by Peter Houston-Hencken
Whitworth’s men’s basketball team claimed first place on the D3hoops.com “Top 25” list of Division III teams last Sunday. The Pirates received 15 of the 25 possible votes of D3’s panel of coaches to receive the No. 1 spot.Before reaching the top of the list, the Pirates held second place under Augustana College. However, Whitworth’s 13-0 record and 603 points set them above Augustana’s 13-1 record and 557 points.
“The guys really worked hard over the off-season to prepare themselves for a special year and we’ve been able to capitalize on that opportunity,” Head Coach Matt Logie said.
Throughout their season so far, the Pirates have managed to pull off some tremendous victories. A match against Northwest University ended with a crushing score of 84-54. However, their biggest win came from a match against Millsaps College which ended with their highest final lead yet, 86-47.
However, the Pirates had some close calls along the way as well. The Pirates suffered a defeat in an exhibition match against the University of Montana, 83-64. Luckily for the Pirates, exhibition matches are not factored in to the DIII ranking. The Pirates achieved their narrowest win in Las Vegas, Nevada at the D3hoops.com Classic. The Pirates were matched up against Calvin College in a match that ended with a score of 68-65.
“Our biggest focus is just trying to get better,” Logie said. “At the end of the year, we want to be able to look back and know that we came as close to reaching our potential, or exceeding, it as possible.”
The Pirates have found their success through the achievements of many of their athletes. Junior Christian Jurlina is the Pirates’ top scorer. Jurlina scores an average of 15.8 points per game.
Senior George Valle has also assisted the Pirates with an average of 14.3 points per game. Junior Kenny Love has continued a successful career this season. As the reigning NWC player of the year, Love has averaged 13.8 this season. Senior Matt Staudacher has also averaged double-digits. Staudacher has a season average of 10.2 points.
“I think this is arguably one of the best teams in Whitworth’s history,” Logie said. “But there’s so much yet to be determined and how that story ultimately gets written.”
The Pirates will travel to Oregon this weekend to take on Willamette University on Friday and George Fox University on Saturday. The games will begin at 8 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively.