Senior Sports Writer
The Wooster men’s basketball team — ranked third overall in the country — has earned a record of 4-0 so far this season and is looking to continue that winning streak in upcoming games.
The men started off their season by winning the 20th annual Al Van Wie/Rotary Tournament. The event featured stiff competition from the Midwest. Wooster hosted Spalding University from Louisville, Ky., Baldwin-Wallace University from Berea, Ohio and Wheaton College from Wheaton, Ill.
The first game for the Scots was against the Baldwin-Wallace Yellow Jackets (3-1), who were fresh off an impressive season-opening win against Case Western Reserve University. The Scots led by one point at halftime and ended the game with a five-point advantage over the Yellow Jackets.
One close game after the next, the Scots defeated the preseason No. 5 Wheaton Thunder (3-2) in a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback. Wheaton, like Wooster, is expected to make a run in the NCAA tournament this spring. This four-point victory for the Scots was an impressive way to finish off the weekend and take home the Al Van Wie title.
Xavier Brown ’15 and Doug Thorpe ’14 were two key players for Wooster during the tournament. Brown was the leading scorer with 31 points in the first game, while Thorpe led the Scots against Wheaton, dropping 21 points overall, including the last 10 of the game.
“Some highlights from the Al Van Wie tournament would be how we were able to maintain our composure as a team late in the game,” said Brown. The team has good momentum coming out from this tournament.
Following the tournament win, the Scots were able to maintain their winning record in a close victory against the Marietta Pioneers (4-1). The Pioneers fell short to Wooster by three points, 81-78.
This game went back and forth between the two teams often and had numerous lead changes and ties. Marietta made a late run in the game, netting a crucial three pointer with eight seconds left to pull within one point. However, Thorpe was fouled with seven seconds left and netted two free throws to secure the win.
Thorpe led the Scots with 21 points, two rebounds and four assists. Brown also had an impressive game with 20 points, two rebounds and two assists. Dan Fanelly ’17 also notched 10 points for the Scots in addition to three rebounds and two blocks.
“Every team is going to bring their best game against us, and we were able to handle all their runs and still come away with a late win, which was impressive from our standpoint,” said Kenny DeBoer ’15.
This year the Scots not only have individual talent but also great team chemistry on the court.
“Out of the many things that have been working for the team so far, I would say our leadership from the captains, communication and coaching have been the main keys to our success,” said Brown.
The team faced Ohio Wesleyan after press time and will face DePauw University (4-1) tomorrow at 3 p.m. at the Tigers’ home court.