Bluffton 74, Grove City 58
Beavers collect 5th straight McDonald's Tournament championship
By: Brandy Bidlack, sports information assistant
December 31, 2008
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University men's basketball team defeated the Grove City Wolverines to claim the 11th annual McDonald's of Bluffton Holiday Tournament title on December 31, 2008. This victory marks the fifth consecutive McDonald's championship for the Beavers. With the win, Bluffton improves to 8-4 on the season, while the Wolverines dropped to 6-3. In the consolation game, Wright State-Lake (7-5) took care of OSU-Lima by a final tally of 74-63.
Senior post Josiah Stober (Spencerville) rattled off the first two points for the Beavers. Aaron Taylor (Antwerp) added a bucket for Bluffton at the 16:55 mark, cutting the deficit to two. The Beavers regained the lead when freshman Brent Farley (Lima/Shawnee) converted an old-fashioned three-point play to make it 11-10. Thirty seconds later, Nate Heckelman (Norwalk) drained his first trey of the season to put the Beavers up, 14-13.
With 11 minutes remaining in the first stanza, Colt Cunningham (Powell/Worthington Christian) knocked down a jumper. Aaron Taylor connected with fellow senior Nick Wilson (Continental) for a three-pointer. A Taylor drive increased the Bluffton lead to 10, 29-19. Taylor once again dished the ball to Wilson for two near the end the half as Bluffton took a 32-27 lead at the break.
Josiah Stober opened up the second half with a pair of freebies. Taylor then drove to the basket for two to up the lead to seven, 36-29. At the 16:46 mark, Cunningham hit from behind the arc. Seconds later, Taylor found Farley for a layup. The Beavers increased their lead to 10 with a three-ball from Taylor, thanks to a Wilson assist.
With less than 10 minutes to go, Justin Rufenacht (Wauseon/Pettisville) drove to the basket for two points. Taylor and Cunningham both drained treys to increase the lead to 15 points, 61-46. At the 7:07 mark, Cunningham sank a jumper for two more points. After a quick timeout, Stober stepped outside and hit from long range. Wilson connected with Cunningham for three points, and then he drove to the bucket before Bluffton emptied its bench in the 74-58 win over Grove City.
The Beavers were led by senior and tournament MVP Aaron Taylor who was sensational, finishing with 21 points, five assists, five rebounds, and four steals. Colt Cunningham, who was also named to the All-Tournament team, broke 900 career points with 15 markers and four boards for the night. Josiah Stober added 11 points, while Nick Wilson chipped in with 11 points, four rebounds, four assists, one steal and one pivotal block. Freshman Brent Farley contributed with nine points, four boards and a block in the contest.
The Wolverines were led by All-Tournament selection Ryan Gibson who tallied 23 points, one rebound, and one steal. Andy O'Keefe, the other All-Tournament selection for the Wolverines, finished with eight points and five boards and he distributed three assists before fouling out with almost 10 minutes to play in the contest. Joe McCoy had six points, five rebounds, two assists and he grabbed a steal. Drew Vandermeer swatted away two Bluffton shots on the night.
Bluffton hit 27-of-52 (51.9 percent) from the field, while Grove City made 24-of-47 (51.1 percent). The Beavers converted 11-of-14 (78.6 percent) from the charity stripe, compared to only 4-of-6 (66.7 percent) by the Wolverines. Bluffton drained three more treys than the visitors (9-6) and it posted a 28-22 advantage on the glass. The Wolverines committed 21 miscues, eight more than the home team.
The Bluffton University men will return to action on Wednesday, January 7, 2009, when the Beavers host HCAC-rival Transylvania University. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. in Founders Hall.