Men’s Basketball Continues Impressive Season
Will Rossmiller
wross460@uwsp.edu - twitter @willrossmiller
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With only four games left in regular season play, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point men’s basketball team is playing some of its best basketball.

The team is currently on an eight-game winning streak and is undefeated in Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.

The Pointers are now the 5th ranked team in all of Division III men’s basketball, according to d3hoops.com.

“Expectations are always high here at Point, and so far I feel that we have met them, but we still have a bunch of games left so we have to keep working on getting better,” said Trevor Hass, a junior forward.

With their win last week against The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the Pointers certainly helped their case for claiming the WIAC regular season title.

Whitewater, the only other team from the WIAC ranked in the top 25, came into the game only two games back from the Pointers in the standings.

The game was close until the Pointers sealed the deal with some clutch free throws, leaving them with a three-game lead in the WIAC and only four games left in the season.

“The win was huge against Whitewater. However, we have unfinished business. We were in a similar situation last year and did not come out of it with a conference championship,” said Joe Ritchay, a sophomore guard for the Pointers.

“It was a great win, but no more important than any other conference game,” said assistant coach Kent Derbach. “This is a great conference, and every game presents a great challenge.”

The 2008-2009 season was the last time the Pointers held an undefeated record in the conference this deep into the season.

There are multiple reasons, according to Dernbach, that have led to the Pointers’ impressive winning streak.

“Somebody different has always stepped up,” Dernbach said. “Whether it is some key free throws, a big shot or even a crucial defensive possession, we manage to find a way.”

The Pointers have done a good job of spreading the offensive duties over the past eleven games since standout senior, Tyler Tillema, went down with an injury.

Dernbach says the team is going day by day with Tillema and aren’t sure when he will be back, but a multitude of players have stepped up in his place.

The Pointers have six players that average at least seven points per game. Ritchay has averaged more than 12 points per game and has grabbed 4.4 boards per contest.

Hass has added 11.4 points per game, and junior big man Clayton Heuer leads the team with 5.4 rebounds, to go along with 11.6 points per game.

The biggest surprise so far this season has been DeVon Jackson. Jackson, a junior guard, was on the team two seasons ago, but didn’t play last season.

Jackson has been back with the team the past 10 games and has made his presence felt. Jackson is averaging ten points per game coming off the bench and has brought high intensity on the defensive side of the ball.

“Having him come off the bench has been huge,” Dernbach said. “He is a true scoring threat. He can get the ball to his teammates and is a great defender.”

The Pointers have had a great season so far and know that if they put a few more pieces together they can make a special run in the NCAA tournament.

“The sky is the limit for us right now.  I think we have a great possibility of going very deep into the tournament come March,” Tillema said.