Miller out of the game for the final time in their home careers. While the three core seniors came out, in came scout player Hunt in pursuit of his first career points. With 16 seconds remaining, Hunt finally reached that milestone with a made layup, which led to the Laker bench bursting with excitement.

“We had to keep feeding him the ball because we weren’t going to end Senior Day without a bucket for Gentry,” Baar said. 

Hunt’s bucket sealed the 84-62 victory to clinch the GLIAC Tournament berth for the Lakers. For the senior class, this moment is one they won’t forget.

“In terms of my favorite game played in the Fieldhouse, this probably ranks at the top,” Baar said. “This was definitely emotional for all of us, but I’m just happy I could wear Laker blue.”

The Lakers are currently in seventh in the GLIAC, which means they will most likely face Ferris State or Lake Superior State in the tournament, the top two teams in the conference. 

That matchup is very fitting for the Lakers, as their final two regular-season games will be on the road against Lake Superior State (20-6 overall, 14-4 GLIAC) on Thursday, Feb. 22, and Ferris State (27-1 overall, 17-1 GLIAC) on Saturday, Feb. 24. 

“We’re going to try and win,” Wesley said. “I don’t know if we can rise of the ranks, but it would help our cause to move up and get us a better seed. If not, we’re going to learn some good and bad things about these teams next weekend.”