On Saturday, Feb. 15 the men’s basketball team hosted their rival the College of Wooster and secured their 88-81 victory. This was the 121 meeting of the two teams and, earlier this season, the Tigers travelled to Wooster and were defeated 98-86, so the red and white were out for blood. Prior to the game, champions of the past were honored as it was Champs Night. Pam Evans Smith Arena was packed so full for the Code Red game with families, friends, fans and alumni that there were even courtside seats added to fit everyone.
One of the champs honored prior to the game was Steve Moore (’74) who is the current head coach for the Fighting Scots of Wooster. Moore was presented with original hardwood flooring from the 1929 gymnasium by Vice President of Athletics Gary Williams.
With 1:01 left in the game, Jake Bertemes (’20) joined many Tigers before him in the 1,000-point club. Prior to tip-off Bertemes was 19 points away from point 1,000 and he hit point 19 while knocking down free-throws in the second half.
The tip-off started in favor of the Fighting Scots but was quickly stolen by Bertemes who took the ball to the hoop for two-points and quick lead for the Tigers. Connor Seipel (’20) followed that up with two layups in the paint and a jumper from Bertmes to put the red and white ahead 8-4.
“You can expect both teams to be getting after each other,” Matt Croci, head coach, said. “Guarding [really] well, rebounding the ball, running their stuff, I expect both team’s top players to be playing well.”
The Fighting Scots scrambled as the half ticked down with layups and three-point shots but fell short. At the half, the Tigers were comfortably ahead 35-30.
It wasn’t until the second half that the Tigers let the lead slip into the hands of the Fighting Scots. With a layup Wooster tied the game up 38-38 followed by a free throw after Landon Martin (’21) fouled. But James Johnson (’21) regained the lead 40-39 followed by a three-point shot from Jordan Pumroy (’20).
As the game wound down Bertemes and Johnson made appearances at the free throw line. Johnson made the red and white’s last two points. The game’s final shot and points came after a layup from the Fighting Scots and then the buzzer sounded. The gym erupted into cheers as the Tigers had secured their victory.
Johnson posted a career high of 31-points against the Fighting Scots and wrapped up a double-double with 10 rebounds on the night. Bertemes lead the Tigers in assists with seven himself. The red and white were 50% from the floor with 36 points in the paint, 15 points off turnovers, 14 second chance points, 31 rebounds and 12 assists.
Coming up the Tigers are hitting the road to take on Wabash College on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. The red and white are returning home on Saturday, Feb. 22 to host Hiram College for Senior Day at 3 p.m.