Graceland will host their first Heart of America Conference post season tournament game ever after ending Central Methodist’s 17 game winning streak and beating the
Eagles for the 4th straight time. Graceland advanced into the championship game of the Heart of America men’s basketball tournament with a 62-48 win over the Eagles Friday night in Fayette. Graceland dominated the start of the game and led 27-6 through the first 12 minutes, but surrendered 10 points in the next 5 minutes and led 30-22 at halftime.
Head coach Craig Doty says the fast start was nothing new. “We have been a great starting team all season. Tonight wasn’t any different. However, we ran into a brick wall offensively as we struggled to finish around the rim, we weren’t rebounding offensively, and we were struggling to make successful post entry passes to Jeremy Deemer”.
Central Methodist would close to as little as 2 points halfway through the second half, but Graceland would respond with the next 6 points to take a 44-36 lead.
“In this situation, the technical foul was exactly what our team needed. our crowd, which included a fan bus that came in with nearly 60 Graceland supporters, really picked up, our guys fed off the energy of knowing we were going to fight for them, and they took a 2 point lead and stretched it to double figures really quick.”
Central Methodist could only close to within 7 the rest of the way. Graceland outrebounded Central Methodist 54-37. Jeremy Deemer of Graceland had 18 points and 23 rebounds.
“Jeremy (Deemer) was the difference making on the glass tonight. Usually it’s a combination of him, Justin (Harley) and Will (Nelson), as all three of them are some of the best rebounders in the conference at their position. With Will and Justin struggling, Jeremy took over.”
Graceland shot just 30 percent from the field for the game, but Central Methodist shot just 24 percent.
“We had to guard the perimeter much harder this game because of how many great shooters CMU has. I thought we played solid, not great defense tonight. However, in my nine years of coaching college basketball, never has an opponent of mine shot 24.2% from the field, so perhaps we did better than I think. I won’t know until I watch the film. Just because our opponent misses a shot, it doesn’t necessarily mean it was because of a great defensive effort”
LT Davis had 17 points in the game. Dalton Payton scored 13. Graceland is now 23-10 on the season and will host the Heart of America conference tournament championship game on Monday night. Peru State defeated William Penn 102-99 to allow Graceland to host.