YORK, Neb. – Head coach Ben Limback paced the sidelines for the first time at the helm of the Bulldog men’s basketball program on Friday. No. 24 York College spoiled the night by triumphing, 86-79, over visiting Concordia in York, Neb., in the season opener for both teams. The Bulldogs had hoped to duplicate their performance from last year when they topped the Panthers, 97-88.
“They are a good team. I tip my hat to them,” Limback said. “It was a good environment. We did compete. There were times when they went on runs and you don’t know how you’re going to respond as a young team. I thought we did a good job competing. We had chances in the last three minutes.”
York led the entire game but Concordia played well enough to remain within striking distance late in the game against the nationally-ranked Panthers. With lengthy sophomore Max Wegener (19 points and 10 rebounds) shining in the paint and freshman Eli Ziegler’s hot shooting, the Bulldogs came close to pulling the upset.
“I thought Max had a great second half,” Limback said. “And Eli gave us a lift off the bench.”
Concordia simply couldn’t survive its 22 turnovers that allowed York to get out and attack in transition.
“The biggest story was we had too many turnovers,” Limback said. “When you have 22 turnovers against a team like that, it’s tough. That put a lot of pressure on us defensively.”
Limback’s squad trimmed a double-digit second half deficit down to four (69-65) with 8:56 remaining when Deondre White cashed in on a shot in the lane. That capped a 13-6 run, but York followed with five-straight points and led by four or more points the rest of the way. A trey from Aaron Walker with :15 remaining closed the gap to four once again at 83-79 before three Panther free throws iced the game in the waning seconds.
Wegener topped his previous career highs of 13 points and seven rebounds with a huge second-half effort. Fellow sophomore Robby Thomas nearly posted a double-double of his own, finishing with 11 points and nine rebounds.
After York raced out to a 22-11 lead, the Bulldogs tried to rally back on the strength of their outside shooting. Ziegler sniped a trio of triples in a two-and-a-half minute stretch midway through the second half that brought Concordia within 31-23.
The Bulldogs chipped away the rest of the half and trailed 42-38 at the break. They ended the first half with a 6-1 spurt and had a late possession that offered a chance to cut into the four-point deficit.
Senior guard Adam Vogt joined Wegener and Thomas in double figures in scoring. Vogt struggled from 3-point range (1-for-8), but went 7-for-10 from the foul line and tallied 16 points.
Freshman post Chandler Folkerts of Milford, Neb., got the start in his first collegiate game and contributed four points and four rebounds. Justin Damme, another freshman big, came off the bench to deliver six points and seven boards.
York got a game high 22 points from Remi Mignott. Dylan Brewer (17 points) and Andre Vaughn (16 points) were the Panthers’ other double-figure scorers.
The Bulldogs will play another ranked opponent on Saturday as the York College Tip Off Classic comes to a conclusion. Concordia and No. 19 Bellevue will tip off at 3 p.m. from the Freeman Center. The two sides also met last year in York, where the Bruins won 84-74. Bellevue, which went 24-11 in 2012-13, opened the season with a 91-85 win over Kansas Wesleyan University on Friday.