2015-2016 Men's Basketball

18-12 Overall, 10-10 GPAC - Season Stats

GPAC men's basketball preseason poll picks 'Dogs sixth

GPAC Release

SEWARD, Neb. – The Great Plains Athletic Conference announced Wednesday, Oct. 21 the preseason coaches’ poll. Concordia University has been selected to finish sixth in the conference.

The Bulldogs will return four of their five starters from last season, two of which held the top two scoring spots on the team. A team that averaged 77.5 points a game last year will also return two all-conference recipients to the court this upcoming season.

Regular season co-champions in the GPAC from last season, Morningside and Dakota Wesleyan were picked to finish eighth and fourth, respectively. Selected to finish first was Briar Cliff who ended fourth in the conference last year.

The Concordia men’s basketball team will open its season on Saturday, Oct. 31. The game versus Johnson & Wales University will be played in Walz Arena with tipoff set for Noon. 

Place

School

Points

First Place Votes

1.

Briar Cliff

90

5

2.

Dordt

86

3

3.

Midland

77

1

4.

Dakota Wesleyan

74

2

5.

Northwestern

62

 

6.

Concordia

60

 

7.

Nebraska Wesleyan

46

 

8.

Morningside

44

 

9.

Hastings

37

 

10.

Doane

19

 

11.

Mount Marty

10

 

SEASON PREVIEW: 2015-16 men’s basketball

At a glance
2014-15 Record:
 16-15 overall, 9-11 GPAC (T-6th)
Head Coach: Ben Limback (at Concordia: 24-36, 3rd year; career: 139-194, 11 years)
Returning Starters: Chandler Folkerts (Jr.), Micah Kohlwey (Sr.), Robby Thomas (Sr.), Eli Ziegler (Jr.)
Other Key Returners: Justin Damme (Jr.), Rudy Knight (So.), Nathan Toenjes (So.), Max Wegener (Jr.), Kevin White (So.)
Key Losses: Joel Haywood
2014-15 GPAC All-Conference: Chandler Folkerts (first team), Robby Thomas (second team), Joel Haywood (honorable mention)

Season Outlook
Young and inexperienced proved a theme for the Bulldogs during head coach Ben Limback’s first season at the helm of the program in 2013-14. That’s no longer the case. Concordia returns four starters for 2015-16 and its projected lineup consists of three seniors and a pair of juniors. A team that finished 16-15 last season and gave the top dogs in the conference all they could handle down the stretch says goodbye to just one key player: four-year starter Joel Haywood.

The preseason vibe inside the program is one of anticipation and blossoming confidence. In a short time, Limback has witnessed a change in attitude.

“We’ve seen a big difference in our guys just in the preseason,” Limback said. “There’s some optimism. We have everybody back from last year’s team except for Joel Haywood. That’s where realistically I think we have different expectations going into this year than the previous seasons. That’s given us a lot of confidence the way we played down the stretch last year. I thought we were playing some pretty good basketball. The challenge is not to settle for that but to build on that.”

Optimism comes in the form first team all-conference performer Chandler Folkerts (15.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg), a bruising 6-foot-8 post, and shot blocking extraordinaire Robby Thomas (13.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.45 bpg), a 6-foot-7 wing who can step out and shoot. There are also returning starters in the backcourt in sharpshooter Eli Ziegler (8.7 ppg, .447 3-pt FG%) and lockdown stopper Micah Kohlwey (7.7 ppg, .378 3-pt FG%).

Plus Limback has an answer for the departure of Haywood, a member of the program’s 1,000-point club. Enter Wayne State College transfer and Ypsilanti, Mich., native Jamie Pearson, a 6-foot-2 point guard who played in 12 games last season as a Wildcat. Pearson will provide minutes at the point and could at times play alongside another transfer in 6-foot-5 guard Kyle Pierce, who joins the program after two years at Northeastern Junior College.

The Bulldogs will have the ability to go a dozen deep if Limback so chooses. A frontcourt loaded with depth includes 6-foot-10 junior Justin Damme (3.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg), 6-foot-7 sophomore Nathan Toenjes (2.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg) and the player Limback calls the team’s X-factor, 6-foot-9 junior Max Wegener, who has been sidelined by injury for most of the past two seasons.

The options don’t end there. Sophomore guards Rudy Knight (6.9 ppg, .408 3-pt FG%) and Kevin White (3.9 ppg) both saw extensive action last season as rookies and are ready to take a step forward in their development. They are part of a group with plenty of weaponry.

“Looking at all our weapons, the toughest part is going to be how we can get them all to work together in a unit,” Thomas said. “I think one thing that helps is we’re really close on and off the court. It’s really easy to share the ball with guys I love like brothers. I know they feel the same way.”

Last season Concordia shared the ball well enough to average 77.5 points per game – the highest figure for the program since the 2003-04 campaign. This year’s squad figures to be even more dynamic its inside-outside balance. Folkerts made a name for himself during a three-game stretch last year in which he averaged 25.7 points and 8.0 rebounds and shot 75 percent from the floor on the way to earning national player of the week recognition.

Handling Concordia’s multi-skilled frontcourt will be a chore for this season’s opponents. Says Limback, “Our frontcourt is extremely big and extremely long. They’re working hard. That’s what I love about this team, especially our big guys. They come ready to work and ready to compete against each other every day.”

Concordia’s length is bound to change shots on the other end. Last year Thomas broke a program single-season record with 71 blocks and the Bulldogs ranked sixth among all NAIA Division II teams in rejections.

They also ranked 10th nationally in 3-point field goal percentage (.395). Ziegler shot nearly 45 percent from long distance and provided one of the season’s most memorable moments when he nailed a long buzzer-beating trey to lift Concordia to a 76-74 win at Northwestern. Ziegler is one of many players who can fill it up from downtown.

“We should score points,” Limback said. “I’m confident of that. Now it’s defensively getting guys to buy into the other side of the floor and understand the importance of it. We’re not going to score 120 points every night so we have to defend much better than we have in practice. They know that.”

One key to better perimeter defense could be the play of Pearson. Now at his third college stop, Pearson will look to make the most of his final season of eligibility.

“Jamie can really do a lot of great things,” Limback said. “He’s a very, very explosive athlete. He can score it. He can defend. I think he’s in for a great season as well. He’s going to provide a big lift for us from the point guard position.”

For a guy like Thomas who’s been in the program since 2012, these are starkly different times for Concordia men’s basketball. During the Thomas years, the Bulldogs have gone from six wins in 2012-13 to eight wins in 2013-14 to 16 wins in 2015-16. Another uptick is expected with momentum-building road victories over No. 3 Northwood University and No. 12 Midland still fresh on their minds.

“This season definitely has a different feel to it, especially for the upperclassmen with some of us who have been around for some rough years,” Thomas said. “Now this year coming off a winning season we can really build on what we did last year. We’re bringing back just about all of our pieces and bringing in some new pieces, too. It’s exciting. We feel this is a team that can really do something.”

Limback cautions against measuring success simply based upon wins and losses, but his ultimate vision sees the Bulldogs returning to the top of the GPAC and advancing to the national tournament. A number of variables cited by the third-year leader (health, chemistry and coaching) will determine whether this year’s squad puts together a special season.

“The expectation is we want to get to that level at the national scene,” Limback said. “I think we have the talent and abilities to do it. Now we just have to determine: do we have the effort, attention to detail and the daily grind that we need to see?”

The Bulldogs officially open their season on Saturday (Oct. 31) when they host Johnson & Wales University (Colo.) inside Walz Arena at 12 p.m. CT. The conference season opens up on Nov. 18 with a trip to Hastings.


Bulldog basketball opens season with 40 point win

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia men’s basketball team posted up a big win over Johnson & Wales on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs, only down by one early in the tilt, led for the majority and won, 89-49. All 15 Bulldogs saw action during the victory.

Head coach Ben Limback said, “On defense, I really liked our effort, I liked our communication. We’ve got to adjust to the way their calling the game, there were a lot of fouls, we’ve got to clean that up. Defensively we’ve been harping on that since the beginning of the season. This team buys in defensively and I liked their effort and focus, but we’ve got to clean up some things on our end and we’ll do that in practice.”

Defense was a big part of the Bulldogs’ game as they marked up five steals and swatted away eight Wildcat shots. Concordia was also able to force 19 JWU turnovers, scoring nine points off of those. The CUNE defense held the Wildcats to a .254 field goal percentage.

On the offensive side, the Bulldogs shot 55 percent, with junior Chandler Folkerts leading the way. The Milford native went 7-11 from the field and 5-6 from the free throw line, racking up a game-high 19 points. Folkerts also posted eight rebounds and three blocks.

Said Folkerts,”It was really great, we’ve been waiting a long time after a month of practice. It was great to finally play a different team. We ran really well. Guys found me on a lot of dump passes and it was just an all-around great effort by everybody.”

Also scoring in double digits for Concordia was Robby Thomas (14) and Eli Ziegler (10). Thomas led the Bulldogs in rebounds with nine and in steals with three. Senior transfer Jamie Pearson and senior Micah Kowhlwey each dished out five assists. Kowhlwey put up seven points while Pearson contributed six.

“We have guys that compete every day in practice,” Limback noted. “To get everybody in today was awesome. We have great depth and they compete when they go in there. I think Max (Wegner) and Nathan (Toenjes) give us a big lift off the bench and a lot of guys stepped up today.”

Scoring 28 points, the Bulldog bench showed up in a big way in the competition on Saturday. The reserves also grabbed 28 combined rebounds and half of the eight blocks. Leading scorer off the bench was Kyle Pierce who added nine points to the Bulldogs’ total.

The Bulldogs open the season 1-0, 0-0 GPAC after the win while the Wildcats fall to 1-1 this year.

On upcoming play against No. 8 Bellevue University, Limback said, “We’ve got to be ready and clean up some of the stuff we did today. They’re (Bellevue) a well-coached team and play hard defensively. We’re expecting a great battle…it’ll be a great test for us.”

The Concordia men’s basketball team will compete in the Cattle Classic next Friday and Saturday, Nov. 6-7. The Bulldogs’ first opponent will be No. 8 Bellevue University on Friday, Nov. 6. The tilt will take place at 8 p.m. inside Walz Arena.

Pearson takeover drives Bulldogs past No. 8 Bellevue

SEWARD, Neb. – Point guard Jamie Pearson played the role of one-man wrecking crew in propelling the Concordia University men’s basketball team to a 97-96 overtime win over eighth-ranked Bellevue University on Friday night at the 16th annual Cattle Classic. Pearson got impossibly hot after halftime and fueled a second-half comeback from 14 points down. The Wayne State transfer totaled 37 points and dropped in the game winner in the final seconds of overtime.

The victory marked the second over a top 10 team in as many seasons for third-year head coach Ben Limback’s program. The Bulldogs are 2-0 for the first time under Limback’s guidance.

“I’m proud of Jamie,” Limback said. “I’m proud of how he stepped up constantly tonight. We needed it. I felt like we were out of sync. We didn’t have any flow tonight, but I’m just so proud of him and the work he’s put in. Moments like this are something special. Jamie was a monster tonight.”

Leading 96-95, the Bruins committed a shot clock violation with :12.8 left in overtime. After a Concordia timeout, Micah Kohlwey inbounded the ball to Pearson, who took it the length of the court and rolled home a floater with 5.8 seconds remaining. Bellevue failed to get up a shot on its final possession and the party was on.

Pearson said the scoring outburst was his highest since high school. If Bulldogs fans did not know of the Ypsilanti, Mich., native before, they do now.

“I’ve got some good teammates,” Pearson said. “A lot of guys can get it done, it was just my turn to step up. It was all for the team. Every day we just try to get better, get a win and move onto the next one.”

Bellevue had seemingly taken control with a 9-0 second-half run that answered a Chandler Folkerts trey. On the strength of a more balanced scoring attack (five players in double figures), the Bruins built a 74-60 lead with less than 9:30 left in regulation.

In a performance for the ages, Pearson sank 28 of Concordia’s last 40 points over the final 14:46 of game time, including the overtime session. During that stretch he nailed six of his seven treys on the night and saved his biggest buckets for the end. With the Bulldogs down 96-92 with under two minutes left in overtime, Pearson stepped up and buried a long trey. After two late defensive stops, the star point guard emerged with the game winner.

“I really liked how our guys kept fighting through. It was just a gutsy performance,” Limback said. “Bellevue’s an outstanding team. They shot the lights out. We had no answer at times other than Jamie Pearson.”

Concordia’s first win over Bellevue since the 2004-05 season did not come without a struggle. The Bruins connected on 14 triples of their own, including five from TeShon Burton (team high 20 points). Bellevue, which has made 13-straight NAIA national tournament appearances, led nearly the entire night. The Bulldogs’ largest advantage the all evening was two points.

Lost in the spectacle of Pearson’s heroics was a fine night by Folkerts, who finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Senior Robby Thomas also turned in a double-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Concordia shot 52.9 percent for the game compared to 44.4 percent shooting by Bellevue.

“Oh yeah, you guys already know about him,” Pearson said of Folkerts. “I don’t have to say too much about him. He’s a big beast down there.”

The Cattle Classic resumes on Saturday with another four games. The Bulldogs will tip off at 3 p.m. against Mayville State University (N.D.), a member of the NAIA’s North Star Athletic Association. On Friday the Comets got past York College, 73-69, in a contest that also went to overtime.

Concordia comes out of Cattle Classic unblemished

By Taylor Mueller, Athletic Communications Student Assistant

SEWARD, Neb. – It certainly was not the prettiest win, but head coach Ben Limback will take it.

Despite offensive struggles and seeing a 17 point lead diminish, the Concordia Bulldogs capped off an impressive Cattle Conference Classic weekend with a 62-51 victory over Mayville State.

Just a night removed from a thriller of an upset over 8th ranked Bellevue, the Bulldogs overcame fatigue and an emotional hangover to scrap out a defensive slugfest against the visiting Comets.

“Last night we kind of expected emotionally to be let down there and have weak legs and fatigue set in. Both teams were just gutting it out,” Limback said. “They’re very physical, they’ve got some good size and they disrupted us finishing but we told our guys, I liked how we finished down the stretch and not having a three ball hit today, but to be able to win and take care of business was good. We have a lot to improve on, we really do.”

Neither the Bulldogs nor the Comets were able to establish a strong sense of momentum early on as they traded baskets through the first 12 minutes of the game. Senior Micah Kohlwey put the Bulldogs back in front, however with a two-point bucket to give Concordia a one-point advantage. The Bulldogs used a 15-4 run to close the half and extend their lead to 11 points which they carried into the locker room at the half.

The offensive struggles continued in the second half, however, as the Bulldogs, leading 41-24 at the 15 minute mark of the second half, scored just one point over the next seven and a half minutes. The Comets tied the game at 42 apiece with 7:39 left to play. However, a two-point shot by senior Robby Thomas ended the scoring drought and put the Bulldogs ahead by two points, a lead that they would hold on to and build on for the remainder of the game.

“We were playing our game pretty much for most of the game and then there was one stretch where we kind of let up defensively and we let them back in it,” Thomas said. “We just got back to being aggressive when we started pulling away there. We were going to the free throw line more and we were playing more aggressive on defense and started making some shots and the game just went back our way.”

Thomas led the Bulldogs with 16 points and eight rebounds to go along with a couple assists.

“He had a good game,” Limback said of Thomas. “He had no turnovers tonight, five blocks, rebounds very well, did last night too. He was big for us, played a lot of minutes both games. He’s a great athlete.”

Junior Chandler Folkerts added 14 points a five boards for the Bulldogs while senior Jamie Pearson contributed 18 points and five assists.

Shooting just 38 percent from the field and going only 4-11 from the three point line, the Bulldogs relied on their defense to come through and make crucial stops down the road.

“I think it’s pretty evident that we’ve improved defensively,” Thomas said. “They were uncomfortable pretty much all night on offense and we know that if we’re not scoring we can get stops and effect the game defensively too.”

Concordia will take a week to prepare for their upcoming match against Kansas Wesleyan University on Sat. Nov. 14 at 3:00 p.m. at Walz Arena in Seward. 

Bulldogs rattle off first 4-0 start since 2004-05

Bulldogs rattle off first 4-0 start since 2004-05

SEWARD, Neb. – For the first time since its 2004-05 national runner-up campaign, the Concordia University men’s basketball program has begun a season with four-straight victories. The Bulldogs remained unbeaten thanks to a 93-67 win over visiting Kansas Wesleyan University on Saturday afternoon. The standout duo of Chandler Folkerts and Jamie Pearson combined for 36 points in the victory.

Third-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad owns wins over Johnson & Wales (Colo.), No. 8 Bellevue, Mayville State (N.D.) and Kansas Wesleyan. Limback has effectively used a deep roster to fuel the 4-0 start.

“We have a lot of guys that can really play,” Limback said. “It’s just about finding the right combinations. They work hard every day in practice. I like the mindset from our guys. It’s one of those things where every night somebody else can step up.”

A 25-7 run that began late in the first half and spilled into the second half gave Concordia a cozy 51-33 advantage. Folkerts punctuated the spurt with a two-handed flush off the drive and pitch from Micah Kohlwey. Folkerts’ work on the inside, in addition to Concordia’s dead-eye free throw shooting (21-for-24, 87.5 percent), allowed for a 26-point victory margin despite cold 3-point shooting (6-for-21).

The Coyotes had hopes of stealing a road victory when their 15-5 run tied the score at 26-26 with 4:39 left in the first half. But Pearson followed with a quick triple and the Bulldogs dominated the rest of the way. The second half then turned into a clinic with Concordia consistently making its way into the paint for point-blank buckets. The Bulldogs held a 38-16 advantage in points in the lane.

Kansas Wesleyan (1-3) struggled to contain Concordia’s stars. Folkerts went 7-for-10 from the floor while adding six rebounds and three blocks. Pearson posted 17 points and dropped five dimes. Folkerts and Pearson combined to go 12-for-12 from the foul line.

Fourteen of the 16 Bulldogs to see action registered in the scoring column. Eli Ziegler joined Folkerts and Pearson in double figures with 10 points. Nathan Toenjes and Max Wegener chipped in eight points apiece off the bench.

The Concordia reserves accounted for 40 of the team’s 93 points.

“I think it’s working out really well,” said Toenjes of his role. “Our rotation works out. It’s not a problem at all when our starters get tired. We don’t lose anything coming in with our next guys.”

Kansas Wesleyan’s Dominique Johnson had come off a combined 59 points in his previous two games. He managed just six points on Saturday. The Coyotes, a member of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, got a team high 13 points off the bench from Keion Criswell.

Concordia committed only 12 turnovers while Kansas Wesleyan had 20. The Bulldogs outshot the Coyotes, 47.8 percent to 40.0, and outrebounded them, 42-34.

The two teams also met a year ago in a contest played in Salina, Kan. Concordia rallied for an 85-72 win after trailing by as many as 23 points in the 2014-15 season opener.

The Bulldogs will take their unblemished record into next week’s conference action. The Bulldogs open up GPAC play with a trip to Hastings (4-2) on Wednesday. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m.

Three-pronged attack bludgeons Mount Marty

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team weathered Mount Marty’s hot outside shooting and rolled up a 94-79 victory inside Walz Arena on Saturday afternoon. The visiting Lancers, winless in conference play, had no answer for the three-headed Bulldog monster of Chandler Folkerts, Jamie Pearson and Robby Thomas.

The win completed a perfect 2-0 week at home for third-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad, which is now 8-3 overall and 4-3 against GPAC competition.

“You have to hand it to them. They made some threes and stuck it to us,” Limback said. “We just never could pull away. Offensively, I have no doubt we can score.”

Mount Marty (1-10, 0-5 GPAC) struggled all afternoon to match up with Folkerts inside. The 6-foot-8 big man went a perfect 10-for-10 from the field and 3-for-3 from the foul line on his way to 23 points. He may have had a career day if not for foul trouble that limited him to 25 minutes.

Folkerts simply passed the baton to Thomas in the second half. Thomas had his way in the paint in a dominant effort that saw him go for 19 of his 24 points over the game’s closing 20 minutes. At one point Thomas geared up to pound a monster one-handed jam, only to be fouled hard at the rim.

“A lot of it was teammates being able to draw defenders away,” Thomas said. “I got a lot of open shots with them keying in on Jamie and Chandler. They just got me the ball in a good spot to score in.”

Thomas’ production was key as Mount Marty staged an 11-0 run midway through the second half. Patrick Ciganovic capped the spurt with a deep catch-and-shoot triple that got the Lancers within nine (72-63). Eli Ziegler quickly answered with his fourth trey of the game. Just a 32.5 percent 3-point shooting team entering the day, Mount Marty kept competitive by living on the three ball (13-for-28). The Lancers got as close as eight points (79-71) with under eight minutes remaining.

Even with KJ DeCristino and Cody Willettt bombing away, Mount Marty failed to get enough stops to avoid its 30th-straight conference defeat. The Bulldogs converted on 63.5 percent (33-for-52) of their field goal attempts and equaled the Lancers’ 13 3-point field goals. Pearson and Ziegler both knocked down four treys and Thomas went 3-for-3 from the 3-point range (8-for-8 overall from the field).

Folkerts (994 career points) may have joined the program’s 1,000-point club if not for foul trouble. The Milford native picked up his fourth foul at the 15:59 mark of the second half and retreated to the bench. He sat for nearly 10 minutes before returning to the floor. Pearson (21 points) joined Folkerts and Thomas as 20-point scorers.

Concordia’s terrific trio averages a combined 55.7. They added up to 68 on Saturday to fend off upset-minded Mount Marty.

“We were playing great on offense,” Thomas said. “Our movement was good. We were knocking down a lot of shots and we came out with the win.”

DeCristino led all scorers with 25 points (10-for-19 shooting). The Lancers shot 50 percent (27-for-54) from the floor on a day that featured an impressive offensive display on both sides.

The Bulldogs will play once more before Christmas when they travel to Sioux Center, Iowa, for next Friday’s (Dec. 18) matchup with Dordt (8-6, 4-3 GPAC). The Bulldogs defeated the Defenders, 100-95, in overtime on Wednesday. Both teams are receiving votes in the national poll.

Folkerts, Knight post career highs in overtime loss

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – In a game that seemed destined to be a Dordt runaway victory, the Concordia University men’s basketball team put together a furious rally on the strength of career nights from Chandler Folkerts and Rudy Knight. Unfortunately, the team’s fourth overtime game of the season ended in heartbreak when Bryan Sumner beat the buzzer with a layup that lifted the Defenders to a 104-102 win.

Third-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad fell victim to a Dordt squad that has yet to lose at home (7-0). The Bulldogs dropped to 8-4 overall and 4-4 in league action.

“It’s one of those where you don’t know what to tell (the team),” Limback said. “They had an edge to them. They had a chip on their shoulder. They got into a rhythm offensively.

“I was so proud of our guys during that segment (in the second half). That’s how we should play. I’m just disappointed that we lost and disappointed with how we played in the first half.”

Concordia fell behind by as many as 24 points in the first half and still trailed by 19 with fewer than eight-and-a-half minutes left in regulation. Folkerts, who became the 27th member of the program’s 1,000-point club on Friday, went to work. His monster night (33 points, 13 rebounds) included 11 points over the final eight minutes of regulation. Folkerts’ bucket in the closing minute tied the score at 90-90 and sent the contest into overtime.

Limback rode Knight (career high 22 points) at the point guard spot and he delivered. His whirling, twirling layups helped Concordia build a 98-92 overtime lead. The Bulldogs took a punch from Dordt and answered with Knight’s three-point play that provided a 102-97 advantage.

“Rudy came in and gave us what we needed,” Limback said. “He’s the one who sparked us in the second half – and Chandler was consistent in both halves. He made plays for us and that’s what leaders do. I feel like he’s coming on as a leader. And I loved the way Rudy played.”

But Sumner’s heroics helped the Defenders (9-6, 5-3 GPAC) avenge their 100-95 overtime loss in Seward nine days earlier. Sumner followed Knight’s old-fashioned three with a triple. Dordt then got two key stops to set the stage for the game winner that left 0.5 seconds on the clock.

Few would have expected Concordia to be in position to win after it went to halftime down 60-38. The Defenders shot 63.6 percent in the first half and drilled eight treys. Leighton Sampson (24 points, 10 rebounds) and his teammates appeared unstoppable, but an energized second-half defensive performance by the Bulldogs spurred the stunning rally.

Junior Eli Ziegler added 16 points, including four in overtime. Two others also reached double figures in scoring for Concordia: Jamie Pearson (12 points) and Robby Thomas (11 points, seven rebounds, three blocks). The balanced bunch powered an attack that shot 60.3 percent (41-for-68) from the field.

The Defenders also had five players score 10 points or more. Dalton Franken dropped in 22 and Sumner (5-for-9 from 3-point range) finished with 19. Dordt slumped to 43.5 percent in the second half but finished at 54.5 percent overall. It went 13-for-22 (.591) from 3-point range.

The Bulldogs will break for Christmas before flying to California for a pair of games in Redding, Dec. 29-30. The opponents will be Simpson University (2-10) and No. 23 Cal Maritime (7-5).

Folkerts tabbed GPAC player of the week

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second time in his career, junior Chandler Folkerts has been named GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Men’s Basketball Player of the Week. A first team all-conference selection in 2014-15, the native of Milford, Neb., received both GPAC and NAIA national player of the week accolades back on Jan. 6, 2015.

Folkerts played a starring role in leading the Bulldogs back from a 24-point deficit to force overtime in last week’s 104-102 overtime loss at Dordt. The 6-foot-8 post posted a career high 33 points while equaling a season high with 13 rebounds. He made 14-of-18 shots from the field on the way to becoming the program’s 27th member of the 1,000-point club. Folkerts totaled 11 of his points over the final eight minutes of regulation at Dordt.

On the season, Folkerts is averaging 18.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. His .642 field goal percentage ranks fifth best among all qualifying NAIA Division II players. In his career as a Bulldog, Folkerts has amassed 1,027 points and 445 rebounds over 72 games.

Folkerts and the Bulldogs (8-4) return to action next week when they play Simpson University on Dec. 29 and California State University Maritime on Dec. 30. Both games will take place on Simpson’s campus, located in Redding, Calif.

'Dogs take one in Cali

REDDING, Calif. – The (RV) Concordia men’s basketball team prevailed in its first of two contests in California on Tuesday night. The Bulldogs displayed a 74-52 win over Simpson University, led by 22 points from Robby Thomas.

CUNE, now 9-4 on the season, gave Simpson its 11th loss of the season. The Red Hawks drop to 2-11.

Head coach Ben Limback said, “It was good to play…we struggled in the first half offensively and with the control to finish inside. I really like our defensive effort tonight. I thought we were active, we got on the floor for loose balls.”

Concordia shot .430 from the field and .379 from behind the arc as a team. Defensively, the ‘Dogs held the Red Hawks to .350 from the field. However, from the 3-point range, Simpson went 5-11 for a .454 percentage.

CUNE took advantage of 22 Red Hawk turnovers and converted them into 22 points. The ‘Dogs out-rebounded the Hawks, 45-34 and swatted away six blocks.

Limback noted, “We talked about how great teams, when they don’t do well offensively, whether it’s shooting the three or finishing inside, great teams continue to defend and get things done defensively until they start scoring…I was proud of the guys for their defensive effort.”

In addition to the 22 tallies from Thomas, the senior also grabbed six rebounds. The senior is now 40 points away from 1,000 career points.

Player of the game, Eli Ziegler scored 14 points and added nine rebounds. Coming off the bench, Max Wegener contributed 13 points, going 6-6 from the field, and five rebounds. The 13 points were a season high for the junior.

“Robby led us in scoring with 22 and had a great game offensively and defensively, he was very active. And Eli, I thought that his motive was really good and was really competitive. Max was perfect off the bench. It was one of those things where he came in and gave us a good lift in the first half when we needed it,” Limback said.

The Bulldogs showed depth in their reserves with 11 student-athletes marking up 26 points from the bench.

“We got to see them (California State University-Maritime) play in the first game tonight,” Limback said on upcoming play. “They play hard. They have good athleticism and a good bench and depth. So it’ll be a good game and I feel like we have to bounce back and recover for tomorrow…we’re excited about tomorrow afternoon.”

The Bulldogs will face California State University-Maritime on Wednesday. The Keelhaulers, 7-5 on the season and the ‘Dogs will tip off at 6 p.m. CDT.

Defense dogs No. 23 Cal Maritime

REDDING, Calif. – Playing in The Golden State for the second-straight day, the Concordia University men’s basketball team pounced on 23rd-ranked California Maritime Academy with a blistering first half that left the Keehaulers in the dust. The Bulldogs rode 60 percent first-half shooting to a 75-48 victory on Wednesday evening in a contest played on the campus of Simpson University in Redding, Calif.

Third-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad finished off a perfect 2-0 California road trip while improving to 10-4 overall. The Bulldogs now own a pair of wins over ranked opponents (No. 8 Bellevue and Cal Maritime).

Known as a prolific offensive team, Concordia used its best defensive effort of the season (season low 48 points allowed) to rule the day. Cal Maritime managed to shoot just 27.1 percent (16-for-59) from the field.

“We were very active and our length, I think, really bothered both opponents (in California), especially today,” Limback said. “We had a good size advantage today. Defensively we did a good job using that length to disrupt their offense. The guys just played hard. When we guard this well we can have an off night offensively.”

Concordia blitzed the Keehaulers early with its marksmanship from the perimeter. The nation’s ninth-ranked shooting team (.500) buried triples on three-straight possessions and built a 21-6 lead early in the first half. The Bulldogs maintained a double-digit advantage the rest of the way. Thanks to its stingy defense, Concordia got by just fine despite slumping to 32 percent (8-for-25) shooting in the second half.

Cal Maritime’s top three scorers on the year – Zach Davis, Daniel Radford and Kameron Hoyt – were a combined 5-for-27 from the floor. Roman Delgado paced the Keelhaulers (8-6) with 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting.

On the other end, Concordia got big man Chandler Folkerts (game high 19 points) involved from the opening whistle. Folkerts made 8-of-11 shots and snared seven boards. Jamie Pearson and Micah Kohlwey tallied 12 points apiece. Senior Robby Thomas filled the stat sheet with seven points, six boards, five assists, three blocks and a steal. Seth Curran (eight points) came off the bench and knocked home a pair of treys.

Other than a bout of cold shooting in the second half on Wednesday, there wasn’t a whole lot for Limback to nitpick. He believes the California foray is something his squad can build upon.

“We wanted to make memories and bond as a team,” Limback said. “That’s a big part of these trips – building team togetherness – and we wanted to get two wins. Nobody got injured. It really couldn’t have gone any better. It was one of those trips that hopefully the seniors will never forget.”

Concordia shot 46.0 percent (23-for-50) overall and had positive turnover (16-14) and rebound (44-39) margins. Seven different individuals had at least one steal as Limback’s crew won away from home for the third time this season.

A day earlier the Bulldogs pummeled host Simpson, 74-52, behind 22 points from Thomas. On Monday Concordia had the opportunity to attend the Golden State-Sacramento NBA game in Oakland. The team will depart from California on Thursday morning.

The Bulldogs draw another ranked opponent on Saturday when No. 12 Briar Cliff (14-2, 5-1 GPAC) visits Seward for a 4 p.m. tipoff. The GPAC-leading Chargers have won 11-straight meetings with Concordia. In appreciation for Seward community fans, admission will not be charged.

(RV) Bulldogs suffer loss from No. 12 Chargers despite Folkert's second half burst

SEWARD, Neb. – The (RV) Concordia men’s basketball team, coming off two wins in California, battled it out with the No. 12 Briar Cliff Chargers in Walz Arena on Saturday afternoon. Despite 21 points from Chandler Folkerts in the second half, the Bulldogs were handed a 90-82 loss.

CUNE is now 10-5 overall and 4-5 in GPAC play this year while BCU improves to 15-2, 6-1 GPAC.

Head coach Ben Limback said, “The first half we turned it over too much and allowed them to get to the free throw line too often and that kind of set the tone. We had some guys in foul trouble right away.”

As a team, the ‘Dogs shot .249 (30-70) from the field compared to the Chargers’ .474 (27-57) percentage. Behind the arc, Briar Cliff again outshot Concordia, 36.4 percent to 31.0 percent. At the free throw stripe, the Bulldogs shot 81.3 percent while BCU reached an 84.8 percentage.

In the rebounding category, the Bulldogs edged the Chargers 43-32 while the latter held the advantage in steals, 10-7.

Leading scorer, Folkerts recorded his fourth double-double of the season, racking up 21 points and 15 rebounds. The junior also added three assists and three blocks to his line.

“Chandler had a good second half,” Limback noted. “We missed a couple bunnies inside but I liked his effort.”

Also scoring in the double digits for the Bulldogs was Robby Thomas (14) who tacked on seven rebounds, six assists and one block. Thomas is now averaging 14.2 points per contest and needs just 33 more to crack the 1,000 point milestone.

Senior Jamie Pearson put up 12 points, three rebounds and three assists on the night. 

Facing its largest deficit late in the first half, Concordia fought back from a 40-25 setback to bring Briar Cliff’s lead down to nine. The Bulldogs went on a 9-4 run to end the half, with four of those points coming off of Charger turnovers.

“In the second half I thought we defended them a little bit better but still they got to the rim on penetration. We really have to be able to score and shoot well…with a good team like this you have to shoot better and not make mistakes,” said Limback.

The Bulldogs came out of the break riding the momentum from the end of the previous half. Within five minutes, Folkerts tied the game at 51. The contest went into a back and forth battle with CUNE taking the lead eight times and tying it up three more times. With the score tied with just under nine minutes to play, the Chargers fought back to ensure an eight point win.

Limback said, “In order to win these games you have to make those little plays down the stretch and we just didn’t do it tonight. We’ll get back after it this week.”

The (RV) Concordia men’s basketball team will return to the court on Wednesday, Jan. 6. The Bulldogs will travel to Midland University for an 8 p.m. tipoff.

Furious second-half rally falls short

FREMONT, Neb. – In a contest eerily similar to the one played at Dordt on Dec. 18, the Concordia University men’s basketball team nearly dug out of a 25-point second half hole in Wednesday night’s GPAC tussle at the Midland Event Center. Ultimately, the host Warriors rode the playmaking skills of senior guard Jesse Jones to a 78-75 victory.

Meanwhile, third-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad fell for the third-straight time in conference action. The Bulldogs slumped to 10-6 overall and 4-6 in conference play. Midland improved to 8-8 overall and 5-3 in league action.

“We talked at halftime about identifying where to go with the basketball and how to play better as a team,” Limback said. “Once we started to make our run we started to share the ball better. Obviously the zone disrupted them and got them on their heels. The biggest key was their run in the first half. We have to be tougher. We have to be able to play our style of basketball.”

A nailbiting finish appeared out of the question when Alex Starkel’s layup pushed Midland’s advantage to 57-32 early in the second half. But like it did just a few weeks earlier, Concordia showed guts on the road in putting together a 20-2 run. Eli Ziegler nailed a pair of treys as one of five Bulldogs to score during the splurge.

At the 3:07 mark of the second half, Concordia got within one (69-68) when Micah Kohlwey notched his first points with a left-wing triple. About a minute-and-a-half later the Bulldogs, then down 72-70, squandered an opportunity to take the lead when Robby Thomas misfired on a 3-pointer.

Jones responded immediately thereafter with a crossover, step-back three that left a Concordia defender tied up on the floor. Jones then made 3-of-4 free throws in the final 10 seconds and Midland breathed a sigh of relief when Chandler Folkerts’ three-quarter court heave clanged off the rim at the final gun.

Folkerts’ continued dominance in the paint helped lead the Bulldogs back from the depths of a 25-point deficit. He tallied 18 of the team’s first 35 points and finished with his second-straight double-double (24 points and 10 rebounds) and 14th of his career. The inside-out game of Folkerts and Ziegler spurred Concordia to 63.0 percent (17-for-27) second-half shooting.

The Warriors stole the spotlight in the opening half with highlight reel plays provided by Jones and senior jumping jack Harold Ridgeway (12 points off the bench), who threw down a pair of thunder dunks. Jones burned the Bulldogs for a game high 26 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the floor. He added seven rebounds, six assists and four steals. Starkel chipped in 14 points and seven boards.

Jones and company found buckets tougher to come by in the second half in the face of Concordia’s 2-3 zone. The Warriors shot 46.0 percent (29-for-63) overall but only 41.4 percent (12-for-29) over the final 20 minutes. Midland was stuck on 57 points for almost a five-minute period during the second half. The Bulldogs finished at 50.9 percent (29-for-57).

“It really helped our offense when we got in the zone,” Limback said. “We got a couple of deflections that led to points in transition. Even when we got in our halfcourt offense in the second half, we were moving the ball and screening for each other. We were over 60 percent in the second half. That just shows our shot selection compared to the first half.”

The Bulldogs will be back on the road on Saturday when they take on Northwestern (9-8, 3-5 GPAC). Tipoff from the Bultman Center in Orange City, Iowa, is slated for 4 p.m. In last season’s matchup at Northwestern, Concordia pulled off the road win courtesy of an Eli Ziegler game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

Bulldogs take victory heading into CIT weekend

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia men’s basketball team has bounced back after a three game losing streak and defeated its second GPAC opponent in a row. The Bulldogs claimed a victory over Doane College, 89-81 Wednesday night thanks to a lofty .588 shooting percentage from Concordia.

Concordia improves to 13-9 overall and 7-8 in the GPAC. Doane drops to 8-15 overall and 4-10 in the conference.

Head coach Ben Limback said, “I thought we did a good job. Defensively at times, we needed keep them (Doane) out of the paint. Offensively, we got in a good rhythm. There was pretty good balance. Kyle Pierce gave us some great minutes off the bench, I thought he was accurate at both ends and really gave us a spark…It’s good to get a win here at home and in the conference.”

The Bulldogs shot .588 from the field (30-51) and .294 from behind the arc (5-17). Concordia’s defense held the Tigers to a 40.5 percent field goal mark. The ‘Dogs outrebounded Doane 35-22.

Leading the Bulldogs in scoring was Robby Thomas, tallying 22 points. Thomas also tacked on five rebounds and three assists. Also scoring above 10 points were Jamie Pearson (16), Pierce (16) and Chandler Folkerts (15). Pearson was the front runner in rebounds with seven boards.

Despite being double-teamed most of the time, Folkerts found a way around the defenders and pushed in 15 points, including a dunk with an assist from Pearson. The ‘Dogs favored the paint in the contest with 50 of their points coming from inside.

Pierce said, “It’s nice to get back and get to playing again after I had a little break. It’s also good to get two wins in a row and a big win over Doane. We really took it to them the whole game.”

After the first half, Concordia had missed just nine shots from the field and shot a sweltering 65.4 percent. Thomas had already amassed 11 points, contributing to the Bulldogs’ 47-35 lead.

“We wanted to push in transition and get defensive stops that lead to offense. Some guys really played hard and stepped up,” Limback said.

The only time the Tigers narrowed the Bulldogs’ lead to less than 10 in the second stanza was with the last shot of the game. Trevor Cyboron of Doane drained a 3-pointer to set the final score.

On the upcoming Concordia Invitational Tournament, Pierce said, “We don’t know exactly what to expect. Their records don’t exactly show how good they are, they’re good teams. We’ll face some pretty good opponents. We’re excited for the opportunity.”

The Concordia men’s basketball team will face Concordia Ann Arbor at CIT on Friday. The Bulldogs and Cardinals have a 3:15 p.m. start time slated for their first game of the tournament taking place at Concordia University Chicago.

“This was a really strong effort and a good thing to have going into the Concordia Invitational Tournament,” Limback said. “It’s a great environment, great opportunity and a fun time for the guys and everyone involved.”

Bulldogs sizzle in second half of CIT blowout

SEWARD, Neb. – A second half explosion propelled the Concordia University men’s basketball team to the CIT title game for the fifth-straight season. The Bulldogs shot 60 percent over the final 20 minutes and exacted revenge on Concordia University Ann Arbor by way of an 85-65 victory in River Forest, Ill., on Friday afternoon.

Ben Limback, who led CUAA to its first two CIT titles during his previous coaching stop, will aim for his fourth CIT championship as a head coach. CUNE has won three-straight games to move its overall record to 14-9.

“When we take care of the ball and multiple guys touch it, good things happen,” Limback said. “Offensively and defensively, we’re so long and athletic it’s about making the smart plays. We had to maintain aggressiveness.”

The firepower of Chandler Folkerts inside and Jamie Pearson outside dashed CUAA’s hopes of winning a second-straight CIT title. With the Cardinals chirping and on a 5-0 mini run, Pearson buried a corner trey that sparked CUNE’s offensive onslaught. Folkerts highlighted the 32-12 surge with a monster throwdown while being contacted by a CUAA defender. The Cardinals couldn’t stop the Bulldog roll and the lead ballooned to as many as 24 points.

CUNE put together a rock-solid effort that included perfect 20-for-20 foul shooting. The Bulldogs owned the boards, outnumbering CUAA 40-26. CUNE shot 55.6 percent (30-for-54) from the field compared to 39.3 percent (24-for-61) shooting by the Cardinals.

CUAA (10-13) struggled gaining traction against the Bulldogs’ interior defense (seven blocked shots). Senior Robby Thomas broke Glen Snodgrass’ program career blocks record with a pair of rejections on Friday. Thomas, who hails from Shawnee, Kan., now has 189 career blocks. Folkerts (21 points, 11 rebounds), who notched his seventh double-double in nine games, also swatted three shots.

“In the second half we took it up a notch,” Limback said. “Chandler was just a man tonight.”

Then there was Micah Kohlwey diving on the floor with no regard for his own livelihood. Kohlwey got the large CIT crowd roaring with a sequence of hustle plays in the second half. On the other end, Pearson sniped from the outside and the locomotive kept churning.

“They’re a really tough team,” Pearson said. “Coach told us to go hard to the glass. In the first half they kind of caught us off guard. We wanted to come back and make a hard push in the second half. A big part of it was when Micah came in with four fouls and sparked the team with a couple steals and a couple hustle plays. We really just feed off of each other.”

Pearson concluded the game with 18 points as one of four Bulldogs to reach double figures. The others were Thomas (14 points, four assists) and Eli Ziegler (10 points). Limback commended sophomore guard Rudy Knight for his work off the bench. Knight recorded eight points and three assists (one turnover) in 14 minutes.

Alec Turner, who hit the game-winning shot to beat the Bulldogs in last year’s CIT championship, produced 16 points while going 4-for-8 from 3-point range. Connor Phee emerged from the bench and put up 14 points and eight rebounds.

CUAA led only briefly when it went up 3-2 in the opening two minutes of action. CUNE pushed its first-half lead to as large as 12 points and then led 36-28 at the break. The Bulldogs held an advantage the entire second half.

The Bulldogs resume action from CIT at 7:15 p.m. in Saturday’s title tilt. Concordia will try to add to its CIT record 25 tournament championships when it hits the hardwood at Gieseman Gymnasium on the Concordia University Chicago campus.

Bulldogs survive buzzer beater in CIT heart stopper

RIVER FOREST, Ill. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team put on a clinic for much of Saturday’s Concordia Invitational Tournament championship game in River Forest, Ill. But nothing has come easy for the Bulldogs. They could finally celebrate when DeShawn Robinson’s three at the buzzer rattled in and out. The Bulldogs won, 86-85, on Saturday, giving them their 26th all-time CIT championship.

Third-year head coach Ben Limback won his second CIT title as Bulldog leader. He also won two as head coach at Concordia University Ann Arbor. CUNE has a four-game win streak and is 15-9 overall.

“I feel like that’s a typical CIT championship,” Limback said. “You hate to see anybody lose that game. I thought Concordia Wisconsin played unbelievable. Their kids played extremely hard. Made a lot of great shots that kept us on our heels in the second half.

“Kid takes that shot at the buzzer and you’re watching it in slow motion. Last year it went in. This year it didn’t.”

The Bulldogs shot a sweltering 56.6 percent (30-for-53) from the field and led by as many as 12 points early in the second half. Concordia again rode Chandler Folkerts, CIT MVP, and his near unstoppable inside presence. There were stretches when the high-low game had CUW completely perplexed. Eli Ziegler sniped treys on three-straight possessions in the first half and Robby Thomas (19 points, five rebounds, three blocks), also all-tournament, put together another stellar game.

Somehow the Falcons (11-9) nearly overcame CUNE’s sharpshooting. CUW rallied to take an 82-78 lead near the four-minute mark. Shortly after, Micah Kohlwey got loose with a steal and layup that brought things even at 82-82. Jamie Pearson drove for two and an 85-82 advantage to cap a crucial 7-0 run and the Bulldogs survived despite Folkerts fouling out with 2:02 showing on the game clock.

Folkerts piled up 24 points and eight rebounds a day after recording 21 points and 11 boards in the victory over Concordia Ann Arbor. The Chanimal has been on a rampage, but the wins matter most to the Milford native.

“Winning is way more fun,” Folkerts said. “We’re gelling better. We’re playing together better. It’s been really fun. It’s turning into wins.”

The Falcons hung tough amidst the frenzied atmosphere thanks to a plus-nine (19-10) turnover advantage. CUW also drilled 11 treys. It got 20 points from Keith Kahlfeldt and 17 from James Mitchell.

It was simply time for the ball to bounce CUNE’s way. The Bulldogs have fallen victim to buzzer-beating, game-winning shots twice this season and last year were heartbroken after a CIT title game loss to Ann Arbor. For a brief moment, it appeared that Robinson’s shot would go down. Said Folkerts, “I was just praying it wouldn’t go in.”

CUNE blocked another eight shots on Saturday. Folkerts rejected four attempts and Thomas, the program’s career record holder, swatted three shots. The Bulldogs again excelled at the foul line, making 17-of-21 (.810) shots.

Folkerts was one of four players to reach double figures for CUNE. He was joined by Thomas (19), Ziegler (17) and Pearson (14). Pearson and Ziegler both dished out five assists.

The Bulldogs return to GPAC action on Wednesday when they head to Lincoln to take on rival Nebraska Wesleyan (14-6, 9-5 GPAC). Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. inside Snyder Arena. CUNE will attempt to avenge its buzzer-beater loss to the Prairie Wolves back on Dec. 2.

Limback hopes his crew can build upon its CIT title.

“This environment certainly will make you tougher,” Limback said. “The goal is to emotionally come down – enjoy tonight – and then tomorrow regroup and get rest. We have a big conference run ahead of us. We’ve got to keep it going.”

CIT All-Tournament Team
MVP – Chandler Folkerts, CUNE
Robby Thomas, CUNE
DeAires Blackwell, CUC
Joe Remstad, CUAA
Keith Kahlfeldt, CUW

Concordia succumbs to Wesleyan firepower

LINCOLN, Neb. – After a tepid first half, Nebraska Wesleyan exploded out of the halftime break and withstood yet another huge effort from The Chanimal. The Prairie Wolves’ 57.6 percent second half shooting and 16 treys sunk the Concordia University men’s basketball team, 96-83, on Wednesday night inside Snyder Arena in Lincoln, Neb.

The loss snapped a four-game win streak for third-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad. Still in a battle for a top-eight spot required to reach the GPAC tournament, the Bulldogs slipped to 15-10 overall and 7-9 in conference play.

“In the first half I thought we did a good job of taking care of the ball and getting good shots. We played well defensively,” Limback said. “Second half they really hurt us with penetration and we helped off some guys off the bench that hit some big shots. We didn’t guard the way we needed to.”

The Bulldogs held high-powered Nebraska Wesleyan (15-6, 10-5 GPAC) to 30.8 percent (12-for-39) shooting in the first half and led 39-35 after 20 minutes of play. Concordia trailed 22-13 early on, then went on an 18-3 splurge by following the lead of beastly Chandler Folkerts inside. Folkerts had seven points during the run and finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks, marking his GPAC-high 12th double-double on the campaign.

However, it did not take long for the Praire Wolves to regain the advantage in the second half. Providing the star power on the other side, sharpshooting guard Trey Bardsley went for a game high 29 points while dishing out six assists. Robby Thomas gave Concordia its last lead of the game, 47-46, with a layup at the 17-minute mark, but Bardsley followed with a score of his own and Wesleyan led the rest of the way.

Perimeter defensive issues again surfaced for the Bulldogs, who allowed the Prairie Wolves to drain 8-of-15 second half 3-point attempts. Three of which came from Max Cook, who entered the contest averaging 4.9 points per game. Travis Giesselmann booked 18 points (6-for-20 shooting), eight assists and seven boards.

All five starters played more than 30 minutes with each reaching double figures as part of another solid outing offensively for Concordia. Thomas followed Folkerts with 15 points, Eli Ziegler dropped 14, Kohlwey had 11 and Pearson notched 10 to go along with six assists and six rebounds. The bench contributed only six points. As a team, the Bulldogs shot 49.3 percent (34-for-69) compared to 43.1 percent (31-for-72) for Nebraska Wesleyan. The Prairie Wolves made up the difference by going 18-for-21 (.857) from the foul line.

While Concordia was efficient inside, it struggled from long range (6-for-25 on 3-pointers). The Bulldogs had outrebounded 18 of their first 24 opponents this season, but were outnumbered, 42-39, in that department on Wednesday.

Nebraska Wesleyan, which began the week ranked second among NAIA Division II teams in scoring (94.4 ppg), earned won both regular-season meetings with Concordia. The Prairie Wolves are 8-2 at home this season.

The Bulldogs will be away from Walz Arena for a fourth-straight outing when they make the trek to Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday for a 4 p.m. tipoff at Morningside (10-14, 6-9 GPAC). Concordia can finish off a regular-season sweep of the Mustangs with a victory. In this season’s first matchup, the Bulldogs won, 110-99 in overtime, in Seward.

Bulldog men find victory at Morningside

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The Concordia men’s basketball team defeated Morningside College 83-79 on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs shot .531 from the field and saw two player score above 20. Both Chandler Folkerts and Jamie Pearson went 7-8 from the free throw line to help lift the team to its fifth victory in the last six contests.

The Bulldogs improve to 16-10 overall and 8-9 in the GPAC while the Mustangs fall to 10-16 overall and 6-11 in the conference.

Head coach Ben Limback said, “I thought we had a really balanced attack offensively tonight. Jamie did a great job of making driving kicks. When we were scoring and going on runs it was because our offense was making the extra pass and making the easy plays. Offensively, I thought overall we moved it well and did some good things as a team.”

Concordia compiled a .531 shooting percentage from the field and a .480 mark from behind the arc. The Bulldog defense held Morningside to a .492 percentage from the field. The Bulldogs outrebounded the Mustangs, 32-27 and also held a 6-4 advantage in steals.

Folkerts racked up 22 points and was just one rebound shy of recording a double-double. Pearson put up 21 points while Eli Ziegler contributed 17, going 5-8 from behind the arc. Ziegler also gave out four assists and no turnovers. Going a perfect 2-2 from 3-point range, Micah Kohlwey scored six and dished out four assists.

The familiar back and forth style of play followed the Bulldogs to Sioux City on Saturday. The largest lead in the first half was in favor of Concordia by seven. The lead came after a 10-2 run that lasted a minute and a half. The streak featured two treys from Ziegler. To close out the half, the ‘Dogs hit back-to-back 3-pointers and a layup courtesy of Pearson and Seth Curran.

After a seesaw second half, Kohlwey nailed a 3-pointer with 1:11 left to play. The trey gave the Bulldogs a lead of 10 which was the largest advantage held by either team during the tilt. Kohlwey’s shot was answered by a layup from Morningside’s Ryan Tegtmeier and two made free throws from Bryce Koch. Concordia was up by just six but used a sting of four free throws from Pearson to lock in the win.

 “I’m so proud of the guys. This was a big game conference wise. Going out on the road and getting the win here is exciting,” Limback said.

The Concordia men’s basketball team continues GPAC play as it hosts Midland University (13-11, 10-6) inside Walz Arena. The contest is set to begin at 8 p.m. on Feb. 10.

Folkerts and Pearson combine for 54 in victory over Midland

SEWARD, Neb. – In a crucial time heading through the final stretch of the regular season, the Concordia men’s basketball team grabbed a big win over Midland University. The Bulldogs outscored the Warriors 91-85 on Wednesday night inside Walz Arena.

The ‘Dogs improve to 17-10 overall and 9-9 in the GPAC. The 17wins so far this season are the most since the 2009-10 season when the squad went 18-12. The Warriors fall to 13-12 overall and 10-7 in the conference.

Head coach Ben Limback said, “We battled. Down the stretch we made key free throws. I like how things went offensively…Defensively, I thought our zone was great. That’s how you have to win games. We had some guys really step up tonight and I’m proud of them.”

As a team, Concordia shot a sizzling 56.7 percent (34-60) from the field. The team went 17-for-19 from the charity stripe, compiling an 89.5 percentage. Midland shot .532 (33-62) from the field and .609 from the free throw line. Concordia gave up just four turnovers and blocked five Warrior shots. The ‘Dogs were outrebounded, 33-29.

Despite a tough matchup inside with Midland’s Alex Starkel, Chandler Folkerts dumped in 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds. The junior led all players in both categories. Jamie Pearson scored 22 points and dished out four assists. Robby Thomas continues to grow in the blocks column, registering three in tonight’s contest. The senior also scored 13 points and had five boards.

“That was a fun battle to watch between him (Folkerts) and Starkel,” Limback said. “Chandler finishes and makes those shots that a lot of guys can’t and he finishes at different angles. His ability to shoot free throws is something else he does well.”

The Bulldogs led throughout the majority of the first half but never by more than seven. With 4:19 left until the halftime break, Midland took the lead and kept it the rest of the half. The Warriors scored off one of the few Bulldogs turnovers going into the break to take a three point lead.

Soon into the second stanza, Concordia regained its lead. Pearson scored in the paint to give the team a one point advantage. The score got knotted up multiple times during the half. Not until the final minutes were the Bulldogs ahead by a somewhat comfortable margin. After Micah Kohlwey pick pocketed a Warrior, Pearson scored a 3-pointer to put the team up by seven. Midland threatened Concordia’s lead after layups from Trevor Bryant and Clayton Shepard but the Bulldogs sank free throws to seal the win.

Folkerts said, “The guys found me throughout the game. It felt constant. They set a lot of screens inside for me and it kept opening up…They (Midland) kept hitting us inside with everything they had. We had a lot of help from the bench when Robby got in foul trouble. We just kept fighting to keep the ball out of there and not letting them even catch it. When they did, we did the right things going down the stretch.”

The Concordia men’s basketball team will play its final regular season home contest this Saturday. The Bulldogs are set to face Northwestern College (14-12, 8-9 GPAC) with tipoff slated for 4 p.m. The seniors will be recognized five minutes prior to the start time.

Folkerts rewarded with second-straight academic all-district honor

CoSIDA academic all-district teams

SEWARD, Neb. – One of the more dominant post players in all of the NAIA, junior Chandler Folkerts also carries a 4.0 GPA in the classroom. On Thursday the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced Folkerts as a selection on the 2015-16 Academic All-District Men’s Basketball Team (District 3). The native of Milford, Neb., received both all-district and academic All-America recognition as a sophomore in 2014-15.

The CoSIDA Academic All-District® Men’s Basketball Teams have been released to recognize the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. For more information about the Academic All-District™ and Academic All-America® Teams program, please visit http://cosida.com.

A first team all-conference pick last season, Folkerts has gotten on a roll in 2015-16. He is currently averaging 20.1 points and 8.4 rebounds per game while shooting 67.5 percent from the floor (second best among all NAIA Division II players). Folkerts continues to rise on Concordia’s all-time program lists. He ranks 12th in scoring (1,351 points) and 11th in rebounding (591). Two weeks ago he dominated the Concordia Invitational Tournament and was named CIT MVP. Folkerts leads all GPAC players with 11 double-doubles. He is majoring in mathematics and physics.

Folkerts joins a long list of Concordia athletes to receive all-district accolades over the past two season. The 2014-15 academic year saw a school record 11 Bulldogs collect such recognition. This year’s honorees include Hallick Lehmann (football), Adam Meirose (football), Becky Mueller (women’s basketball) and Folkerts.

District 3 of the College Division covers institutions in the states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. First-team Academic All-District™ honorees advance to the CoSIDA Academic All-America® Team ballot, where first-, second- and third-team All-America honorees will be selected later this month.

2015-16 academic all-district honorees
(*Academic All-American)
Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
*Hallick Lehmann, Football
Adam Meirose, Football
Becky Mueller, Basketball 

2014-15 academic all-district honorees
(*Academic All-American)
Amy Ahlers, Golf
*Brendan Buchanan, Soccer
Stephanie Coley, Track & Field
*Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
Jaydee Jurgensen, Baseball
Adam Meirose, Football
Bailey Morris, Basketball
*Rachel Mussell, Soccer
Shawn Rodehorst, Golf
Ben Sievert, Cross Country/Track & Field
Melissa Stine, Soccer

Bulldogs torch the nets with 17 treys in senior day domination

SEWARD, Neb. – Ghost chili pepper hot. That’s how fiery inferno-like the Concordia University men’s basketball team became during Saturday afternoon’s blowout of the visiting Red Raiders. The Bulldogs shot 61.2 percent from the field on the way to a 110-89 win that allowed for a rare instance in which the final few minutes were merely a scrimmage.

Third-year head coach Ben Limback’s Bulldogs are ablaze on the offensive end having averaged 89.3 points over the past eight games. Concordia is 7-1 during that stretch and has improved to 18-10 overall and 10-9 in GPAC play (fifth place).

“We had a lot of good contributions from a lot of guys,” Limback said. “Obviously we made a lot of shots and were hot from three tonight, which is great. I feel like everybody was just feeding off of each other. It was senior day so I know there were a lot of guys that wanted to make sure the seniors went out with a good win.”

The Bulldogs reached the century mark with just under five minutes remaining when senior Jamie Pearson dropped home one of his four treys on the day. The native of Ypsilanti, Mich., has gotten his groove back for a potent Bulldog bunch that abused Northwestern with absurd 58.6 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Senior Robby Thomas made all four of his attempts from long range and sniper Eli Ziegler canned 3-of-4 shots from deep.

Pearson went for 26 points, five rebounds and five assists. In his final regular-season game at Walz, Thomas posted 16 points and swatted four shots, moving him past 200 career blocks. Meanwhile, Chandler Folkerts, better known as The Chanimal, quietly recorded his 12th double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Off the bench, Rudy Knight came through with 12 points.

The Red Raiders (14-13, 8-10 GPAC) had no answers for Concordia’s weaponry.

“It feels great, especially having a game where we were in control most of the game,” Thomas said. “We were just relaxed and having fun. It’s a good way to end it (at Walz).”

Trailing 27-21 midway through the first half, the Bulldogs got on a roll that resulted in a 61-44 halftime advantage. Concordia made 12-of-17 shots and poured in 40 points over the final 10 minutes of the opening half during a stretch that had the Red Raiders baffled. Pearson styled in transition, Thomas and Ziegler popped from the outside and Folkerts was a bear in the paint. The Bulldogs had it all going on.

To beat Concordia, you’ll have to outgun it.

“Offensively we’re moving the ball better and sharing it and really coming into an identity,” Limback said. “We understand who we need to get it to and at what times. I feel like guys are really buying in as a team and trusting each other.”

Saturday marked the fifth time that Concordia has reached 100 points under Limback. All other instances occurred in overtime games, including the 110-point output in the Nov. 21 win over Morningside.

Northwestern shot 40.5 percent (30-for-74) from the floor and was led by the 19 points from Jordan Baker. The Red Raiders drained 24-of-31 (.774) free throw attempts, but failed to avoid falling to the Bulldogs for the second time this season. Concordia also won in Orange City, 87-81, on Jan. 9.

Pearson and Thomas were two of four seniors honored prior to Saturday’s game. The others were Micah Kohlwey and Alex Wakefield. Kohlwey chipped in six points.

The Bulldogs take a week off before ending the regular season at Briar Cliff (25-3, 16-2 GPAC) next Saturday. Tipoff from the Flanagan Center is slated for 4 p.m. With a win, Concordia can finish as high as a tie for fourth in the league standings.

Dawgs surging behind white-hot O

Highest scoring teams in Concordia MBB history:
1. 1993-94 – 88.6
2. 1990-91 – 86.4
3. 2015-16 – 86.0
4. 1995-96 – 85.1
5. 2000-01 – 84.0

At 11-9 overall and having lost five of their previous six games, the Bulldogs were not who they wanted to be. The close losses had mounted, including two in a row at home against upper division GPAC opponents. Head coach Ben Limback’s squad had proven it could hang with anyone in the league, but it hadn’t figured out how to conquer GPAC slugfests on a consistent basis.

Fast forward a month later and the defensive performance has improved, helping feed into an offensive attack that is producing at near historic levels for the program. Last week the Bulldogs drained 17 treys and shot 61.2 percent from the field to steamroll Northwestern, 110-89.

Limback’s crew has found its groove, winning seven of its last eight games. Chandler Folkerts has been a consistent monster in the paint and point guard Jamie Pearson has rediscovered his scoring touch. It adds up to one of the more explosive teams in school history and in the nation. Pearson has an explanation for the team’s recent hot streak.

Says the native of Ypsilanti, Mich., “Our ball movement has been a lot better. Some of the stats may not show it, but our defense has been a lot better too. We’re getting more stops and creating offense off of our defense. I’ve been able to get out in transition more and Chandler’s been consistent. We’ve always had that inside factor. It’s about the other four guys on the court getting involved along with the big man. We all have to be involved in the offense.”

The Bulldogs are now the fourth most efficient team in NAIA Division II in terms of field goal percentage (.507) and have averaged 89.3 points during their run of success over the last eight outings. Limback possesses four significant weapons at his disposal in Folkerts (20.1 ppg), Pearson (18.5), Robby Thomas (13.7) and Eli Ziegler (10.4)

When all four get touches, good things happen.

“There’s a good feeling amongst the team,” Limback said in Thursday’s Bulldog Coaches Show interview. “Any time you’re on a winning streak you have a little more pep in your step, a little more swagger. It definitely helps to win. I know the guys are still hungry to continue to improve and understand the challenges that lie before us.”

A transfer from NCAA Division II Wayne State College, Pearson admits that he was slow to adapt to the way teams began guarding him after he popped with four games of more than 30 points over a nine-game span early in the season. He then went 13 games without even reaching the 20-point threshold.

The Bulldogs could not be the offensive juggernaut they’ve become without Pearson’s dynamic scoring abilities. He’s one point away from reaching 500 tallies for the season. Folkerts has 563 points. The last time the program had two players eclipse 500 points in the same season was back in 2005-06 (Jon Ziegler and Scott Beck). But that team averaged almost 20 points per game fewer than the high-powered 2015-16 edition of Concordia men’s basketball.

“There’s a good rhythm right now with our team,” Limback said. “Chandler’s been a consistent force inside and now Jamie’s getting into a rhythm offensively. Having a perimeter attack between him and Eli and a lot of guys who shot well Saturday (versus Northwestern) is important. That’s a great thing to have as we head into the stretch run.”

Pearson came to Concordia with an eye on ending the program’s national tournament drought. In order to do that, the Bulldogs will likely have to win three-straight road games in the GPAC tournament to secure a berth. In their moments of brilliance, Pearson and company have shown enough to make that feat seem possible.

“We feel like if we’re playing and clicking like we have been lately we can beat any team in the conference,” Pearson said. “We had a few tough losses in conference. We were going through some things and kind of went into a slump. Now we’re away from that. We feel like we’re the best team. We’ve got to show that.”

Concordia ends regular season with loss at No. 6 Briar Cliff

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The Concordia University men’s basketball team simply made too many mistakes to have a realistic chance of pulling an upset at sixth-ranked Briar Cliff, the GPAC regular-season champion. The host Chargers capitalized and poured in 13 treys on the way to a 98-84 win that capped the regular season for both teams.

Third-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad turned it over 27 times and had no answer for sharpshooter Clay Harreld, who knocked down nine triples for Briar Cliff. The Bulldogs will enter the postseason with an overall record of 18-11 and conference mark of 10-10.

“We knew coming in that we would have to take care of the basketball and play defense,” Limback said. “We got off to a bad start, but I liked the way we fought back. We did some good things midway through the first half. You just can’t have 27 turnovers against the best team in our league and think you’re going to have success.”

Harreld got impossibly hot right out of the gates, making his first four attempts from long range in helping Briar Cliff build a 17-1 lead. Concordia got all the way back within two on two separate occasions in the first half. Briar Cliff went on a 10-0 run going into the break and then bullied the Bulldogs at the outset of the second half. The splurge became a 30-4 run that put Briar Cliff out in front, 72-40, less than six minutes into the second half.

Concordia actually held the nation’s highest scoring team to 43.9 percent (29-for-66). However, the Chargers (27-3, 18-2 GPAC) went 27-for-33 (.818) from the free throw line and lived off a three-man wrecking crew of Harreld (31 points), Austin Homan (18 points) and Bryan Forbes (17 points) that combined for 66 points.

Five different Bulldogs reached double figures led by the 18 points from point guard Jamie Pearson. Chandler Folkerts booked his 13th double-double of the campaign, producing 14 points and 10 rebounds. Others with 10-plus points were Justin Damme (13), Eli Ziegler (11) and Robby Thomas (10). Folkerts and company enjoyed a 46-27 advantage on the boards.

Concordia had won seven of its previous eight games entering the weekend. Its 18 wins are the most in a single season for the program since 2009-10.

The Bulldogs have drawn another tough road assignment for the quarterfinals of the GPAC tournament. As the tourney’s No. 6 seed, Concordia will travel to play at 15th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan (21-9, 13-7 GPAC). The two teams also met in the quarterfinals last season with the Tigers coming out on top, 78-64.

Season culminates at Corn Palace for second-straight year

MITCHELL, S.D. – For the second-straight season, the Concordia University men’s basketball team has watched its season end at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, S.D. Host and 18th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan bounced the sixth-seeded Bulldogs from the GPAC tournament by way of a 90-82 final in Wednesday night’s quarterfinal tilt.

The national runner up last season, the third-seeded Tigers (22-9) have had Concordia’s number, winning each of the last 10 meetings between the two sides. Third-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad ends its season with an overall record of 18-12. On the other hand, Dakota Wesleyan will meet second-seeded Nebraska Wesleyan in the conference semifinals on Saturday.

“The start of our second half allowed them to build a lead and against a team that can score – you can’t spot them like that,” Limback said. “We came out with too many turnovers and bad shots that led to points on their end. They’re a high-scoring team and we didn’t have an answer for (Jade) Miller or (Trae) Bergh in the first half.

“I’m just proud of these guys for fighting. I’m proud of the four seniors. We’re going to miss them.”

Concordia showed its mettle with a late offensive flurry that cut what had been a 17-point deficit all the way down to six. Jamie Pearson misfired on a trey in the final 30 seconds that would have slashed Dakota Wesleyan’s lead to just three. Instead, Miller tracked down the rebound and then made a pair of free throws to ice the game with 19 seconds left.

On their defensive end the Tigers effectively limited Chandler Folkerts, who enjoyed a monster junior season, to 11 points on only seven shots from the field. On the other end, DWU point guard Tate Martin dropped 10 dimes while setting up the likes of Miller (27 points, eight rebounds) and Bergh (23 points).

Miller and Bergh helped bury Concordia into a 17-point hole thanks in part to a cold second-half start. The Bulldogs opened up the half 1-for-9 from the field. But slowly the Bulldogs got back into it by mounting a 7-0 run that got them within 10 (72-62) with just under seven minutes remaining. Late triples on back-to-back possessions from Robby Thomas and Micah Kohlwey made it a six-point deficit in the closing minute – just too little, too late.

Pearson (7-for-23 shooting) topped the Bulldogs with 15 points and seven assists. Kohlwey and Max Wegener put up a dozen apiece. In his final collegiate game, Thomas posted a line of nine points, six rebounds and four assists.

Thomas ended his career ranked among the top 20 on the program’s all-time lists in four key categories: points (19th; 1,170), rebounds (eighth; 645), blocks (first; 204) and assists (13th, 226). Thomas is one of three senior starters who are set to graduate. The others are Kohlwey and Pearson.

The 2015-16 season marked another step up following records of 16-15 in 2014-15 and 8-21 in 2013-14. This year’s Bulldogs were the third-highest scoring team in program history, finishing the season with a scoring average of 85.8. Folkerts will be the centerpiece for the 2016-17 squad. He completed his junior year with averages of 19.6 points and 8.5 rebounds to go with a 66.6 shooting percentage.

“We have a lot of juniors and sophomores that I feel like have done some growing up,” Limback said. “That’s what we have to build on for next season. The expectations for this team are high. We have to do the little things in the offseason to prepare for those expectations. We’ll miss the seniors no doubt, but I know there is a group of guys who are hungry to improve and see what good things are in store for next year.”

Folkerts named to CoSIDA Academic All-America first team

CoSIDA release

SEWARD, Neb. – A star in the classroom and on the court, junior Chandler Folkerts has been named to the 2015-16 Academic All-America® College Division Men’s Basketball First Team, as announced by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) on Monday. The native of Milford, Neb., rises to the first team after having garnered second team Academic All-America recognition last season as a sophomore.

The CoSIDA Academic All-America® Men’s Basketball Teams have been released to recognize the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. For more information about the Academic All-District™ and Academic All-America® Teams program, please visit http://cosida.com.

A first team all-conference honoree in 2014-15, Folkerts elevated his game to another level in 2015-16. He completed the season with averages of 19.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while shooting 66.6 percent from the field (second best among NAIA Division II players). Folkerts topped all GPAC players with 13 double-doubles. The Chanimal piled up a career high 34 points in the win at Northwestern on Jan. 9. On Concordia’s all-time lists, Folkerts currently ranks 10th in scoring (1,397) and ninth in rebounds (618).

Folkerts is a mathematics and physics major who carries a spotless 4.0 GPA. He was one of three GPAC players chosen to either the first or second team. The others were Dakota Wesleyan’s Trae Bergh (first team) and Nebraska Wesleyan’s Trey Bardsley (second team).

Folkerts is part of a long list of Concordia athletes to receive all-district accolades over the past two seasons. The 2014-15 academic year saw a school record 11 Bulldogs collect such recognition. This year’s all-district honorees include Hallick Lehmann (football), Adam Meirose (football), Becky Mueller (women’s basketball) and Folkerts. Lehman also earned Academic All-America laurels.

2015-16 academic all-district honorees
(*Academic All-American)
*Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
*Hallick Lehmann, Football
Adam Meirose, Football
Becky Mueller, Basketball

2014-15 academic all-district honorees
(*Academic All-American)
Amy Ahlers, Golf
*Brendan Buchanan, Soccer
Stephanie Coley, Track & Field
*Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
Jaydee Jurgensen, Baseball
Adam Meirose, Football
Bailey Morris, Basketball
*Rachel Mussell, Soccer
Shawn Rodehorst, Golf
Ben Sievert, Cross Country/Track & Field
Melissa Stine, Soccer

Folkerts, Pearson top list of Bulldog all-conference honorees

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – One of the most dominant post players in the nation, junior Chandler Folkerts has raked in first team all-conference honors for the second-straight season, as announced by the GPAC on Wednesday. Senior Jamie Pearson garnered second team accolades following his first and only season as a Bulldog. Two other starters, Robby Thomas and Eli Ziegler, were tabbed with honorable mention.

Folkerts, who hails from Milford, Neb., topped the GPAC in both field goal percentage (.666) and double-doubles (13). Among league players, he also ranked third in rebounds per game (8.5), third in blocks per game (1.43) and fifth in scoring (19.6). Earlier this season he received CoSIDA Academic All-America recognition for the second-straight season. The Chanimal piled up a career high 34 points in the win at Northwestern on Jan. 9. On Concordia’s all-time lists, Folkerts currently ranks 10th in scoring (1,397) and ninth in rebounds (618). He has earned an all-conference award in all three seasons.

Pearson made a major impact after transferring in from Wayne State College this past fall. The native of Ypsilanti, Mich., averaged 18.3 points, 3.9 assists and 1.17 steals per game while shooting 48.6 percent from the floor, 83.8 percent from the free throw line and 36.6 percent from 3-point range. In just his second game as a Bulldog, Pearson exploded for 37 points in an overtime win over then No. 8 Bellevue University. He piled up 532 total points.

Like Folkerts, Thomas makes his third-straight all-conference appearance. The native of Shawnee, Kan., collected second team honors last year as a junior. This season he averaged 13.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.27 blocks per game while shooting 51.4 percent from the floor. He broke the program’s career blocked shots record at the Concordia Invitational Tournament on Jan. 29. Thomas ended his career ranked among the top 20 on the program’s all-time lists in four key categories: points (19th; 1,170), rebounds (eighth; 645), blocks (first; 204) and assists (13th, 226).

This marks the first career all-conference honor for Ziegler, a consistently potent outside shooter during his collegiate career. As a junior, the native of Littleton, Colo., averaged 10.3 points, 2.8 assists and 2.7 assists. He shot 44.0 percent from the field, 39.8 percent from beyond the arc and 86.8 percent from the free throw line. He will enter his senior season with 681 career points.

Concordia finished 2015-16 with an overall record of 18-12 in head coach Ben Limback’s third season at the helm of the program. The Bulldogs have increased their win total each season under Limback.

Men's basketball puts four on Scholar-Athlete list

NAIA release

SEWARD, Neb. – A quartet of Concordia University men’s basketball players were recognized for their work in the classroom on Monday. Of the four Bulldogs named 2015-16 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes, three are first-time honorees: juniors Justin Damme, Chandler Folkerts and Stephen Llewellyn. Senior Micah Kohlwey is now a three-time Scholar-Athlete. Meanwhile, Folkerts has garnered CoSIDA Academic All-America accolades two years running.

In order to be nominated by an institution’s head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved a junior academic status. A total of 163 Division II men’s basketball student-athletes across the nation were named 2015-16 scholar-athletes by the NAIA.

Concordia University ranks as the NAIA’s all-time leader in number of Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes with 1,267 and counting (39 for the fall of 2015). The 2014-15 season culminated with GPAC-leading totals of 94 Bulldog scholar-athletes and 17 NAIA Scholar-Teams. During the 2013-14 academic year, Concordia garnered 101 Scholar-Athlete honorees (most in the NAIA) and 17 NAIA Scholar-Teams (tied for fourth nationally).

Concordia University, Nebraska, founded in 1894, is a fully accredited, coeducational university located in Seward, Nebraska, that currently serves more than 2,600 students. Concordia offers more than 70 undergraduate, graduate and professional programs in an excellent academic and Christ-centered community that equips men and women for lives of learning, service and leadership in the church and world. For more information, visit cune.edu.

2015-16 Concordia men’s basketball scholar-athletes
Justin Damme | Jr. | Cook, Neb. | Geography
Chandler Folkerts | Jr. | Milford, Neb. | Mathematics / Physics
Micah Kohlwey | Sr. | Seward, Neb. | Exercise Science
Stephen Llewellyn | Jr. | Oakley, Kan. | Business Administration

Folkerts garners honorable mention All-America honors

NAIA release

SEWARD, Neb. – Two-time first team all-conference selection Chandler Folkerts has collected another honor. On Thursday the NAIA recognized Folkerts as a 2015-16 NAIA Division II honorable mention All-American. Earlier this season the junior star was awarded by College Sports Information Directors of America as a first team Academic All-American.

The native of Milford, Neb., has steadily improved throughout his career as a Bulldog. He completed the 2015-16 season with averages of 19.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while shooting 66.6 percent from the field (second best among NAIA Division II players). Folkerts topped all GPAC players with 13 double-doubles. The Chanimal piled up a career high 34 points in the win at Northwestern on Jan. 9. On Concordia’s all-time lists, Folkerts currently ranks 10th in scoring (1,397) and ninth in rebounds (618).

The list of accolades hauled in by Folkerts continues to grow. Earlier this week he was named a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete. He’s also been named to the Omaha World-Herald NAIA All-Nebraska team and has twice been tabbed GPAC player of the week. On Jan. 6, 2015, he received the distinction of NAIA Division II national player of the week. This past January led Concordia to a CIT title and was named the tournament’s MVP.

Folkerts is the first Bulldog men’s basketball player to earn some form of All-America honor from the NAIA since Porter Birtell was named an honorable mention All-American for his work during the 2011-12 season.

Men's hoops continues upward climb

The 2015-16 season saw the continued rise of the Concordia men’s basketball program under Ben Limback, who completed his third year at the helm of the Bulldogs. A 4-0 start that included a win over then eighth-ranked Bellevue University brought buzz back to an outfit still seeking its first national tournament appearance since finishing as the national runner up in 2005.

A major reason for the program’s resurgence has been the work of two-time first team all-conference post Chandler Folkerts, one of the nation’s most efficient inside scorers. This past season Limback added Wayne State transfer Jamie Pearson to add sizzle to the backcourt. The result was an exciting brand of hoops that produced the third-highest scoring average in program history.

“We had tremendous players. We had a dominating post presence inside with Chandler and perimeter players like Jamie who had a great year,” Limback said. “His playmaking ability opened up some things and allowed us to really push in transition. Then you add the balance with Eli (Ziegler) and Robby (Thomas) on the perimeter and Micah (Kohlwey) shot a good percentage. Our league overall was a very high possession league so scoring overall was up. The buy in offensively from our team and the type of players we had was a huge deal this year.”

The season culminated with an 18-12 overall record, marking the most wins for the program since the 2009-10 campaign. The Bulldogs had hoped to jump higher than their sixth-place conference finish, which forced them to again go on the road for the GPAC quarterfinals where their season ended at Dakota Wesleyan for the second-straight year.

Concordia’s best stretch of play came late in the season when it won seven of eight games. That run was punctuated with a 110-89 shootout victory over Northwestern on senior day. The Bulldogs shot 61.2 percent from the field in the win and finished the season at 50.5 percent, good for third best among all NAIA Division II programs. The team’s offensive prowess provided fueled optimism for Concordia’s return to the national stage.

“It was a season in which we had a lot of aspirations to do big things,” Limback said. “I thought we had a group that was hungry to compete for a GPAC championship and get to the national tournament. That’s not an easy thing to do. We started off well and beat some ranked teams. In the middle of the season we lost a lot of close games, ones that maybe we should have won. Then I thought we had a nice run at the end. I was pleased in some cases, but all of us will admit that we wanted to get a little further and get to that national tournament and compete for a conference championship.”

Limback and his coaching staff, including full-time assistant Lance Korell, identified two major areas in need of improvement in order for the Bulldogs to reach their lofty goals. Concordia allowed conference opponents to shoot 39.4 percent from 3-point range and had an average turnover margin of minus-2.4 in GPAC contests. Turn those numbers around in 2016-17 and the Bulldogs will have a greater shot of extending their season into March.

Concordia will also be tasked with replacing senior starters in Kohlwey, Pearson and Thomas, who combined to average 37.6 points per game. Folkerts and Ziegler, a sharpshooter with 160 career 3-point field goals, will be back to form a potent inside-outside scoring duo. Limback will expect contributions from other returners such as Seth Curran, Justin Damme and Kyle Pierce. No doubt there are openings for the incoming class of recruits.

“We’re going to have some returning guys stepping into those shoes and getting minutes,” Limback said. “Then we have some new guys, including some freshmen and some transfers that we’re excited about and think will gel well with the team. We expect them to compete for spots as well. It should be a fun and competitive preseason. There are a lot of question marks heading into the year in terms of who’s going to be where. There’s also some stability with Chandler and Eli and Justin really came on. Then you have guys like Kyle Pierce who played some significant minutes who will definitely have a hand in it.”

Limback is also excited about having strength and conditioning coordinator Todd Berner around for an entire offseason. Expected strength and athletic gains along with another year of development for Folkerts have the potential to bump up Concordia’s win total for a fourth-straight season. Folkerts and the high-powered Bulldogs will again take aim at ending the program’s national tournament dry spell.