Falcons fell in second round

Daniel Newman

The Seattle Pacific University men’s basketball team’s season, and a 13-game winning streak, came to an end on March 16, as they lost a close one 67-63 to Saint Martin’s University in the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament. The Falcons did manage a comeback win in the first round, beating Chaminade University 77-75, on a Gavin Long buzzer beater with 1.8 seconds to go.

“Hitting the game-winning shot against Chaminade was one of my favorite moments of the season,” said Long. “I was excited that I was able to help keep our season and the seniors’ careers alive.”

The Falcons were back in the tournament after not making it the past two seasons, and they held a two-point lead at the midway point of the first half.

Silverswords guard Tyler Cartaino scored eight points to lead them on a 16-4 run and regain the lead at 33-23. The Falcons continued to fight back, and their deficit was only four points at halftime.

The Falcons were only able to trade baskets with the Silverswords over the first twelve minutes of the second half and were down 13 with eight minutes to go. But when it looked like they were about to run out of time, the Falcons made a mad dash toward a comeback. Guards Long and Nikhil Lizotte and forward Coleman Wooten scored nearly all of the rest of the Falcons points, with Lizotte sinking two free throws with 58 seconds to go to give the Falcons a two-point lead.

Cartaino came back for the Silverswords, stealing the ball from Long and hitting a game tying layup with 17 seconds to go. The Falcons had time for one last shot, and they went to Long, the Junior. Long stayed calm, drove toward the basket, and hit the game winning layup, clinching the win.

The Falcons were led by Long, who scored 21 points, 17 of which came in the second half. Lizotte chipped in 17 points of his own, and Wooten had 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

Silverswords guard Grant Dressler scored a game high 26 points. Cartaino scored 16 and grabbed nine rebounds, and forward Erik Scheive scored 13 and had six rebounds. Forward Jake Hutchings added 11 points off the bench.

The Falcons next opponent would be one that they were familiar with, the Saint Martin’s Saints. The two teams had played each other twice over the course of the season, and each team had won one matchup.

It was a low scoring first half, as the teams were deadlocked at 15 points apiece with six minutes to go in the half. The Falcons began scoring and extended the lead to seven at one point, but only maintained a 29-25 lead at halftime.

It was another game that would go down to the wire, as the biggest lead achieved by either team after the Saints re-tied the score early in the second half was four points. Long again stepped up for the Falcons, hitting a layup for a one-point lead with 1:49 to go. It was the last shot the Falcons would make during the game. Guard EJ Boyce hit a big three for the Saints, and the Falcons had six more shots throughout the game, but missed all of them. Guards BJ Standley and Rhett Baerlocher hit free throws to put the game away, and the Saints ended up moving on.

For the Falcons, Long and fellow guard Harry Cavell combined to score 29 points for the Falcons, and first-year guard Divant’e Moffitt scored 11 off the bench. In his final game as a Falcon, forward Sam Simpson grabbed 11 rebounds and put in eight points.

Standley stepped up for the Saints, hitting seven free throws and scoring 18 points. Boyce followed with 17 points. Guard Luke Chavez and forward Jordan Kitchen grabbed seven rebounds each, with Chavez adding 10 points and four assists, and Kitchen scored eight points.

Looking ahead to next year for the Falcons, there will be big shoes to fill. They will be graduating six seniors, including guards Lizotte and Conner Van Dyken, and forwards Simpson, Nathan Streufert, Trey Miller and Wooten, who was named a member of the All-West Region Second Team. The list includes three starters, three of the Falcons top five scorers and the Falcons top three rebounders. But the Falcons still have hope, as they return starting guards Long and Cavell. Moffitt provided some good minutes off the bench for the Falcons this season, and they will return guard Gabe Colosimo, who only played two games for the Falcons this year before being injured.

The Falcons will also bring in three first-years to the team next season. Forward Shaw Anderson from Kelso headlines the list. Anderson broke the Washington 4A state tournament scoring record this year, scoring 122 points in four games. The remaining two players the Falcons bring in are also from Washington. They include Zack Paulsen from Curtis High School in University Place, and Clayton Whitman from Lynden High School, the 2A state champions this year.

“We need to continue to build of the successes of this season and keep getting better and better,” said head coach Grant Leep. “We have very big goals as a program and are hard at work finding the right people to achieve those goals. I love the players we have coming back. We have a lot of experience back, plus the addition of some very talented freshman. It is an exciting time in our program right now.”