21-10 Overall | 10-8 GPAC | Season Stats

2016-17 Men's Basketball Schedule

Folkerts named winner of prestigious Emil S. Liston Scholarship Award

2016 NAIA National Awards Day

SEWARD, Neb. – The epitome of a student-athlete, senior Chandler Folkerts received one of the highest honors attainable for a NAIA basketball player. On Thursday the NAIA announced Folkerts as the winner of the 2016 Emil S. Liston Scholarship Award. The announcement was made in conjunction with the NAIA’s annual National Awards Day.

The Emil S. Liston award, presented by Daktronics, recognizes academic and athletic excellence by junior student-athletes in men’s and women’s basketball. Named in honor of the NAIA’s first executive secretary and a prime mover behind the men’s basketball tournament, the Emil Liston Scholarship Award has been presented annually since 1950 to one junior men’s and one junior women’s basketball student-athlete. Each student is awarded a $1,000 scholarship.

A native of Milford, Neb., Folkerts carries a cumulative 3.99 GPA while majoring in mathematics and physics. Named a 2015-16 NAIA honorable mention All-American, Folkerts has twice been chosen as an Academic All-American by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). In addition, Folkerts has garnered first team all-GPAC accolades in each of the past two seasons and has also been tabbed to the NAIA All-Nebraska team by the Omaha World-Herald three times. The NAIA Scholar-Athlete took home MVP honors at the 2016 Concordia Invitational Tournament. Folkerts has served as a YMCA youth basketball coach, a volunteer at the Lincoln City Mission Food Pantry and a leader within his church.

After averaging 19.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while shooting 66.6 percent from the floor as a junior, Folkerts continued his rise up the Concordia men’s basketball program’s all-time lists. He enters the 2016-17 with career school rankings of seventh in blocked shots (99), ninth in rebounds (618) and 10th in scoring (1,397).

From Australia to Hawaii to Seward: Johnstone's winding path

Chris Johnstone is what Concordia head men’s basketball coach Ben Limback refers to as a “God recruit.” It wasn’t long ago that Concordia knew nothing about Johnstone, and Johnstone knew nothing of Concordia.

Surely it would take an act of God for someone to go from Sydney, Australia, to Honolulu, Hawaii, to Seward, Neb. That’s exactly what happened in regards to Johnstone.

“Out of the blue he contacted me,” Limback said. “He not only fit the profile of the type of impact guard we were looking for, but we fit him as a school that offered him a chance to play and offered a Christian atmosphere, which is something he was interested in.”

Johnstone grew up in Sydney, where he was raised alongside his older brother Daniel by their mother Gina. (Chris and Daniel did not know their father). Sydney is where his love for the sport of basketball was born. It was the type of love that started at 12 years of age and grew to the point that he desired to follow that passion, no matter where it took him.

Australia is a hot bed for cricket and rugby. Those sports simply didn’t have the same appeal as basketball did for Johnstone. He played rugby league in the seventh grade, but he didn’t have time for it when his preferred sport took over his free time.

“In high school at lunch I would run to the basketball courts,” Johnstone said. “I went to a Catholic school so I had to wear a suit and tie and I would be sweating all over. I just loved playing and would always play. All my high school friends would tell me I was wasting my time and say, ‘Come and hang out with us.’ I just wanted to play basketball, even if I was just shooting hoops by myself.”

In Australia, Johnstone made the right connections. He got hooked up with a local coach who was like a father figure for him. Johnstone’s coach pushed him to be a better person both on and off the court. With the guidance of a man who had once served as an assistant coach at Chaminade University, Johnstone’s game took off.

He quickly learned that the “United States is where you go for basketball,” and set out to realize his dream. A graduate of Marist Kogarah School in Sydney, Johnstone piqued the interests of several college recruiters despite the distance from America. He landed at NCAA Division II Chaminade in Honolulu. Few Division II school’s gain the type of exposure generated by Chaminade, which hosts the nationally-televised Maui Invitational every year.

“Living in Hawaii was so cool. I loved going to the beach,” Johnstone said. “It was like living in Sydney. Back home was a lot like that with the warm weather. I liked going on hikes. The basketball program was cool, too. I made lifelong friends over there, and playing on ESPN is such an awesome experience.”

That’s right, ESPN. Johnstone may be one of the only players to grace an NAIA roster that has scored points against the Kansas Jayhawks or has played on national TV. In a contest that took place in Maui on Nov. 23, 2015, Johnstone, then a redshirt freshman, tallied six points in four minutes of action against Bill Self’s squad.

But Johnstone played in a total of only six games during the 2015-16 season and began to think he should look elsewhere. He estimates he sent emails to 15 to 20 different schools around the United States. He would have gone to West Virginia. Anywhere. He didn’t care – about location. He just wanted a school that had what he wanted in terms of athletic, academic and social dynamics. He came close to ending up at Menlo College in California, but there was just something about that school in Seward.

“When I decided to transfer (from Chaminade) I was talking to a few schools,” Johnstone said. “I felt like Concordia was the best place for me. I just had this sense. I took a visit out here. Everything fell into place. I was excited to come here.”

Still, there are questions that beg answers: Why Nebraska? Why Concordia? For starters, a friend who played at Nebraska Wesleyan told Johnstone to take a look at Concordia. Johnstone did his homework, studied the roster makeup of the Bulldogs and shot an email to Limback, who quickly took notice. Soon after, Johnstone was on campus for a visit.

Though he says “it’s completely different from Chaminade to here,” Johnstone has already settled in while immersed in his new digs. He says the campus is livelier and closer knit than what he experienced at his previous school. Plus, now he has a great opportunity to run the show for Limback’s Bulldogs. Johnstone brings more than just a kind-hearted personality and an Australian accent.

“He’s still learning and adjusting to what we’re trying to teach,” Limback said. “He’s very coachable. He wants to get better. He’s very dynamic both offensively and defensively. I’m just so excited because he’s got three more years. He’s got a chance to be a pretty good player in this league and help us do some things.”

Johnstone cited “defensive pest” first among the things he hopes to provide this Concordia men’s basketball team in 2016-17. He’s also a more than capable scorer as someone who averaged 23.9 points in Sydney’s Ultimate Basketball League.

There’s a lot to like about Johnstone, who has been highly adaptable no matter where he’s been, although he does miss the garlic sauce dipped flatbread chicken that he used to devour in in his native country. His many stops, including a year spent training in Virginia where he met Milwaukee Bucks draft pick Thon Maker, have made him a more well-rounded and mature student-athlete.

“Moving around the world to a lot of different places teaches you a lot,” Johnstone said. “I think travel is the best education. Your mind expands a lot when you travel the world and see different places and how different people interact with each other.”

Soon Concordia’s much-anticipated newcomer will be no secret. Limback thinks Johnstone will be up to the challenge. Says Limback, “He’s been everything as advertised so far in terms of what we expected. I’m excited for him and for what he’s going to do for our team.”

Men's basketball lands eighth in GPAC preseason poll

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – Possessing one of the league’s leading candidates for player of the year, the 2016-17 Concordia men’s basketball has been tabbed eighth in the GPAC preseason poll by conference coaches, as announced on Wednesday. Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad picked up a total of 32 points, placing it ahead of Doane and Mount Marty.

Last season the Bulldogs finished sixth in the conference and concluded the 2015-16 campaign with records of 18-12 overall and 10-10 inside league play. Concordia has improved its win total each season under Limback.

While three of last season’s starters have exhausted their eligibility, the Bulldogs welcome back honorable mention All-American Chandler Folkerts, one of the nation’s most dominant frontcourt performers. As a junior he averaged 19.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks and shot 66.6 percent from the floor. The other returning starter is senior guard Eli Ziegler, a sharpshooter with a career 3-point field goal percentage of 42.3. Said Folkerts, “We went to finish top three or four in the conference. That’s the big goal for me.”

The 2016-17 season officially tips off for the Bulldogs in Denver, Colo., on Oct. 28 when it takes on Dickinson State University (N.D.) as part of a two-game trip in Colorado.

2016-17 GPAC Preseason Poll
(First-place votes in parentheses)

1. Briar Cliff – 81 (9)
2. Midland – 72 (1)
3. Dakota Wesleyan – 57
4. Dordt – 53
5. Morningside – 48
6. Northwestern – 44
7. Hastings – 37
8. Concordia – 32
9. Doane – 17
10. Mount Marty – 9

Season preview: 2016-17 Concordia men's basketball

At a glance
2015-16 Record:
 18-12 overall, 10-10 GPAC (6th)
Head Coach: Ben Limback (at Concordia: 42-48, three years; career: 157-206, 12 years)
Returning Starters: Chandler Folkerts (Sr.); Eli Ziegler (Sr.)
Other Key Returners: Seth Curran (Sr.); Justin Damme (Sr.); Kyle Pierce (Jr.)
Key Newcomers: Connor Cook; Jake Hornick; Chris Johnstone; Clay Reimers; Tanner Shuck; Brevin Sloup
Key Losses: Rudy Knight; Micah Kohlwey; Jamie Pearson; Robby Thomas; Max Wegener
2015-16 GPAC All-Conference: Chandler Folkerts (first team); Jamie Pearson (second team); Robby Thomas (honorable mention); Eli Ziegler (honorable mention)

Season Outlook
Any conversation about the 2016-17 Concordia men’s basketball team starts with senior Chandler Folkerts. The 6-foot-8 mega star had a better season as a junior than his status as an honorable mention All-American would indicate. The Milford native averaged 19.6 points and 8.5 rebounds while shooting an otherworldly 66.6 percent from the floor.

By the time he’s finished, Folkerts’ name figures to be near the very top of the program’s all-time scoring, rebounding and blocked shots lists. Head coach Ben Limback, who enters his fourth season at the helm of the program, believes Folkerts can be even better as a senior.

“He’s a one-in-a-million type of guy,” Limback said. “Every year he’s done something to add to his game, whether it’s offensively or defensively. I can’t wait for an encore. You think after the sophomore year he had, how is he going to top that? Then as a junior he did that. Certainly he’s capable of doing even more things. What I’ve noticed in Chandler, especially this year, is a much different leader. There’s an urgency to what he’s doing.”

Folkerts will be the centerpiece for a program that says goodbye to three starters: Micah Kohlwey, second team all-conference honoree Jamie Pearson and the program’s all-time leading shot blocker in Robby Thomas. Another senior, Eli Ziegler, joins Folkerts as the other returning starter. Ziegler is a sharpshooting guard who has drained 160 triples during his career as a Bulldog. Ziegler will have a shot to reach 1,000 career points this season.

Soft spoken by nature, Folkerts and Ziegler have worked this offseason to improve as leaders for a team with plenty of new faces.

“We just want to help the coaches,” Folkerts said. “They have so much to worry about. We can teach the young guys little things and help them out as much as we can to speed up the learning process. With any of the guys, we can help keep them playing hard and keep them focused. We want to be an extension of the coaches and expedite the learning process.”

While the departures are significant, the influx of talent gives Concordia hope for continuing its upward trajectory. The Bulldogs have bumped up their win total each season under Limback, who believes he’s found a worthy replacement at the point for Pearson. Concordia won’t have to rely upon a rookie at the position thanks to the arrival of Chris Johnstone, who spent two years at NCAA Division II Chaminade University in Hawaii.

Limback calls Johnstone “dynamic” at both ends of the floor. The 6-foot-1 sophomore from Sydney, Australia, has impressed his teammates not only on the court, but also with the way he’s adjusted to another new culture.

“He’s ultra-quick,” Folkerts said. “That’s a huge thing. He’s really fast, really physical. He can do a whole lot of things. That just makes it fun, getting a transfer in. He knows how to play. He’s not a freshman that has to come in and learn a lot about college basketball. He’s ready to play.”

Johnstone will have the opportunity to run the show for what was one of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation last season. While playing in a high-flying GPAC, the Bulldogs posted national rankings of third in field goal percentage (.505), eighth in free throw percentage (.750) and 17th in points per game (85.8).

Two other seniors make up this year’s roster: 6-foot-1 guard Seth Curran and 6-foot-10 post man Justin Damme. Of the two, Curran saw the most action last season, playing in 26 of 30 games with an average of 13.6 minutes per contest. Meanwhile, Damme provides another low post scoring option. He shot 64.2 percent from the floor as a junior. The next most experienced player on the roster is 6-foot-5 junior Kyle Pierce, who contributed 3.4 points and 2.1 rebounds per game as a role player last season.

Considering how heavily Concordia relied upon its starters last season (all five averaged more than 25 minutes per game), it’s not difficult to conclude that playing time is up for grabs. The freshman class will have a say in how far this team can go. The long and lean Clay Reimers, a 6-foot-7 product of Lincoln East High School, has positioned himself to take advantage of aforementioned opportunities.

“We have quite a few freshmen this year that I think are in the mix,” Limback said. “It’s still a little early to tell who will ultimately surface in the rotation, but we have guys that have impressed me so far and done some neat things in practice. Clay Reimers out of Lincoln is a 6-7, long forward. He can really change the game at both ends. He can score from the perimeter. He can post up. Defensively, he’s got a tremendous ability to alter shots and also guard one through five.”

Limback also made mention of other freshmen such as Jake Hornick (Loveland, Colo.), Tanner Shuck (Grand Island, Neb.) and Brevin Sloup (Seward, Neb.) as well as Cordell Gillingham (Greeley, Colo.) and Riley Tegtmeier (Davenport, Neb.). Hornick, who red-shirted last season, is a 6-foot-1 guard that has impressed Limback with his continuous motor and activity on the glass. Schuck, who red-shirted last season, is a 6-foot-4 wing capable of playing the three or the four.

Folkerts and company will need the help of that freshman group in order to end a national tournament drought of more than 10 years for the program. Stalwarts like Pearson and Thomas may have exhausted their eligibility, but there’s a wealth of talent in the program.

What was it that prevented the 2015-16 team from reaching the heights that this team aspires to ascend to? For starters, opposing teams shot 37.5 percent from beyond the 3-point line. That won’t cut it this time around. Limback has been emphasizing more consistency on the defensive end. That will be a key in a high-scoring league. Says Folkerts, “We want to finish top three or four in the conference. That’s the big goal for me.”

There were certainly opportunities that slipped through Concordia’s fingers last season. Nearly every conference game came down to the wire. Perhaps more of those tight contests will go the way of the Bulldogs this year.

There’s a genuine belief within the program that essential ingredients are in place to make another step forward.

“Briar Cliff returns quite a few of their pieces from the championship team,” Limback said. “They’re going to be tough again. After that I think there are a number of teams, I’d like to say including us, that can fight to win the league. There’s really no down time in the GPAC. I think it’s going to be a great race to the end. We hope to be in the mix.”

SEASON OPENER: A trip to Denver, Colo., will christen the 2016-17 season. In its first of two games in Denver, the Bulldogs will take on Dickinson State University (N.D.). Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. CT.

Curran spurs victorious second-half rally

DENVER, Colo. – A corner trey canned by Eli Ziegler with under two minutes left proved to be the death blow that helped propel the Concordia University men’s basketball team to a come-from-behind season-opening win on Friday afternoon. The Bulldogs erased an 11-point second half deficit and defeated Dickinson State University (N.D.), 73-66, in contest that took place in Denver on the Johnson & Wales University campus.

Concordia has now won three-straight season openers under the direction of fourth-year head coach Ben Limback.

“It was not our best performance on the offensive end. You could tell it looked like our first game at times,” Limback said. “We struggled to score inside against their length, but we stuck with it. We talked at the end of the game about how proud we were of their fight. We stayed together as a team despite not having our best game offensively. To come away with a win is great, but our guys know we can play better.”

The Bulldogs showed resilience in weathering a 21-3 Blue Hawk splurge that staked Dickinson State to a 53-42 advantage. A host of players emerged to help Concordia muster a game-defining run of its own. Elevated to a starting role as a senior, guard Seth Curran poured in a career high 15 points. During the Bulldogs’ 26-8 spurt, Curran not only scored eight points, he assisted on a triple by Tanner Shuck and Ziegler’s dagger.

Playing in his first career collegiate game, freshman Brevin Sloup got into the act with a trey that got Concordia within one (56-55) with 7:07 left in the game. The Bulldogs finally edged in front, 62-61, with a Chandler Folkerts free throw at the 3:09 mark. Ziegler then surfaced with the long ball after misfiring on his first five 3-point attempts.

It was an all-around solid performance by Curran, who joined Chris Johnstone and Ziegler in the starting backcourt. In his first career start, Curran made 3-of-5 shots from the field, 7-of-8 free throws and added four rebounds and a steal to his stat line. He topped Concordia’s group of four double-figure scorers, which included Ziegler (13), Folkerts (11) and Johnstone (10). Johnstone was one of five players to make their Bulldog debuts on Friday. Another newbie is Shuck, who drained 2-of-3 shots from beyond the arc.

“He looked like a senior,” Limback said of Curran. “It was awesome to see. He was very consistent, very composed. Overall I thought he played great at both ends. In games like that where Chandler and other guys aren’t clicking, you need someone like Seth to step up and do those things. I thought he looked like a guy that had been there before. We needed that.”

On the defensive end, Concordia shored up an area that plagued it last season. Dickinson State went only 3-for-19 (.158) from 3-point range. The Blue Hawks were paced by the 12 points and seven assists of Jake Buck. Dickinson State actually shot a higher percentage from the field (45.5 to 43.1) than Concordia, but the Bulldogs made up for it at the foul line (22-for-29).

Though Kyle Pierce went 1-for-7 from the floor, he pulled down a game high nine rebounds in a contest that was nearly dead even on the glass. Turnovers were also essentially a wash. The Blue Hawks had 15. The Bulldogs had 14.

The Bulldogs will remain in Denver for Saturday’s contest against host Johnson & Wales University. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MT / 8 p.m. CT. The Wildcats are coming off of a 15-16 season. These two sides met in Concordia’s 2015-16 season opener. It resulted in an 89-49 Bulldog win. A live webcast will be available HERE.

Johnson & Wales upsets Concordia

DENVER, Colo. – Concordia men’s basketball fell to Johnson & Wales University on Saturday evening, 82-81. The atmosphere in the Wildcats Center was tense as the two opposing teams took turns stealing the lead. A one-point advantage from a made free-throw in the last minute of the game was not enough to stop JWU from making a comeback in the last eight seconds of the game.

The whistle-happy referees called multiple fouls on both sides, slowing down the speed of the game. But, head coach Ben Limback, who is in his fourth year of coaching the Bulldogs, attributed the loss to a lack of preparation and simply being outplayed by Johnson & Wales.

“Johnson & Wales had a great momentum,” said Limback. “We just couldn’t get it going. Defensively, I thought we allowed a lot of drives down the middle. Offensively, I thought we pressed a little bit and started to come unraveled, and we didn’t stick with our game plan.”

Just before going into the locker room at halftime, Eli Ziegler buried a corner three-point shot and a tough buzzer-beating jump-shot to spur a mini 5-0 run to end the half, giving the Bulldogs a much-needed confidence boost.

Upon returning from the locker room to start the second half, the sluggish Bulldogs still needed to get their heads back into the game. That is when Chandler Folkerts stepped up to the plate and came through with a two-handed slam dunk that spurred a 7-0 run, bringing CUNE to a one-point lead above the Warriors.

There was one Bulldog standout toward the end of the game who really stepped up to the plate, Brevin Sloup. The freshman, who is a native of Seward, Neb., stole the show by coming off of the bench and knocking down a couple of big three-pointers down the stretch.

“He controlled the tempo,” said Limback of Sloup.

This loss comes as a learning experience for the season ahead as the conference games are quickly approaching. The Bulldogs return to the court on Nov. 4 as they host the Cattle Classic and take on Waldorf University (Iowa).

Previewing the men's side of the Cattle Classic

SEWARD, Neb. – The 17th annual Cattle Classic is set to tip off on Friday afternoon inside Walz Arena. The basketball classic features a total of four men’s games and four women’s games over the course of the two-day extravaganza. The event, co-sponsored by Concordia and The Cattle National Bank & Trust Co., raises money and food for the Blue Valley Community Action's Food Pantry. Pac N Save of Seward will match all canned food donations.

Fans are encouraged to bring canned goods in exchange for admission. Ten canned items will get an adult a weekend pass. Complete admission information for the Cattle Classic can be found HERE.

Friday, Nov. 4

  • Women: Doane University vs. Oklahoma Wesleyan University, 1 p.m.
  • Men: Midland University vs. Oklahoma Wesleyan University, 3 p.m.
  • Women: Concordia vs. Friends University (Kan.), 6 p.m.
  • Men: Concordia vs. Waldorf University (Iowa), 8 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 5

  • Women: Doane University vs. Friends University, 10 a.m.
  • Men: Midland University vs. Waldorf University (Iowa), 12 p.m.
  • Women: Concordia vs. Oklahoma Wesleyan University, 3 p.m.
  • Men: Concordia vs. Oklahoma Wesleyan University, 5 p.m.

The Men’s Field

Concordia University
Head coach: Ben Limback, 4th season at Concordia (spent nine seasons at Concordia-Ann Arbor)
2016-17 Record: 1-1
2015-16 Record: 18-12
Conference: Great Plains Athletic Conference
Location: Seward, Neb.
Top Player: Senior Chandler Folkerts has a chance to go down as one of the top players in the history of the program. A 2015-16 NAIA honorable mention All-America selection, the 6-foot-8 Milford native averaged 19.6 points and 8.5 rebounds last season as a junior. At Concordia’s season-opening weekend stay in Denver, Colo., Folkerts totaled 30 points and 15 rebounds while going 9-for-17 from the field over the two games. On the program’s all-time lists, Folkerts ranks seventh in blocked shots (100), eighth in points scored (1,427) and ninth in rebounds (633).
Overview: Concordia has improved its win total each season under fourth-year head coach Ben Limback, whose 2016-17 squad is breaking in three new starters to go along with Folkerts and sharpshooting senior guard Eli Ziegler. Chaminade University transfer Chris Johnstone and senior Seth Curran have joined Ziegler in the starting backcourt while 6-foot-5 junior Kyle Pierce has gotten the nod alongside Folkerts in the frontcourt. Concordia dug out of an 11-point hole in the second half on the way to a 73-66 victory over Dickinson State University (N.D.) in the season opener. The next day the Bulldogs came up just short in their efforts to rally back from deficits of 15 in the first half and 10 in the second half in the 82-81 loss to Johnson & Wales University (Colo.).

Midland University
Head coach: Oliver Drake, 2nd season at Midland (spent five seasons at Ashford University)
2016-17 Record: 0-0 (Ranked No. 21 in NAIA Division II preseason poll)
2015-16 Record: 16-14
Conference: Great Plains Athletic Conference
Location: Fremont, Neb.
Top Player: Midland’s top player, at least in terms of returners, is 6-foot-7 senior forward Alex Starkel, who earned first team all-conference accolades in 2015-16. Starkel enters the season with 1,391 points and 577 rebounds in his career with the Warriors. Last season he averaged 15.5 points and 6.7 rebounds.
Overview: Last season’s team finished only two games above .500 overall, but head coach Oliver Drake’s program has generated buzz with the transfers he’s brought to Fremont. Drake welcomes in both Diamontae McKinley and Damon Overton, both of whom played for Drake at Ashford University. McKinley averaged 15.0 points and was named an honorable mention All-American in 2014-15. Meanwhile, Overton piled up more than 1,000 points while at Ashford. Those additions coupled with the return of Starkel helped Midland earn a preseason national ranking of 21. The Warriors were picked second in the GPAC.

Oklahoma Wesleyan University
Head coach: Mark Molder, 3rd season
2016-17 Record: 1-1
2015-16 Record: 14-16
Conference: Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference
Location: Bartlesville, Okla.
Top Player: The lone Oklahoma Wesleyan representative on the KCAC’s preseason men’s basketball team was 5-foot-10 sophomore guard Breiman Alexander, who averaged 14.8 points last season as a freshman for the Eagles. So far this season he’s totaled 24 points over two games but has made only 7-of-25 (.280) shots from the floor.
Overview: A perennially strong program, Oklahoma Wesleyan has endured two-straight losing seasons since a 25-10 campaign in 2013-14. That particular team was upset by Concordia in a November matchup before catching fire and reaching the national tournament. The Eagles may be back on the upswing. They were picked by league coaches to finish fourth in the 12-team KCAC. Head coach Mark Molder’s squad opened the season last weekend by splitting a pair of games. It beat Ecclesia, 90-67, before falling to College of the Ozarks (Mo.), 69-51.

Waldorf University
Head coach: Nigel Jenkins, 6th season
2016-17 Record: 0-1
2015-16 Record: 16-14
Conference: North Star Athletic Association
Location: Forest City, Iowa
Top Player: Atlanta native June Prowell is the team’s leading returner scorer. The 6-foot-2 senior point guard averaged 15.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists while filling the stat sheet last season. Prowell struggled in the team’s season-opening game, going 2-for-11 from the floor in a blowout loss to 25th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan. Prowell came to Waldorf prior to last season as a transfer from Southern Crescent Technical College (Ga.).
Overview: Under sixth-year head coach Nigel Jenkins, the Warriors were pegged sixth in the North Star Athletic Association’s preseason coaches’ poll. They placed seventh in the nine-team league a year ago. Waldorf is moving on without Erik Brewer, who racked up 1,803 points during his four years in Forest City, Iowa. Last season the Warriors enjoyed some success against GPAC teams, defeating Dakota Wesleyan, Morningside and Mount Marty. In the 2016-17 season opener in Mitchell, S.D., Waldorf fell by a 93-64 score to Dakota Wesleyan.

Folkerts fills stat sheet in Cattle Classic win

SEWARD, Neb. – The full skillset of senior Chandler Folkerts was on display in the final Cattle Classic game of the day on Friday. The All-American stuffed the stat sheet while leading a 83-76 bounce back victory over visiting Waldorf University in the home debut for the 2016-17 Concordia University men’s basketball squad.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s bunch withstood a late charge from the Warriors while running its season record to 2-1.

“I thought Chandler did some good things in the post. Obviously he had 28 points, but the passing out of the post as well,” Limback said. “We’ve just got to have consistency as a team. We had some big flashes. I thought Clay Reimers did some nice things. We just have to have the consistency.”

Already one of the most prolific scorers and rebounders in program history, Folkerts went for 28 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and even sprayed around five assists, often finding shooters like Eli Ziegler and Chris Johnstone for open looks. With Folkerts pounding away inside, the Bulldogs never trailed and built up an advantage as large as 17 points.

But the Warriors (0-2) never went away and made it tense in the final couple of minutes. Following a Concordia turnover, a trey fired by Shay Motter rimmed out with 25 seconds left. Had it gone in, Waldorf would have trailed just 81-77. Instead, Tanner Shuck came up with another critical rebound that helped put the game away. Shuck followed by knocking home a pair of free throws. The freshman from Grand Island, Neb., also got in offensive board and put back in the last minute-and-a-half in what was another clutch play.

“It’s fun when things roll on offense,” Folkerts said. “When that happens we go inside-out and we’re able to get buckets inside and kick out for three. When we’re playing well, it’s so much fun with these guys.”

A 7-0 run that began with Ziegler’s trey to beat the first half buzzer and ended with two Folkerts buckets in the second half put Concordia up by 17. Methodical spurts by the Warriors helped them crawl back within seven points on three occasions.

Ziegler piled up 17 points to compliment Folkerts. He went 4-for-8 from long range. Ziegler chipped in four rebounds as Concordia owned a 48-37 advantage on the glass. Shuck and Seth Curran added six boards apiece. Shuck made his first career start and totaled seven points on 2-for-3 shooting from the floor.

Freshman Clay Reimers helped keep Waldorf at arm’s length when he poked the ball loose and threw down a two-handed slam in transition. He was one of four freshmen Bulldogs to see action.

June Prowell helped keep the game snug by going for 26 points on 10-for-23 shooting to top the Warriors. Michael Morgan added 16 points.

The 17th annual Cattle Classic continues on Saturday when the Bulldogs host Oklahoma Wesleyan (1-2) at 5 p.m. CT. In the first men’s game of Friday’s Cattle Classic action, the Eagles were upended by No. 21 Midland, 72-66. All four of Saturday’s Cattle Classic contests can be seen on the Concordia Sports Network. For additional information on the Cattle Classic, click HERE.

Bulldogs close Cattle Classic with victory

SEWARD, Neb. – While putting together its most complete performance of the young season, the Concordia University men’s basketball team put away Breiman Alexander and visiting Oklahoma Wesleyan University in the final game of the 17th annual Cattle Classic on Saturday. Lifted by 38-for-48 free throw shooting, the Bulldogs posted a 100-89 victory inside Walz Arena.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad is now 3-1 overall after capping a 2-0 weekend at home. A little home cooking effectively allowed the Bulldogs to put behind last week’s loss in Denver.

“Oklahoma Wesleyan has some good athleticism and talent,” Limback said. “Certainly No. 1 (Alexander) had a heck of a day. I thought we guarded and gave some good effort. Our rotations were better today. Our ball screen defense was better at certain times. I was pleased with the defense even though we allowed 89 points. It was a very high possession game.”

On the offensive end, three Bulldogs racked up 18 or more points: Chris Johnstone (23), Eli Ziegler (20) and Chandler Folkerts (18). Both Folkerts and Ziegler were named to the All-Cattle Classic team. A night after going for 28 points and 11 rebounds, Folkerts came up just one rebound shy of another double-double.

A transfer from Chaminade University, Johnstone flashed many of the skills that made him an exciting addition. He was one of four starters to play at least 30 minutes. The starting five combined to make 34-of-40 shots from the foul line during a game that saw the Eagles engage in a foul fest in an effort to extend the game down the stretch.

Alexander made the Bulldogs sweat by curling in shots from the cheap seats. He took full command of the Oklahoma Wesleyan offense while filling it up with 15 of his game high 38 points coming over the final three-and-a-half minutes of action. His triple with 1:28 left got the Eagles (1-3) within eight (92-84), but he missed on his next two long distance attempts and Concordia salted the game away at the free throw line.

The Bulldogs led the game by as many as 20 points thanks to a particularly dominant stretch to open up the second half. This was a confidence builder for a team that put its focus on shoring up its play on the defensive side of the court over the past week of practice.

“This weekend was huge for us as far as confidence goes,” said Ziegler, who drained three more triples on Saturday. “We were kind of shaken after that loss (at Johnson & Wales University). This was a huge step for us and for the future. We definitely showed more confidence this weekend.”

The conference season will open up next week with a Wednesday trip to Northwestern for an 8 p.m. tipoff in Orange City, Iowa. Behind a big performance from Folkerts, the Bulldogs came away from Northwestern with an 87-81 win last season. Concordia also beat the Red Raiders at home this past year.

All-Cattle Classic Team
Breiman Alexander, Oklahoma Wesleyan
Chandler Folkerts, Concordia
Diamontae McKinley, Midland
June Prowell, Waldorf
Eli Ziegler, Concordia

Three Bulldogs score 20-plus in tight loss at Northwestern

ORANGE CITY, Iowa – In its bid to win at Northwestern for the third-straight year, the Concordia University men’s basketball team charged back from an 18-point second half deficit, but ultimately couldn’t dig all the way out. Prolific scorer Colton Kooima and the host Red Raiders narrowly held off the late Bulldog charge, 89-87, in Orange City, Iowa, on Wednesday night.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad now sits at 3-2 overall. This was the team’s first action since sweeping a pair of games at last weekend’s Cattle Classic.

“We dug ourselves a hole both halves,” Limback said. “First half we fought back. Our defense led to some transition buckets. But both halves we turned it over too many times against a good offensive team. You’re not going to win a lot of games on the road in the GPAC turning it over 19 times.

“I was proud of our guys. There was a moment in the second half where they had us down by a lot and we came out of the timeout fighting. Our guys put us in position to at least have some shots to make it interesting.”

Wednesday’s GPAC opener looked a lot like many of the offensive gunfights that occurred throughout the conference last season. Three Bulldogs recorded 20 points or more for a team that shot 60 percent (33-for-55) from the field. But even that outpouring wasn’t enough to overcome Kooima and the Red Raiders (4-1), who entered the night as one of the most efficient teams in the nation on the offensive end.

On the floor where he hit a game-winning buzzer-beating 3-pointer two seasons earlier, Eli Ziegler pumped in a trey in the waning seconds to cut Concordia’s deficit to three (87-84). He then nearly stole the inbounds before Northwestern chucked the ball down court for an easy layup that put the game to rest.

Sophomore guard Chris Johnstone put up more than 20 points for the second-straight outing. He led Concordia with 22 points on 6-for-11 shooting while adding five assists and four rebounds. Ziegler, who made 5-for-7 shots from beyond the arc, went for 21 points and four assists. Chandler Folkerts knocked home 9-of-10 attempts from the floor and recorded a double-double (20 points and 10 rebounds).

A 24-7 Concordia run late in the contest slashed a 75-57 deficit to just one (82-81) with 2:13 left. However, Northwestern never did relinquish the lead. Jordan Baker followed with two free throws and Kooima then drilled three of his game high 27 points to help stave off Concordia.

The Bulldogs hope they can build off the run they made down the stretch on Wednesday.

“I think the mindset changed,” Limback said. “We went zone and that caught them off guard a little bit, but No. 5 (Kooima) had a great game. He’s a tremendous player. He had a great offensive game tonight.”

The Bulldogs will be back at home on Saturday to host 17th-ranked York College (3-0), which advanced to the national quarterfinals last season. Tipoff from Walz Arena is set for 3 p.m. CT.

Star seniors power Concordia past No. 17 York

SEWARD, Neb. – In a matchup of high-powered offenses, 17th-ranked York College failed to keep up with the Concordia University men’s basketball team. Seniors Seth Curran, Chandler Folkerts and Eli Ziegler combined for 63 points to fuel a runaway, 91-77, victory over the visiting Panthers inside Walz Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad again has the makings of a team capable of being efficient inside and out on the offensive end. The Bulldogs shot 55.3 percent (26-for-47) from the field while disposing of York.

“We talked about not letting them get loose in transition. That was such a big key,” Limback said. “This is a great basketball team. They’re very athletic and well-coached. I really felt like our guys came out and competed and did a lot of the little things we needed to do to win.”

Folkerts continues to do more than just the little things. His massive early-season production continued on Saturday as he went 7-for-7 from the floor and 10-for-11 from the free throw line on his way to 25 points and eight rebounds. Ziegler was just as effective, going for 24 points while making 5-of-9 shots from long range. He also dished out five assists.

With Concordia filling it up offensively, the Bulldogs built a lead as large as 20 points in the second half. They exerted total control over a Panther squad that brought back star Cameron Coleman from a team that reached the national quarterfinals this past March. Coleman poured in 18 points on the day, but York never whittled its deficit to fewer than 10 points over the game’s final 20 minutes.

Limback could not have asked for a better response to Wednesday’s 89-87 loss at Northwestern in the GPAC opener.

“I think this is the first step,” Curran said. “Now we know we can knock off some of the top-rated teams. Rankings don’t mean much to us. When we play together as a team, we think we can beat anybody. We’re a really good basketball team, and we know it.”

Saturday’s game got away from York over the final five-and-a-half minutes of the opening half. Leading by two (31-29), Concordia went on a 7-0 run that started with a Folkerts bucket in the paint. The advantage ballooned to 10 when Ziegler canned a trey with 3:08 left in the half. Then Tanner Shuck surfaced with a back-breaker of a triple in the half’s closing seconds to put the Bulldogs up a dozen.

The momentum spilled over into the second half. Folkerts’ trey at the 16:53 mark made it a 17-point margin and York (3-1) never made a serious threat the rest of the way. The Panthers fell despite shooting 47.7 percent (31-for-65) and despite 21 points from Jonny Cooksey.

Still getting accustomed to his role as a starter, Curran delivered 14 points and five assists. Off the bench, Shuck chipped in five points – two coming on a dunk – and four assists.

“Our guys really competed. There was a lot of fight in the ‘Dogs today,” Limback said.

The Bulldogs will play a nationally-ranked opponent for the second-straight game when they tipoff at No. 21 Midland (5-0) on Wednesday. The action from Fremont, Neb., is slated to get started at 8 p.m. CT. The GPAC rivals split their two meetings last season with the home team winning in each instance. The Warriors took part in this year’s 17th annual Cattle Classic.

Folkerts' near perfect week leads to GPAC award

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – Senior Chandler Folkerts missed just a single shot attempt during last week’s action. On Tuesday the conference rewarded the Milford, Neb., native with GPAC Hauff Mid-America Sports Men’s Basketball Player of the Week accolades. The announcement marks the third time Folkerts has earned the honor during his collegiate career, which also includes a national player of the week award.

Folkerts has raised his game to new heights each season for head coach Ben Limback’s program. Over two games last week, The Chanimal averaged 22.5 points and 9.0 rebounds while going an otherworldly 16-for-17 (.941) from the field. In the 91-77 upset of 17th-ranked York, Folkerts totaled 25 points and eight rebounds, made all seven shots from the field and went 10-for-11 from the free throw line.

Through six games this season, Folkerts is averaging 20.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 blocks. His 69.6 field goal percentage ranks seventh best among all NAIA Division II players. For his career, Folkerts has averaged 15.8 points and shot 64.4 percent over 96 games since the start of the 2013-14 season.

A two-time first team All-GPAC selection, Folkerts continues to climb the program’s all-time lists for points, rebounds and blocked shots.

Folkerts Concordia all-time ranks
Points – 7th (1,518)
Rebounds – 8th (671)
Blocks – T-5th (106)

Rally comes up short at No. 21 Midland

FREMONT, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team still hopes it can prove it’s cut out for life on the road in the GPAC. After an impressive offensive display in last week’s upset of 17th-ranked York College, the Bulldogs were handled by host and 21st-ranked Midland, 87-77, inside the Wikert Event Center on Wednesday night.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad is still searching for its first true road victory of the 2016-17 season. Concordia fell to 4-3 overall and to 0-2 in conference play.

“They’re a great basketball team,” Limback said. “I don’t think we took anything away from them defensively until there were maybe six or seven minutes left in the second half. All of the sudden we started to believe. We really started to be more aggressive.”

The Warriors (6-0, 1-0 GPAC) are a different looking team than the one the Bulldogs saw last season. Featuring returning first team all-conference post Alex Starkel and an influx of transfers, Midland remains unbeaten. A transfer from Ashford University, sharpshooting guard Diamontae McKinley burned Concordia with 12 of his 18 points in the first half. Starkel then put up 16 in the second half as the Warriors extended their lead to 23 (60-37) with just under 16 minutes left in the game.

But Midland didn’t exactly slam the door shut. Concordia made its way back within seven (79-72) after Tanner Shuck’s trey with 1:16 left. The outside shooting of Shuck and fellow freshman Clay Reimers helped bring the Bulldogs back. However, Concordia still had too many empty possessions at a point when there was almost no margin for error.

The team’s defensive tenacity down the stretch provided the most optimism for Limback’s squad. A 7-for-11 performance from 3-point range in the second half didn’t hurt the Bulldog comeback effort either.

“We just wanted to be more aggressive defensively,” Limback said. “We were on our heels for the majority of the game. We have to get them to change their mindset so they get on their heels. I just didn’t think we were aggressive until towards the end when we started to get some stops.”

The Bulldog-Warrior matchups have produced some classic battles in the paint between reigning GPAC player of the week Chandler Folkerts and Starkel. The Midland standout post totaled a game high 24 points. Meanwhile, Folkerts put up 23 points while going 8-for-13 from the floor.

The production of Folkerts is a given. Concordia would love to be able to count on the continued progress of Reimers and Shuck, both of whom put up 11 points on Wednesday while getting extended minutes. Sophomore guard Chris Johnstone added 14 points and four rebounds. On the other hand, the Warriors made it a priority to limit Eli Ziegler’s opportunities. He hoisted only four shots and totaled four points on Wednesday.

Concordia fell despite shooting 47.5 percent (28-for-59) from the floor. That number jumped up to 56.7 percent in the second half. Midland shot 53.2 percent (33-for-62) from the field.

The Bulldogs will return to Walz Arena on Saturday for their first GPAC home game of the 2016-17 season. Mount Marty (3-4, 0-1 GPAC) will serve as the opponent for a contest set to tip off at 4 p.m. CT. The Lancers entered the new campaign having gone two-straight seasons without winning a conference game.

Bulldogs put six-game home win streak on the line Saturday

SEWARD, Neb. – Two teams seeking their first conference win of the 2016-17 season will meet inside Walz Arena on Saturday. The Concordia University men’s basketball team and visiting Mount Marty are set to tip off at 4 p.m. CT. Head coach Ben Limback’s squad is coming off an 87-77 loss at No. 21 Midland on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Lancers fell by a 113-87 score in their GPAC opener versus Morningside.

Saturday’s game will be available via the Concordia Sports Network. It will also be carried by 104.9 Max Country with Tyler Cavalli calling the action.

With star post man Chandler Folkerts scoring almost at will in the paint, Concordia has been one of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation, ranking in the top 25 in NAIA Division II in 3-point field goal percentage (.415), free throw percentage (.754) and field goal percentage (.499). Last week Folkerts was named the GPAC player of the week. He’s averaging 20.6 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 68.1 percent from the floor (12th best in the nation). Though he was held to four points at Midland, senior guard Eli Ziegler is also performing at a high level on the offensive end. He’s shooting 44.9 percent from beyond the arc.

Fourth-year head coach Andrew Baker will bring an improved squad to Walz Arena. The Lancers (3-4, 0-1 GPAC) have already topped their win total from last season. Mount Marty has been letting it fly from long range. The Lancers rank third nationally in 3-point field goals per game (12.3). Central Community College transfer OJ Thok has been given the green light. He’s 23-for-42 (.548) from distance and leads the team with an average of 17.0 points per game. Mount Marty scores a lot (86.6 ppg) and gives up a lot (89.0 ppg).

So far this season, Concordia is a perfect 3-0 at home with wins over Waldorf University (Iowa), Oklahoma Wesleyan University and No. 17 York College. Dating back to last season, the Bulldogs have won six-straight contests played inside Walz Arena.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

Concordia (4-3, 0-2 GPAC)
G – Chris Johnstone (13.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, .417 fg%)
G – Seth Curran (8.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.3 apg, .400 fg%)
G – Eli Ziegler (17.3 ppg, 2.6 apg, .449 3-pt fg%)
F – Kyle Pierce (3.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, .310 fg%)
C – Chandler Folkerts (20.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.43 bpg, .681 fg%)

Mount Marty (3-4, 0-1 GPAC)
G – Hunter Martin (4.4 ppg, 2.0 apg)
G – Zach Telles (8.0 ppg, .360 3-pt fg%)
G – OJ Thok (17.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 3.3 apg, .458 fg%)
F – Drew Cheskie (13.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg, .585 fg%)
F – Patrick Ciganovic (12.7 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 3.4 apg, .444 fg%)

Bulldogs torch nets in thumping of Mount Marty

SEWARD, Neb. – Senior Chandler Folkerts scored almost at will on the interior and the Concordia University men’s basketball team thrashed Mount Marty, 102-69, inside Walz Arena on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs blistered the nets, shooting 63.9 percent in the first half and 59.7 percent for the game. Meanwhile, the Lancers shot 36.9 percent while failing to put a stop to their lengthy GPAC losing streak.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has been especially good at home so far this season. The Bulldogs are 4-0 at home and have won seven-straight games played inside Walz Arena dating back to last season. Concordia is now 5-3 overall and 1-2 in conference play.

“It was good energy today. I liked the way everyone played,” Limback said. “We had waves of guys coming in playing hard defensively. We wanted to take away the 3-point line. Coming into this game they were making a lot of threes, so that was a big key. We did a good job on their leading scorer today (OJ Thok), holding him to three points. I was really pleased with our defense.”

A low post touch for Folkerts was essentially an automatic two points for the Bulldogs. He put up 18 points in the first half and then played only sparingly in the second half when the game was well in hand. He finished with 22 points on 10-for-13 shooting from the floor. Four teammates joined Folkerts in double figures in scoring: Eli Ziegler (15), Justin Damme (12), Tanner Shuck (12) and Brevin Sloup (12). All of Damme’s points came in the second half.

On this particular day, Concordia shared the ball masterfully. Of its 43 field goals, 35 were assisted. Ziegler handed out eight assists while Jake Hornick dished out six and Sloup racked up five. Their passing helped lead to 11-for-22 (.500) shooting from beyond the arc.

Mount Marty (3-5, 0-2 GPAC) showed some life early on with a 7-0 run that cut the Bulldog lead to 18-17 at the 12:54 mark. But the Lancers didn’t remain competitive for long. Folkerts followed with a personal 6-2 surge and Concordia quickly built the advantage to double figures. Mount Marty had little hope left by the halftime break when it trailed, 55-35.

Freshmen played a big role in the lopsided victory, combining for 40 points. Sloup and the fellow rookies are gaining confidence.

“It’s definitely an adjustment from high school,” Sloup said. “The speed of the game is a lot different and the physicality is a lot more, but each game all of us freshmen are getting more and more used to it. It’s a lot of fun.”

Part of Mount Marty’s troubles offensively was just getting shots off. Concordia rejected eight Lancer attempts. Kyle Pierce denied four shots and Folkerts swatted two. Mount Marty got a team high 15 points off the bench from Trent Wilson. Thok, who had been averaging 17.6 points, went just 1-for-5 from the field. The Lancers were also held well below their average of 12.3 3-point field goals per game. They went 5-for-16 from long range on Saturday.

Before breaking for the Thanksgiving holiday, the Bulldogs will be at Doane (5-4, 0-1 GPAC) on Tuesday. Tipoff from the Haddix Center is set for 8 p.m. CT. Last season Concordia swept the regular-season series from the Tigers, winning both meetings by a combined 11 points. Doane fell, 79-68, in its GPAC opener at Northwestern on Saturday.

Men's basketball looks to top Doane for fourth-straight time

SEWARD, Neb. – In its only official game this week, the Concordia University men’s basketball team will head to the Haddix Center on Tuesday for an 8 p.m. tipoff at Doane. Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has won three-straight meetings with the rival Tigers, who have a new head coach this season. The Bulldogs will also be at NCAA Division II Northwest Missouri State University for an exhibition contest on Saturday.

Tuesday’s contest will be carried by 104.9 Max Country with Tyler Cavalli calling the action. Doane will have a live webcast HERE. Northwest Missouri State will have a live webcast for Saturday’s tilt HERE.

With Chandler Folkerts feasting inside, the Bulldogs again rank as one of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation. Among all NAIA Division II teams, Concordia ranks eighth in 3-point field goal percentage (.514), 12th in field goal percentage (.514) and 18th in free throw percentage (.752). Folkerts is averaging 20.8 points and 7.9 rebounds while shooting 69.5 percent from the floor. Fellow senior Eli Ziegler has been deadly from the perimeter, shooting 44.6 percent on 3-point attempts. Ziegler is averaging a career best 17.0 points per game.

Concordia hopes to earn its first true road win of the season. The Bulldogs have been dominant at home, going 4-0 with a victory over No. 17 York College included in that run. In its first three true road contests, Concordia has fallen at the hands of Johnson & Wales University (Colo.), Northwestern and No. 21 Midland. However, the Bulldogs have won in three of their last four trips to Crete.

First-year head coach Ian McKeithen’s squad has dropped four of five games after a 3-0 start. Doane has guard Mykeil Tzul back in the fold after he sat out the second semester of last season. Tzul is averaging a team best 15.8 points. Inside, 6-foot-7 senior Nate Kuhl has been an effective scorer. The Tigers opened up the conference season with a 79-68 loss at Northwestern on Nov. 19.

Tuesday’s projected lineups

Concordia (5-3, 1-2)
G – Chris Johnstone: 11.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.3 apg, .413 fg%
G – Seth Curran: 8.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.3 apg, .432 fg%
G – Eli Ziegler: 17.0 ppg, 3.3 apg, 2.6 rpg, .446 3-pt%
F – Kyle Pierce: 3.9 ppg, 3.4 ppg, .364 fg%
C – Chandler Folkerts: 20.8 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.5 bpg, .695 fg%

Doane (5-4, 0-1)
G – Chase Stone: 11.2 ppg, 1.0 rpg, .462 3-pt%
G – Mykeil Tzul: 15.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.4 apg, .472 fg%
G – Reid Williams: 6.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, .396 fg%
G – Rylee Zimmerman: 8.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.1 spg, .419 fg%
F – Nate Kuhl: 15.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.6 bpg, .639 fg%

Bulldogs fall short in GPAC road tussle

CRETE, Neb. – The margin between winning and losing can be razor thin in the GPAC. The Concordia University men’s basketball team is all too familiar with that notion, having played in many seesaw battles over the past few seasons. In Tuesday’s rivalry renewal, the Bulldogs fell at Doane, 80-77, in a wire-to-wire clash.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has come away empty in all three of its conference road trips so far this season. The Bulldogs slipped to 5-4 overall and to 1-3 in the GPAC.

“We’re all disappointed about the loss,” Limback said. “But you have to learn and understand how you lose or how you win and what you need to improve on. Certainly this was not our best effort defensively from the 3-point line. I think that’s the biggest thing that we need to do well is guard the three.”

Despite trailing by six with under 30 seconds to play, Concordia still had a shot after a 3-pointer by Tanner Shuck and a layup from Eli Ziegler cut Doane’s lead to three (80-77). Jake Hornick then stole the inbounds pass and gave way to Ziegler, who fired a shot from well beyond the arc. Ziegler tried to draw contact, but no whistle came and the Tigers pushed the ball into the front court to drain the final few ticks.

Don’t blame the Bulldogs if they felt like they let an opportunity slip through their fingers. Boosted by some freshmen theatrics that featured back-to-back flushes in the second half, Concordia led by seven (57-50) with just under 11 minutes remaining. Off a dish from Justin Damme, Clay Reimers threw down a two-handed slam. On the very next Bulldog possession, Shuck drove the left baseline and slammed home two more points, bringing the bench to an uproar.

“I thought those guys gave us a big lift at about the 10-minute mark,” Limback said. “We needed some aggressive play and something to jump start us at both ends. I thought Clay and Jake were very active defensively and Tanner offensively did a lot of great things again for us tonight.”

Both teams rode the teeter totter for the next eight minutes. With Concordia leading 70-69, Doane went on a critical 9-2 run that crippled the visitors. Included in that spurt was a Reid Williams trey that made it 76-72. On the next possession, the Bulldogs failed to score despite four cracks at the rim.

Chandler Folkerts paced Concordia with 22 points on 9-for-18 shooting from the floor. He also chipped in four blocks and four assists. Shuck put up 13 points while making 5-of-6 shots (3-for-3 from 3-point range) and Jake Hornick went 3-for-4 from deep with 11 points. Ziegler added 13 points for a squad that shot 47.5 percent (29-for-61) for the game.

Doane was topped by the 15 points apiece by Nate Kuhle and Rylee Zimmerman. The Tigers shot 45.9 percent while earning their first GPAC win of the campaign.

The Bulldogs will be back in action on Saturday for an exhibition game at NCAA Division II Northwest Missouri State University, located in Maryville, Mo. Tipoff was moved to 6 p.m. CT. The next official game is slated for Thursday, Dec. 1 when Haskell Indian Nations University (Kan.) (1-8) makes a visit to Walz Arena for a 7 p.m. start time.

Bulldogs return home for two in friendly Walz Arena

SEWARD, Neb. – Home has been sweet for the Concordia University men’s basketball team. After another nailbiting loss on the road last week at Doane, the Bulldogs will play twice this week inside Walz Arena, where head coach Ben Limback’s squad is unbeaten. Concordia is now 5-4 overall and 1-3 in conference play.

This week’s slate begins on Thursday when Haskell Indian Nations University (Kan.) (1-9) visits Seward for a 7 p.m. tipoff. GPAC play picks back up on Saturday when the Bulldogs welcome No. 10 Dakota Wesleyan (7-2, 3-0) for a 4 p.m. tipoff. Both games can be seen via the Concordia Sports Network. Saturday’s contest will also be aired on 104.9 Max Country with Tyler Cavalli calling the action.

In its most recent outing, Concordia let a chance for a conference road victory slip away. The Bulldogs led by as many as seven points in the second half at Doane before falling, 80-77. Senior standout Chandler Folkerts put up 20 or more points for the fifth-straight game. In addition, freshmen Tanner Shuck (3-for-3) and Jake Hornick (3-for-4) were red hot from 3-point range. The Tigers went 9-for-18 from long distance while matching Concordia’s outside shooting.

Even in defeat, offensive efficiency has been a constant for the Bulldogs. They rank inside the top 20 nationally in all three major shooting categories: 3-point field goal percentage (sixth, .429), field goal percentage (11th, .510) and free throw percentage (17th, .748). Folkerts is shooting 66.0 percent from the field and averaging a career best 20.9 points per game. Shuck currently leads all GPAC players with a 3-point field goal percentage of 60.7.

In its first four tries at home, Concordia has defeated Waldorf University (Iowa), 83-76, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, 100-89, No. 17 York College, 91-77, and Mount Marty, 102-69. Dating back to last season, the Bulldogs have won seven-straight home games.

Located in Lawrence, Kan., Haskell is off to a 1-9 start. The Indians dropped a 78-75 decision at Doane in their season opener on Oct. 24. Their leading scorer is Tsalidi Sequoia, who is averaging 14.9 points per game. Meanwhile, Dakota Wesleyan enters the week with an unblemished 3-0 GPAC record. Though the Tigers said goodbye to star Trae Bergh, they still possess plenty of firepower thanks to a trio of players who average more than 15 points per game: Jason Spicer (21.1), Trae Vandeberg (18.7) and Ty Hoglund (15.0). Dakota Wesleyan is averaging 98.7 points per game (second most in NAIA Division II).

Next week’s schedule includes a trip to No. 23 Morningside (Dec. 7) and a home game versus No. 6 Northwestern (Dec. 10).

Projected lineups

Concordia: 5-4, 1-3 GPAC
G – Chris Johnstone: 10.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.2 apg, .920 ft%
G – Seth Curran: 7.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.9 apg, .436 fg%
G – Eli Ziegler: 16.6 ppg, 3.0 apg, 2.7 rpg, .435 3-pt fg%
F – Kyle Pierce: 3.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.0 bpg, .351 fg%
C – Chandler Folkerts: 20.9 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.8 bpg, .660 fg%

Haskell: 1-9
G – Bryon Elledge: 8.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.9 apg, .338 fg%
G – Zach Bruns: 12.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.0 spg, .488 fg%
G – George Hill: 12.7 ppg, 3.0 apg, 1.3 rpg, .472 3-pt fg%
F – Nakia Hendricks: 6.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, .625 fg%
F – Tsalidi Sequoyah: 14.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.1 apg, .586 fg%

Dakota Wesleyan: 7-2, 3-0 GPAC
G – Tate Martin: 12.2 ppg, 8.1 apg, 2.3 rpg, .453 fg%
G – Nate Davis: 10.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, .574 fg%, .486 3-pt fg%
G – Trae Vandeberg: 18.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg, .468 fg%, .409 3-pt fg%
G – Ty Hoglund: 15.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.44 spg, .454 fg%
F – Jason Spicer: 21.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.8 apg, .700 fg%

Bulldogs use long ball to bury Haskell

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team exemplified what it means to shoot the lights out during Thursday night’s fireworks display. The Bulldogs left visiting Haskell Indian Nations University (Kan.) in the dust by draining their first six attempts from 3-point range on the way to a 104-72 blowout victory inside Walz Arena.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has been unbeatable at home. A perfect 5-0 at Walz, Concordia is now 6-4 overall and has won each of its last eight home games.

“I thought we shared the ball really well. It’s a team-oriented group of guys,” Limback said. “I’m really pleased with our offensive movement and the way we shared the ball. Defensively, I thought we had a lot of breakdowns. There’s some stuff we’re going to have to clean up, but I’m proud of the guys.”

Haskell (1-11) has experienced plenty of heartbreak this season. The Bulldogs spared the Indians the late game trauma this time around. Just 3:32 after tipoff, Concordia had built a 20-6 lead with its impossibly hot shooting. Four different Bulldogs nailed at least one triple during the splurge of six-straight makes. Included during that stretch were two bombs apiece from Seth Curran and Eli Ziegler.

Haskell failed to cut its deficit to fewer than nine points the rest of the way. It didn’t have an answer for Concordia’s offensive clinic. The Bulldogs went 16-for-35 (.457) from long range and shot 58.2 percent (39-for-67) overall. Ziegler found the bottom of the net on 5-of-8 shots from beyond the arc and paced Concordia with 15 points in only 22 minutes of action.

Limback used 13 different players and 12 of them registered in the scoring column. In 20 minutes of action, budding freshman Clay Reimers produced 13 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.

“I think it’s my mentality coming off the bench,” Reimers said. “We have players that share the ball really well. Everybody’s getting open and we just keep passing it to the open players and knocking down shots.”

Curran finished with 13 points. He went 3-for-5 from deep. Senior Justin Damme and freshman Brevin Sloup chipped in 10 each. Needed for only 16 minutes, star post Chandler Folkerts provided the night’s most emphatic highlight when he flushed an alley-oop lob from Chris Johnstone. Folkerts put up eight points on 3-for-4 shooting.

Not only did the Bulldogs sizzle offensively, they also were the aggressors on the boards, earning a 43-29 rebound advantage. One of the few issues on this night was difficulty stopping Bryon Elledge from speeding into the lane. The jet quick guard led all scorers with 16 points for a Haskell team that shot 47.0 percent (31-for-66) from the field.

It was evident that Concordia had not overlooked the Indians, who have been victimized by a series of close losses, including two by a combined six points to teams ranked inside the top 20 at the NAIA Division I level. One benefit to the Bulldogs on Thursday was the absence of Haskell leading scorer Tsalidi Sequoyah.

“We knew that they could shoot. We just tried to bear down defensively and get stops when we needed them,” Reimers said. “We knew the offense would come.”

The Bulldogs will remain at home for Saturday’s clash with No. 10 Dakota Wesleyan (8-2, 4-0 GPAC). The high-powered Tigers rank second nationally in scoring average (98.3) behind forward Jason Spicer (20.5 ppg). Saturday’s tipoff from Walz Arena is set for 4 p.m. CT.

Walz claims another top 25 victim

SEWARD, Neb. – Walz Arena has become a hornet’s nest for visitors. Two days after sinking 16 treys in a blowout win over Haskell Indian Nations University, the Concordia University men’s basketball team shot a startling 62.5 percent from the floor and 90.3 percent from the free throw line while wiping out 10th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan, 95-79, in Seward on Saturday afternoon.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s program is now 6-0 at home this season and owns a nine-game home winning streak dating back to last season. The Bulldogs are 7-4 overall and 2-3 in conference play. Concordia also possesses a home victory over then 17th-ranked York College.

"I thought defensively our guys did a great job," Limback said. "They're a high scoring team. They average close to 100 points per game. That's really what I'm most proud of is our defensive effort."

The Tigers (8-3, 4-1 GPAC) held a lead (65-64) as late as the 8:15 mark. The Bulldogs have experienced their share of close defeats in spots such as this, but not this time. There were many contributors in the 19-3 Concordia run that staked Chandler Folkerts and company to an 83-68 advantage with under 4:30 remaining. The spurt was bookended by triples from Chris Johnstone and Eli Ziegler. From that point on, the Bulldogs maintained a lead of 10 or more points.

A strong offensive team in its own right, Dakota Wesleyan shot 50.0 percent (29-for-58) from the floor and got a game high 26 points from Jason Spicer in addition to 19 points by star guard Trae Vandenberg. It just wasn’t enough to keep with Concordia’s balanced attack.

Seth Curran led the way for the Bulldogs with a career high 20 points (8-for-10 free throw shooting) and 11 assists. Three other starters reached double figures in scoring: Johnstone (19), Folkerts (16) and Ziegler (16). Justin Damme also chipped in 10 points off the bench. Folkerts (5-for-6 from the field; 6-for-6 from the free throw line) came up just a single rebound shy of recording a double-double.

This victory was a significant one for Concordia. Dakota Wesleyan entered the contest unbeaten in conference play and already possesses three wins over ranked opponents. The Bulldogs had not defeated a team ranked in the top 10 since upsetting No. 3 Northwood University (now Keiser University) on Dec. 29, 2014.

Concordia’s offense is clicking. It showed no trouble digging out of a 9-0 hole that it faced to begin Saturday’s game. The Bulldogs came into the weekend with national rankings of fourth in 3-point field goal percentage (.433) and sixth in field goal percentage (.518).

On this particular night, Curran served as ringleader.

"I thought the player of the game tonight was Seth Curran," Limback said. "Defensively he did a great job on their point guard. Twenty points and 11 assists - the kid was amazing. It was a gutsy effort on his part."

The Bulldogs will get another shot at a ranked opponent on Wednesday when they head to Sioux City, Iowa, for a GPAC clash with 23rd-ranked Morningside (8-3, 2-2 GPAC). Tipoff from the Rosen Verdoorn Sports Center is slated for 8 p.m. CT. On Saturday, the Mustangs stepped outside of the conference and knocked off College of the Ozarks (Mo.), 103-86.

Bulldogs look to build off win over No. 10 Dakota Wesleyan

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team enters this week with momentum fresh off home victories over Haskell Indian Nations University (Kan.) and No. 10 Dakota Wesleyan. Concordia is a perfect 6-0 at home. Now it will try to nail down its first true road win of the season in an important week of conference action.

Up next is a trip to the Rosen Verdoorn Sports Center for Wednesday’s 8 p.m. CT contest at No. 23 Morningside (8-3, 2-2 GPAC). The Bulldogs will then put their nine-game home win streak on the line on Saturday when No. 6 Northwestern (12-1, 5-0 GPAC) visits Walz Arena for a 4 p.m. CT tipoff. Both games will be covered by 104.9 Max Country. Wednesday's webcast will be available HERE. Watch Saturday's game on the Concordia Sports Network.

Offensively, Concordia has been off the charts. Among all NAIA Division II teams, the Bulldogs rank second in field goal percentage (.526), fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (.429) and 11th in free throw percentage (.767). In last week’s 104-72 win over Haskell, Concordia made each of its first six attempts from 3-point range. Three days later, it shot 62.5 percent (30-for-48) from the field while sending Dakota Wesleyan to its first GPAC defeat of the season.

Paced by Chandler Folkerts (19.3 ppg), the Bulldogs can score from inside and out. Folkerts now sits at No. 6 on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,609 career points. He could be as high as fourth by the end of the week as he closes in on fourth-place Devin Smith (1,659) and fifth-place Rick Dietze (1,625). Meanwhile, sharpshooting guard Eli Ziegler figures to become the 29th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points scored by the end of the season. He is averaging 16.4 points and shooting 45.9 percent from long range.

Folkerts and Ziegler are the primary scorers, but senior guard Seth Curran was billed by head coach Ben Limback as the “player of the game” in the victory over Dakota Wesleyan. He recorded career highs of 20 points and 11 assists. He’s averaging a career high 9.4 points in his first season as a starter.

Morningside owns three victories over top 25 opponents: No. 10 Tabor College (Kan.), No. 14 Dakota State University and No. 24 Bellevue University. Bryce Koch tops the Mustangs with an average of 16.6 points per game. Three other Morningside players average double figures in scoring for a squd with GPAC wins over Mount Marty and Hastings.

Picked sixth in the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll, Northwestern has been an early season surprise. The Red Raiders enter the week having won 12-straight games, including an 89-87 home victory over Concordia. Northwestern’s Colton Kooima may be the early favorite for GPAC player of the year honors. He’s averaging 25.4 points per game.

The final pre-Christmas game for the Bulldogs will be Friday, Dec. 16 at Dordt (6-7, 0-4 GPAC).

Projected lineups

Concordia: 7-4, 2-3 GPAC
G – Seth Curran: 9.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.5 rpg, .509 fg%
G – Chris Johnstone: 11.2 ppg, 2.8 rpg, .423 fg%, .935 ft%
G – Eli Ziegler: 16.4 ppg, 3.3 apg, .524 fg%, .459 3-pt FG%
F – Tanner Shuck: 8.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, .589 fg%, .538 3-pt FG%
C – Chandler Folkerts: 19.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.6 bpg, .673 fg%

Morningside: 8-3, 2-2 GPAC
G – Alex Borchers: 7.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.0 spg, .462 fg%
G – Ryan Tegtmeier: 9.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, .391 fg%
G – Pierce Almond: 10.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg, .409 fg%
G – Brody Egger: 16.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.0 apg, .458 fg%
C – Bryce Koch: 16.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.1 bpg, .615 fg% 

Northwestern: 12-1, 5-0 GPAC
G – Nathan Wedel: 12.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 4.2 apg, .535 fg%
G – Colton Kooima: 25.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.2 apg, .482 fg%
G – Riley Francis: 11.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.8 rpg, .544 fg%
G – Chris Borchers: 4.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg, .489 fg%
F – Justin Van Kalsbeek: 6.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, .682 fg%

Bulldogs outgunned in GPAC shootout at No. 23 Morningside

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The Concordia University men’s basketball team is not afraid of a shootout. In another clash with a top-25 foe, the Bulldogs traded blows with 23rd-ranked Morningside before coming up short in a 92-88 meat grinder in Sioux City, Iowa. Concordia has yet to get over the hump on the road.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad slipped to 7-5 overall and to 2-4 in conference play. The Bulldogs had hoped to stack back-to-back victories over ranked opponents after having upset No. 10 Dakota Wesleyan inside Walz Arena last week.

“We certainly had our chances,” Limback said. “Ryan Tegtmeier had a great game for them. I thought he did some great things to take over the game late in the second half. There were some key moments where we got some stops at the end and put ourselves in a positions to make some plays. We had a couple turnovers down the stretch that really hurt us. You just can’t do that on the road in the GPAC.”

Both teams shot 50 percent or better in an entertaining contest in which neither team led by more than seven points during the entire second half. Concordia owned an advantage as late as the 7:58 mark and hung tight the rest of the way. Tegtmeier was a thorn in the Bulldogs’ side all night. During one stretch in the second half when the Mustangs grew their lead to 81-74, Tegtmeier scored 10 points in a 12-5 Morningside run. The senior guard from Davenport, Neb., then iced the game with two free throws in the final seconds.

On the other end of the floor, Concordia’s offensive efficiency continued. Eli Ziegler sizzled in the first half before tossing the baton to Chandler Folkerts in the second. Ziegler poured in 19 of his team high 22 points over the game’s first 20 minutes. Folkerts then went to work, piling up 17 of his 19 points in the second half. The senior post man notched a double-double (10 rebounds).

The Bulldogs tripped up despite going 31-for-59 (.525) from the floor and 14-for-31 (.452) from 3-point range. Ziegler knocked in 6-of-11 shots from downtown and freshman Tanner Shuck stayed hot, nailing 4-of-9 attempts from long range. Shuck (14) and Chris Johnstone (12) joined Folkerts and Ziegler in double figures.

Offense was no problem. However, slowing down Morningside was an issue. The Mustangs shot 50 percent (34-for-68) from the field and 90 percent (18-for-20) from the foul line.

“We allowed them to get into the paint a little too much and they were in the bonus with about 11 minutes left in the second half,” Limback said. “It’s hard to do that on the road. We tried to go with some zone and shake it up. Then Tegtmeier hits a couple threes on us.

“We’ll bounce back. These guys are tough.”

On Wednesday Folkerts moved up to No. 5 on the program's all-time scoring list by passing Rick Dietze (1,625). Folkerts now has 1,628 career points.

In addition to big play from Tegtmeier, Morningside (9-3, 3-2 GPAC) got solid nights from Alex Borchers (18 points) and Bryce Koch (17 points, 13 rebounds).

The Bulldogs will attempt to extend a nine-game home winning streak on Saturday when sixth-ranked Northwestern (13-1, 6-0 GPAC) rolls into town. Tipoff as slated for 4 p.m. CT inside Walz Arena. In this season’s first matchup, the Red Raiders held off Concordia, 89-87, in Orange City behind star guard Colton Kooima. The Bulldogs swept the 2015-16 season series from Northwestern.

Bulldogs fall to No. 6 Northwestern in overtime heart stopper

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team gave sixth-ranked Northwestern, the GPAC frontrunner, everything it could handle in an overtime contest that made it tough on the ticker. Ultimately, Colton Kooima and the Red Raiders put a blemish on the Bulldogs’ previously perfect home record and escaped Walz Arena with a 93-89 victory on Saturday afternoon.

The defeat halted a nine-game home win streak for fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s program. After another GPAC shootout, Concordia sits at 7-6 overall and at 2-5 in league play.

“We knew coming in that someone would have to step up (with starting guard Chris Johnstone sidelined),” Limback said. “I thought Tanner Shuck really stepped up tonight and did some things he normally doesn’t do. And Eli (Ziegler) was outstanding. I was proud of the whole team. There were moments during regulation where we had to gut out three or four stops in a row against a very good offensive team.

“But it’s disappointing. We’re all kind of quiet in that locker room. I told the guys to keep their heads up.”

Both Shuck and Ziegler put forth career high scoring totals on Saturday. Shuck rained home three of his 24 points on a buzzer beater at the end of regulation, bringing Walz into an uproar. The overtime-forcing shot was heavily guarded and came just seconds after Parker Mulder drained two free throws to push the Red Raider lead to three.

In the extra session, Concordia had brief leads on two occasions and hovered within one point of Northwestern in the final minute. That’s when Kooima surfaced with the back breaker. He missed a trey, but got another opportunity when Nathan Wedel got the offensive board and kicked it back out to Kooima. The star junior guard from Sioux Falls didn’t miss the second time around and the Red Raiders led, 92-88.

The Bulldogs got most of their offense from three players. Chandler Folkerts (14), Shuck (24) and Ziegler (28) combined for 66 points. Ziegler went 6-for-12 from 3-point range and Shuck nailed 5-of-9 shots from beyond the arc. The scoring adept Bulldogs made 14-of-30 (.467) attempts from long distance.

Offensive firepower isn’t a problem for Concordia. The sharpshooting Shuck carries a season 3-point shooting percentage of 57.7 (30-for-57).

“He’s just scratching the surface,” Limback said of Shuck. “He’s getting better every game. He’s a hard worker and a tremendous kid and I think he’ll do a lot more things as he gets older. He was a stud tonight. We’re not afraid to go to him for a game winner.”

Northwestern (14-1, 7-0 GPAC) keeps on rolling. The Red Raiders have not lost since their season opener at No. 14 Dakota State University. Three teammates joined Kooima in double figures: Riley Francis (15), Derek Buysse (12) and Mulder (12). Northwestern shot 47.4 percent compared to 48.5 percent shooting by Concordia. The Red Raiders held a decisive edge (43-32) on the boards.

After finishing final exams next week, the Bulldogs will make a trip to Sioux Center, Iowa, for a GPAC road tussle with Dordt (6-9, 0-6 GPAC) on Friday (Dec. 16). Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. CT. Concordia remains in search of its first true road victory of the 2016-17 season.

Concordia wraps up pre-Christmas schedule with Friday road trip

SEWARD, Neb. – Before celebrating the Christmas holiday, the Concordia University men’s basketball team will make a trip to Sioux Center, Iowa, on Friday. On the heels of back-to-back losses to nationally-ranked teams last week, the Bulldogs hope to return to the win column at Dordt. Friday’s contest is set to tip off at 7 p.m. CT from De Witt Gymnasium.

Friday’s game can be seen live HERE. Tyler Cavalli will also call the play-by-play for 104.9 Max Country radio.

Though fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad came up empty last week, it still has yet to slow down offensively. The Bulldogs have shot at least 47 percent from the field in 12-straight outings. In the overtime loss to sixth-ranked Northwestern, both Eli Ziegler (28) and Tanner Shuck (24) posted career high scoring totals. Among GPAC players, Shuck ranks first in 3-point field goal percentage (.526) and Ziegler ranks fifth (.474) in that same category.

Scoring has rarely been an issue this season for Concordia, which boasts national rankings of second in 3-point field goal percentage (.435), fourth in field goal percentage (.523), 12th in 3-point field goals per game (10.5) and 14th in free throw percentage (.760). Only one team has managed to limit Ziegler under 10 points all season. Last week he went off for 50 total points and 12 treys over the two outings.

Shuck and Ziegler are the brightest outside shooting compliments to the 6-foot-8 Chandler Folkerts in the paint. Folkerts continues to move up the program’s all-time lists. In Concordia history, he now ranks fourth in blocks (121), fifth in points (1,642) and sixth in rebounds (715). He needs 18 points to pass Director of Athletics Devin Smith (1,659) for fourth on the scoring list. Folkerts is averaging 18.9 points.

The Bulldogs came up just short of an upset of Northwestern last week while playing without starting guard Chris Johnstone, whose status for Friday’s game is uncertain due to an ankle injury. Freshman Jake Hornick made his first career start in place of Johnstone.

Friday’s matchup features one team (Concordia) seeking its first true road win versus another (Dordt) aiming for its first GPAC victory. The Defenders are headlined by standout junior Dalton Franken, who averages 19.0 points per game. Dordt has played recently without the services of sophomore guard Alec Henrickson (13.5 ppg) and junior forward Taylor Feenstra (7.7 ppg). While the record isn’t pretty, Dordt has hung tough with the likes of Dakota Wesleyan, Midland and Northwestern – all ranked teams.

A sizeable gap in the schedule follows after the Dordt game. Up next: Concordia will fly to Miami, Fla., for games with Florida Memorial University (Dec. 29) and St. Thomas University (Dec. 30).

Projected lineups

Concordia: 7-6, 2-5 GPAC
G – Seth Curran: 8.8 ppg, 3.8 apg, 3.9 rpg, .464 fg%
G – Eli Ziegler: 17.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, .526 fg%, .474 3-pt fg%
G – Jake Hornick: 5.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, .429 3-pt fg%
F – Tanner Shuck: 10.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, .577 fg%, .526 3-pt fg%
C – Chandler Folkerts: 18.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.7 bpg, .662 fg%

Dordt: 6-9, 0-6 GPAC
G – Marcus Winterfeld: 8.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, .506 fg%, .439 3-pt fg%
G – Chandler Brunsting: 2.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg, .474 fg%
G – Chad Barkema: 4.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, .500 fg%
F – Leighton Sampson: 11.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, .537 fg%, .490 ft%
F – Dalton Franken: 19.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.0 spg, .471 fg%, .315 3-pt fg%

Bulldogs set for two in The Magic City

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team began its journey to the southeast Tuesday morning (Dec. 27) in anticipation of this week’s games in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Bulldogs (7-6, 2-5 GPAC) will be at No. 22 Florida Memorial University (5-3) at 6 p.m. CT / 7 p.m. ET on Thursday before playing at No. 21 St. Thomas University (9-3) for a 7 p.m. CT / 8 p.m. ET tipoff on Friday. Links to Internet broadcasts of both games are provided below.

Thursday, Dec. 29
at No. 22 Florida Memorial University, 6 p.m. CT / 7 p.m. ET
WATCH LIVE

Friday, Dec. 30
at No. 21 St. Thomas University, 7 p.m. CT / 8 p.m. ET
WATCH LIVE

Due to the postponement of a conference game at Dordt that had been scheduled for Dec. 16, fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has not played since a 93-89 overtime home loss to then sixth-ranked Northwestern on Dec. 10. With two top-25 foes on the docket in The Magic City, Concordia is in the midst of a stretch of five-straight games against nationally-ranked opponents. The Bulldogs are 2-3 versus the top 25 with the wins coming over No. 10 Dakota Wesleyan and No. 17 York College.

Senior post Chandler Folkerts is poised to continue his ascent up the program’s all-time lists. Possessing current school ranks of fifth in scoring (1,642) and sixth in rebounding (715), Folkerts has his sights set on Director of Athletics Devin Smith (1,659 points and 729 rebounds), who sits directly ahead of the Milford native in both categories. Folkerts is averaging 18.8 points and 7.5 rebounds. His shooting percentage of 66.2 ranks fourth best among all NAIA Division II players.

While sitting idle, Concordia moved up to the No. 1 national ranking in terms of 3-point field goal percentage (.435). The high-powered Bulldogs also boast national rankings of third in field goal percentage (.523), 12th in 3-point field goals per game (10.5), 13th in free throw percentage (.760) and 20th in scoring offense (88.2). Among all NAIA Division II players, freshman Tanner Shuck ranks eighth in 3-point field goal percentage (.526), senior Eli Ziegler ranks eighth in 3-point field goals per game (3.5) and sophomore Chris Johnstone ranks 11th in free throw percentage (.886).

Florida Memorial currently tops the NAIA’s The Sun Conference with a perfect 4-0 league mark. The Lions will try to slow Concordia down by employing its stingy defense. Head coach Artis Maddox’s squad owns national rankings of third in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.288), seventh in field goal percentage defense (.388) and ninth in scoring defense (69.0). Charlie Nedd-Araujo paces Florida Memorial with a scoring average of 18.0.

St. Thomas is a conference rival of Florida Memorial. Since a 7-0 start that helped them rise to No. 4 in the national coaches’ poll, the Bobcats have dropped three of five games. St. Thomas has relied upon prolific scoring guard Michael Walker (21.0), who recently moved past 1,000 career points. However, Walker has not appeared in the team’s last two games. Inside force Raheem Bowman is the nation’s leader in offensive rebounds per game (4.6). Head coach Patrick Gayle has guided the Bobcats to national tournament appearances in three of four seasons leading the program.

Concordia will return to conference action on Wednesday, Jan. 4 when it hosts Briar Cliff (11-4, 4-2 GPAC) for an 8 p.m. CT tipoff.

Projected lineups

Concordia (7-6)
G – Seth Curran: 8.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.8 apg, .464 fg%, .419 3-pt fg%
G – Chris Johnstone: 11.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.6 apg, .437 fg%, .886 ft%
G – Eli Ziegler: 17.7 ppg, 3.5 apg, 2.6 rpg, .526 fg%, .474 3-pt fg%
F – Tanner Shuck: 10.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, .577 fg%, .526 3-pt fg%
C – Chandler Folkerts: 18.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.7 bpg, .662 fg%, .728 ft%

Florida Memorial (5-3)
G – Aaron Bryant: 14.5 ppg, 2.8 apg, 2.5 rpg, .413 fg%
G – Charlie Nedd-Araujo: 18.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg, .392 fg%, .346 3-pt fg%
G – Travis Mitchell: 4.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, .458 fg%, .545 ft%
F – Jaelyn Johnson-Coston: 15.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.0 spg, .427 fg%
C – Roody Romian: 3.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, .393 fg%, .700 ft%

St. Thomas (9-3)
G – Mikon Hewitt: 8.4 ppg, 7.0 apg, 2.6 spg, .476 fg%, .304 3-pt fg%
G – Armand Shoon: 11.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.2 spg, .398 fg%
G – Timothy Sada: 12.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, .369 fg%, .406 3-pt fg%
F – Kristers Zeidaks: 14.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.1 spg, .650 fg%
C – Raheem Bowman: 17.4 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 1.0 bpg, .638 fg%, .420 ft%

Folkerts, terrific trio propel Bulldogs to road win over top-25 foe

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Host Florida Memorial University entered Thursday’s game ranked as one of the top defensive teams in all of NAIA Division II men’s basketball. However, the Lions failed to find an answer for The Chanimal. Chandler Folkerts powered home 32 points and the Concordia University men’s basketball team upset No. 22 Florida Memorial, 95-85, in Miami Gardens.

In process of toppling The Sun Conference frontrunner on the road, fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad picked up its third win of the season over a ranked opponent. The Bulldogs improved to 8-6 overall.

“You never know what to expect in a game right after break,” Limback said. “I thought we had some pretty good rhythm offensively. They’re one of the top 10 teams in the nation defensively and they showed it. They’re big, strong and athletic. Offensively, we had great balance with Chandler and our perimeter guys scoring.

“To come on the road against a top-25 team that has a chance to win their league should give us a lot of confidence and toughness as we keep going.”

As part of his monster night inside, Folkerts moved past Director of Athletics Devin Smith for fourth on the program’s all-time scoring list. Folkerts, who now has 1,674 career points, made 13-of-17 shots from the floor on the evening. The Milford native led a terrific trio, including senior Eli Ziegler (24) and freshman Tanner Shuck (20), that accounted for 76 points.

Despite having last played on Dec. 10, Concordia simply picked up where it left off. It did so while up against a top-25 foe that had been limiting opponents to 38.8 percent shooting from the floor. With Folkerts scoring at will in the paint and Shuck and Ziegler combining for 11 treys on the perimeter, Concordia smoldered to the tune of 54.2 percent (32-for-59) shooting.

“All three made huge plays throughout the game,” Limback said. “Eli was a monster in the first half and Chandler dominated in both halves. I thought Tanner hit a bunch of timely threes and had some heady plays that don’t always show up in the box score. Those three guys were very consistent, which is what you want out of your starters.”

Just as encouraging as the continued offensive production were the defensive results the Bulldogs got in crunch time. Although Florida Memorial’s Charlie Nedd-Araujo got loose for a team high 22 points, the Lions cooled off over the game’s final 20 minutes (34.1 percent). Concordia led the entirety of the last 15:29 of game time after a Folkerts bucket put his squad up 58-57.

The Bulldogs bumped their lead to as many as 11 points in the waning moments of the contest. Every time the Lions made a push, Concordia answered on the other end. When Florida Memorial (5-4) got within four (76-72) with under six minutes left, Kyle Pierce surfaced with one of the team’s 13 triples. The Lions kept coming and were down only 83-78 with the ball and just under five minutes to go. Folkerts followed by dropping in two and Concordia got a key stop at the other end to take command.

The Bulldogs also own top-25 wins over No. 10 Dakota Wesleyan and No. 17 York College. Concordia has played four-consecutive games against nationally-ranked teams.

Folkerts added eight rebounds and a blocked shot to his stat line. Ziegler and Shuck were a combined 11-for-17 from long range. That hot shooting was key on a night when the Lions committed only four turnovers to the Bulldogs’ 16. On the other hand, Concordia owned a 42-33 rebound advantage.

Five players reached double figures for Florida Memorial, which settled for 42.5 percent (34-for-80) shooting after making 19-of-36 (.528) shots in the first half.

The Bulldogs will complete their two-game swing in Miami on Friday when they play at No. 21 St. Thomas University (10-3). Tipoff from the Fernandez Family Center is set for 7 p.m. CT / 8 p.m. ET. The Bobcats are another member of the NAIA’s The Sun Conference.

Bulldogs topple ranked opponent for second-straight night

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Known for its offensive prowess, the Concordia University men’s basketball team got the stop it needed in the closing seconds while holding off 21st-ranked St. Thomas University (Fla.), 74-73, in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Friday night. The Bulldogs found a way to win a road game over a top-25 opponent for the second-straight evening despite going scoreless over the final three minutes.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has now made victims of four nationally-ranked foes this season. In its first of two games in Miami, Concordia knocked off No. 22 Florida Memorial University, 95-85, on Thursday. The Bulldogs have improved to 9-6 overall.

“This certainly gives us some confidence,” Limback said. “Those are two great teams we beat on the road. We’re not going to see that kind of size again until the national tournament if we’re fortunate enough to get there. You play teams like this and it should get you ready for the grind of your league. I thought tonight we made some strides defensively and learned a lot here in Florida.”

Trailing by one point, St. Thomas called a timeout with :2.7 left on the clock. After receiving a baseline-out-of-bounds pass out top, Mikon Hewitt dribbled inside the left wing and misfired on a high-arching step back jumper. Eli Ziegler aided in forcing the miss by helping off and closing out on Hewitt. Suddenly, the Bobcats (10-4) were dealt a home loss for just the second time in seven outings.

Though Concordia allowed St. Thomas to shoot 60.8 percent (31-for-51) from the floor, it made up for it by again pouring in shots from long range. Ziegler and freshman Tanner Shuck both dropped in five treys apiece for a Bulldog team that went 12-for-27 (.444) from beyond the arc.

Ziegler equaled a game high with 17 points. He’s been particularly hot of late, draining at least five 3-point field goals in four-consecutive games. Ziegler canned two of his long balls barely over a minute apart midway through the second half as St. Thomas attempted to whittle away what had been a 15-point first-half Concordia lead.

Ziegler didn’t have to do it alone. Shuck tallied 15 points, Chandler Folkerts put up 12 points (5-for-6 shooting from the floor) and seven boards and freshman Clay Reimers tossed out a line of 10 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals. Additionally, Seth Curran dished out seven assists.

Now sitting at 952 career points, Ziegler is as confident as ever.

“The kid’s in a zone. He’s in a rhythm right now,” Limback said. “He’s making plays when we need them. That was a good lengthy team. Sometimes shooters struggle against teams that have great length. He’s moving really well and taking great shots.”

But the offense ran dry after Jake Hornick’s fast-break layup provided a 74-67 lead with 3:05 left. The Bobcats turned up the heat defensively and forced a pair of last-minute turnovers while getting within one. They would have tied it up with 48 seconds left, but Kristers Zeidaks missed an and-one free throw opportunity.

Zeidaks paced St. Thomas with 17 points. Hewitt (16 points, 11 assists) piled up a double-double while quarterbacking the offense. Two other Bobcats reached double figures for The Sun Conference member.

Concordia shot 50.0 percent (28-for-56) from the field. The Bulldogs owned a slight 28-26 rebound advantage. Turnovers were even at 21 apiece.

The Bulldogs will return to friendly Walz Arena on Wednesday when defending GPAC champion Briar Cliff (13-4, 4-2 GPAC) comes to town for an 8 p.m. CT tipoff. As part of Fan Appreciation Day, no admission will be charged. Concordia is 6-1 at home this season.

The Bulldogs will be flying out of Florida early on Sunday morning. While at a Ruby Tuesday after Friday’s win, Limback joked, “Tomorrow we’ll hit up South Beach. I don’t know if we’ll stay up late enough to hang out with Pitbull.”

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Known for its offensive prowess, the Concordia University men’s basketball team got the stop it needed in the closing seconds while holding off 21st-ranked St. Thomas University (Fla.), 74-73, in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Friday night. The Bulldogs found a way to win a road game over a top-25 opponent for the second-straight evening despite going scoreless over the final three minutes.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has now made victims of four nationally-ranked foes this season. In its first of two games in Miami, Concordia knocked off No. 22 Florida Memorial University, 95-85, on Thursday. The Bulldogs have improved to 9-6 overall.

“This certainly gives us some confidence,” Limback said. “Those are two great teams we beat on the road. We’re not going to see that kind of size again until the national tournament if we’re fortunate enough to get there. You play teams like this and it should get you ready for the grind of your league. I thought tonight we made some strides defensively and learned a lot here in Florida.”

Trailing by one point, St. Thomas called a timeout with :2.7 left on the clock. After receiving a baseline-out-of-bounds pass out top, Mikon Hewitt dribbled inside the left wing and misfired on a high-arching step back jumper. Eli Ziegler aided in forcing the miss by helping off and closing out on Hewitt. Suddenly, the Bobcats (10-4) were dealt a home loss for just the second time in seven outings.

Though Concordia allowed St. Thomas to shoot 60.8 percent (31-for-51) from the floor, it made up for it by again pouring in shots from long range. Ziegler and freshman Tanner Shuck both dropped in five treys apiece for a Bulldog team that went 12-for-27 (.444) from beyond the arc.

Ziegler equaled a game high with 17 points. He’s been particularly hot of late, draining at least five 3-point field goals in four-consecutive games. Ziegler canned two of his long balls barely over a minute apart midway through the second half as St. Thomas attempted to whittle away what had been a 15-point first-half Concordia lead.

Ziegler didn’t have to do it alone. Shuck tallied 15 points, Chandler Folkerts put up 12 points (5-for-6 shooting from the floor) and seven boards and freshman Clay Reimers tossed out a line of 10 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals. Additionally, Seth Curran dished out seven assists.

Now sitting at 952 career points, Ziegler is as confident as ever.

“The kid’s in a zone. He’s in a rhythm right now,” Limback said. “He’s making plays when we need them. That was a good lengthy team. Sometimes shooters struggle against teams that have great length. He’s moving really well and taking great shots.”

But the offense ran dry after Jake Hornick’s fast-break layup provided a 74-67 lead with 3:05 left. The Bobcats turned up the heat defensively and forced a pair of last-minute turnovers while getting within one. They would have tied it up with 48 seconds left, but Kristers Zeidaks missed an and-one free throw opportunity.

Zeidaks paced St. Thomas with 17 points. Hewitt (16 points, 11 assists) piled up a double-double while quarterbacking the offense. Two other Bobcats reached double figures for The Sun Conference member.

Concordia shot 50.0 percent (28-for-56) from the field. The Bulldogs owned a slight 28-26 rebound advantage. Turnovers were even at 21 apiece.

The Bulldogs will return to friendly Walz Arena on Wednesday when defending GPAC champion Briar Cliff (13-4, 4-2 GPAC) comes to town for an 8 p.m. CT tipoff. As part of Fan Appreciation Day, no admission will be charged. Concordia is 6-1 at home this season.

The Bulldogs will be flying out of Florida early on Sunday morning. While at a Ruby Tuesday after Friday’s win, Limback joked, “Tomorrow we’ll hit up South Beach. I don’t know if we’ll stay up late enough to hang out with Pitbull.”

Bulldogs return home fresh off two top-25 road wins

SEWARD, Neb. – The 2016 calendar year could not have ended any better for the Concordia University men’s basketball team, which last week went to Miami and defeated both No. 22 Florida Memorial University and No. 21 St. Thomas University on the road. Concordia now has momentum and owns four victories over nationally-ranked opponents as it opens this week by hosting Briar Cliff at 8 p.m. CT on Wednesday as part of Fan Appreciation Day (free admission for all fans).

The Bulldogs will also be at Dordt for a 7 p.m. CT start time on Friday in a rescheduled affair that had originally been slated for Dec. 16. Then on Saturday, Concordia welcomes Oglala Lakota College (S.D.) for a 4:30 p.m. CT contest inside Walz Arena. The first two games of the week will be carried live by 104.9 Max Country. Both home contests can be seen live via the Concordia Sports Network.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has been a monster outside of conference play. It is 8-1 with three victories over top-25 foes (No. 17 York College, No. 21 St. Thomas and No. 22 Florida Memorial) in non-league games. Now the Bulldogs will attempt to carry over that level of play to Wednesday’s tilt with defending GPAC champion Briar Cliff. Concordia has been close to getting over the hump, having dropped four of its five GPAC losses by margins of four points or fewer.

Walz Arena has been a difficult place for opponents to emerge from with victories. Concordia is 6-1 at home and has nine of its last 10 home games dating back to the end of last season. The only defeat during that stretch was a 93-89 overtime heartbreaker to first-place Northwestern, now ranked fourth in NAIA Division II. No. 12 Dakota Wesleyan suffered its only GPAC loss so far in Seward.

Concordia has been rolling offensively while following the lead of three prolific scorers. Consider the scoring averages of the following three players over the past four games: Eli Ziegler (22.8), Chandler Folkerts (19.3) and Tanner Shuck (18.3). Ziegler has knocked down at least five 3-point field goals in four-straight games. With 952 career points, Ziegler is knocking on the door the program’s 1,000-point club, which currently includes 28 members. Ziegler and company lead the nation in 3-point field goal percentage (.442).

One of those 1,000-point club members is Folkerts, who owns all-time school ranks of fourth in points (1,686), fourth in blocked shots (123) and fifth in rebounds (730). Last week he leapfrogged Director of Athletics Devin Smith ’92 on both the scoring and rebounding lists. An honorable mention All-America choice last season, Folkerts has averaged 16.1 points and has shot 64.7 percent from the floor over 105 career games.

Since a 92-73 loss at Bellevue University on Dec. 6, Briar Cliff (13-4, 4-2 GPAC) has looked more like the conference preseason favorite that it was. The Chargers have rattled off five-straight wins, including an impressive 84-66 win at No. 16 Midland. Briar Cliff also shoots at a high volume from the outside and ranks fifth nationally in 3-point field goals per game (11.3). Erich Erdman (41-for-100) and Bryan Forbes (37-for-106) won’t be afraid to pull the trigger from long range.

Dordt (8-9, 0-6 GPAC) has endured a run tough luck in conference play despite the presence of star junior forward Dalton Franken (17.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg), who has sat out the previous two games. Like many GPAC teams, the Defenders can score. They rank 18th nationally with a scoring average of 88.7 points per game. They topped the century mark in recent non-conference wins over Oak Hills Christian College (113-69) and Mayville State University (N.D.) (107-75).

Oglala Lakota College, located in Kyle, S.D., has lost both of the games it has played against GPAC teams. It fell, 124-52, to Midland and by a score of 128-84 to Dakota Wesleyan.

Projected lineups

Concordia: 9-6, 2-5 GPAC
G – Seth Curran: 8.7 ppg, 4.1 apg, 3.7 rpg, .451 fg%, .404 3-pt fg%
G – Eli Ziegler: 18.1 ppg, 3.5 apg, 2.9 rpg, .526 fg%, .496 3-pt fg%
G – Jake Hornick: 4.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.1 spg, .385 fg%
F – Tanner Shuck: 11.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.8 apg, .566 fg%, .541 3-pt fg%
C – Chandler Folkerts: 19.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.6 bpg, 0.9 spg, .679 fg%

Briar Cliff: 13-4, 4-2 GPAC
G – Shane Graves: 9.6 ppg, 4.1 apg, 2.5 rpg, 1.0 spg, .453 fg%
G – Erich Erdman: 18.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, .471 fg%, .410 3-pt fg%
G – Jay Wolfe: 9.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.4 spg, .432 fg%, .382 3-pt fg%
G – Bryan Forbes: 17.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.6 spg, .425 fg%, .349 3-pt fg%
F – Jordan Eisma: 8.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, .621 fg%, .688 ft%

Dordt: 8-9, 0-6 GPAC
G – Andrew O’Donnell: 7.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.2 spg, .442 fg%
G – Chad Barkema: 4.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 0.8 spg, .529 fg%, .714 ft%
G – Alec Henrickson: 14.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.3 apg, .413 fg%, .473 3-pt fg%
G – Marcus Winterfeld: 8.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.6 apg, .540 fg%, .469 3-pt fg%
F – Taylor Feenstra: 8.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, .568 fg%, .750 ft%

Folkerts collects second GPAC honor of 2016-17

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – A major reason for the Concordia University men’s basketball team’s successful road trip in Miami, senior post Chandler Folkerts has been tabbed the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Men’s Basketball Player of the Week, as announced by the conference on Tuesday (Jan. 3). This marks Folkerts’ second GPAC weekly award of the season and fourth in his collegiate career.

A native of Milford, Neb., Folkerts again dominated in the paint, going a combined 18-for-23 (.783) from the floor in last week’s road wins over No. 22 Florida Memorial University and No. 21 St. Thomas University. Folkerts put up a season best 32 points to go along with eight rebounds at Florida Memorial. For the week, he averaged 22.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.0 block.

Winner of the NAIA’s prestigious Emil S. Liston Award presented to basketball student-athletes that represent high athletic and scholastic achievement, Folkerts continues to rise up the Concordia’s all-time statistical lists. Last week he passed Director of Athletics Devin Smith for fourth place in scoring and for fifth place in rebounding (Folkerts’ career ranks are shown below). This season Folkerts is averaging 19.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks and is shooting a career high 67.9 percent from the floor.

Folkerts and the Bulldogs (9-6, 2-5 GPAC) return to action on Wednesday when they will host Briar Cliff (13-4, 4-2 GPAC). Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. CT.

Folkerts Concordia all-time ranks
Points – 4th (1,686)
Rebounds – 5th (730)
Blocks – 4th (123)

Bulldogs bring Miami heat back home

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team is trending up. Over their last three games, the Bulldogs have now posted two road victories over top-25 teams (both in Miami) and a triumph over the defending GPAC champions. In a get-over-the-hump win, Concordia made all the plays in crunch time to pull out an 87-79 win over visiting Briar Cliff on Wednesday night.

Confidence is soaring for fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s bunch, which has impressively gone 4-2 through a six-game stretch that has included five ranked opponents and another on the very edge of the national rankings. The Bulldogs have improved to 10-6 overall and to 3-5 in league play.

“It was a gutsy performance by our guys,” Limback said. “I’m really proud of the way we executed. I really loved our defensive effort down the stretch with some deflections and rebounds in key situations. Then you have to make your free throws. It was a big win. We needed to get back into conference and keep playing well.”

Wednesday’s result halted two win streaks for Briar Cliff – a five-game overall streak and a 13-game streak in the series with the Bulldogs. The Chargers (13-5, 4-2 GPAC) had also triumphed in each of their last four GPAC outings.

But on this night, Concordia showed the growth of its program, ending the game on a 10-0 run that erased a 79-77 deficit with 3:18 left in the game. With the Bulldogs down two, star post Chandler Folkerts got busy in the lane by rattling off the next four points. Eli Ziegler took it from there. He went for four of the final six points, adding a cherry on top with a breakaway layup in the final seconds.

Folkerts and Ziegler were again a formidable inside-outside combo. Folkerts, who totaled a game high 29 points to go with eight rebounds and three blocked shots, made 10-of-12 shots from the floor and 9-of-11 free throw attempts. After being held to six points in the first half, Ziegler went off in the second and finished with 21 points. He drained two treys late in the second half on back-to-back possessions. Both of which allowed Concordia to retake the lead.

The Bulldogs have already had their share of close-call losses in conference play. They’re fed up with them.

“It’s huge. We’ve had so many close games,” Folkerts said. “We played well down the stretch and took care of the lead. It was awesome. This is going to be really good for us going forward.”

If not for foul trouble, Folkerts would have likely had an even bigger night against a Briar Cliff squad that had no answer inside. The reigning GPAC player of the week needed only 23 minutes to pile up his 29 points.

There were also the big second-half triples from freshman Tanner Shuck (11 points, five assists). The nation’s leading 3-point shooting team by percentage, Concordia went only 1-for-7 from long range in the opening 20 minutes before heating up with 5-for-11 3-point shooting in the second half.

While the Bulldogs got hot, Briar Cliff cooled down, from 51.7 percent in the first half to 39.4 in the second. “It’s nice to see that defense come out,” Limback said.

Ziegler also dropped seven dimes and came up with five rebounds. He did not commit a single turnover in 34 minutes. On the flip side, the Chargers were paced by Erich Erdman’s 20 points. He was one of four double-figure scorers for Briar Cliff.

A busy weekend awaits the Bulldogs, who will trek to Dordt (9-9, 0-6 GPAC) for a 7 p.m. CT tipoff on Friday. The Defenders remain in search of their first GPAC victory of the campaign. Concordia will then quickly turn around and host Oglala Lakota College (S.D.) at 4:30 p.m. CT on Saturday. The Bravehearts have fallen at the hands of two other GPAC teams this season – Dakota Wesleyan and Midland.

Basketball born-and-bred Ziegler sizzling in senior season

Basketball was an easy choice for Concordia’s sharpshooting senior guard Eli Ziegler. His grandfather Bob Ziegler garnered second team All-Big Eight honors at Iowa State University. His father Mike played at Colorado School of Mines. His older sister Sullivan recently finished playing at Azusa Pacific University. Finally, his younger sister Macy is up next to play college hoops. She’s currently a senior at Arapahoe High School in Colorado.

Says Eli, “I was kind of born into a basketball family. I’ve played my whole life and I love it.”

The native of Littleton, Colo., has never played the game better than he is right now. He’s torching the nets like only few Bulldogs have before him. On the cusp of joining the Bulldog men’s basketball program’s 1,000-point club, Ziegler is knocking down 3-pointers at a rate of nearly 50 percent and he’s on a pace that could having him challenging the school’s single-season record for made 3-point field goals of 113.

Nailing outside shots may be what Ziegler’s most known for on the court, but his game has taken off in many ways. He’s even proven fourth-year head coach Ben Limback wrong (in a good way) in some aspects. A scrawny, but productive 6-foot guard coming out of Heritage High School, Ziegler saw immediate action his freshman year for a program then in a rebuilding phase.

“I’m so proud of him and happy for him,” Limback said. “We walk out of the hotel after our win against St. Thomas (in Miami) and he was complimenting one of our freshmen on how he had played in that game. Here Eli had dropped in five 3’s again and had another great game, but he was the first one to compliment someone else.

“He’s helped this team build a culture and a program. He’s a big part of that turnaround with his competitiveness and his desire to get better every day.”

Eli says that his father Mike has been his biggest influence in regards to basketball. Eli didn’t always like the scrutiny he received, but he says it helped make him better. Mike served as Eli’s coach for a short time during middle school. He still talks with his son often about the game.

“As I grew older I realized how valuable his input was,” Eli said. “Now I enjoy asking him questions after games. Sometimes it’s hard, but I realize how much he knows about the game and how he’s brought me here. I’m thankful for that.”

Though Eli weighed about “150 pounds” as Limback recalls, The Centennial State native more than held his own during his time at Heritage. He led the Eagles to the final 16 of the 48-team bracket at the Class 5A state tournament his senior year. That season he averaged 16.4 points and poured in 52-of-124 (.419) shots from beyond the arc.

Eli was the type of shooter Limback wanted to add to bolster a roster that needed improvement. Eli was recruited by the previous coaching staff and was then locked in after meeting Limback and seeing the facilities Concordia had to offer. Other small schools in California and Minnesota also came calling, but Ziegler saw his best fit at Concordia. He hasn’t looked back.

“There are such good people at Concordia that truly care about you,” Ziegler said. “I’ll have that for the rest of my life. As far as basketball, it’s things like playing in CIT. I’ve gone to other schools like Florida and places anyone would want to live, but they don’t get to play in CIT or meet the people I’ve met at Concordia. Those are the biggest things.”

It’s clear Eli has made himself comfortable at Concordia. His scoring averages have improved every year of his career. In a show of his more aggressive dribble-drive game, he’s already made more free throws this season than he even attempted in any of his first three campaigns as a Bulldog. His average of 18.1 points per game ranks him sixth among all GPAC players.

No longer just a role player who knocks down outside shots, Ziegler has become one of Concordia’s primetime performers along with the likes of post Chandler Folkerts and budding freshman Tanner Shuck.

“He came in maybe 150 pounds,” Limback said of Ziegler. “He had an opportunity to play right away because we were so young. Every day he’s in the gym working on his game. He’s developed his foot speed and his ability to finish at the rim. I never thought he’d be able to finish the way he is now at such a high percentage. I didn’t know if he’d get to this point where he can score consistently at the basket. He’s really dedicated himself to the game and to our team.”

Without a doubt, Ziegler would rather talk about the fact that the team is currently leading all NAIA Division II teams in 3-point percentage (.437) than discuss his own successes. But he’s simply been too good to be ignored. He recently went on a four-game run during which he made at least five 3-point shots in each outing.

Let’s talk about you, Eli.

“I try not to think about that,” Ziegler said. “I have goals going into games for what I’d like to shoot. I’d like to shoot above 50 percent every game. I think everyone needs game goals. This year is so much based off our team as a whole and our playing style on offense. All of our players are so unselfish. It makes it so much easier to get open shots. Everybody is swinging the ball and knows how to play basketball. I’ve never had more fun playing than this year.”

A lover of basketball and a business (marketing) major, Ziegler has come a long way since first stepping inside Walz Arena. After a recent road win over a top-25 opponent, Limback remarked, “The kid’s in a zone.”

Born – and bred – to play hoops, Eli is brimming with confidence while focused on leading his team on a second-half-of-the-season run.

Says Eli, “I’m definitely a lot more confident. I feel confident to take big shots and make big plays if that’s what my team needs me to do.”

Get. Ziggy. With. It.

Ziegler pumps in 1,000th point, leads GPAC road win

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – GPAC heart thumpers and Concordia University men’s basketball go hand in hand. These Bulldogs have learned to thrive in such tension-filled moments. Riding the hot shooting stroke of Eli Ziegler, Concordia went on the road and held off Dordt, 100-91, inside De Witt Gymnasium on Friday evening.

Winners of four in a row, fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad improved to 11-6 overall and to 4-5 in conference play. Three of the past four victories have come on the road for a team showing rapid growth.

“To come out with a win on the road in the league is huge,” Limback said. “There was a point where they took the lead and then Tanner (Shuck) hits a three and we take the lead right back. Defensively, I thought we turned it up a notch after that. Dordt’s a very physical team, very aggressive team and well-coached. I thought our guys really showed some toughness at the end.”

The Bulldogs’ mettle was tested once again down the stretch. A 9-2 Dordt run put the Defenders up 80-79 with under seven minutes to play. No sweat. Playing beyond his rookie status, Shuck surfaced with a triple on the ensuing possession. Though Dordt kept pushing, Concordia did not relinquish the lead from that point on.

The star of the show on this night was senior guard Eli Ziegler. With a “wrestling match,” as Limback termed it, going on down low, Ziegler was money in the bank on the perimeter and off the dribble drive. With just seconds remaining, Ziegler put the finishing touches on the victory by sinking career point Nos. 999 and 1,000 from the free throw line. He joins teammate Chandler Folkerts, Limback and 26 other Bulldogs in the program’s 1,000-point club.

“It’s cool. It’s better to win,” Ziegler said. “As long as we keep winning I’ll be happy.”

Limback knows exactly how far Ziegler has come in his four seasons as a Bulldog. The Littleton, Colo., native is playing the best basketball of his life.

“He’s the type of guy that will compete every day,” Limback said. “1,000 points or whatever, he’s all about the team. That’s where his head is, trying to get every win he can his senior year and help his team anyway he can.”

Ziegler wasn’t alone. Concordia’s unselfish passing led to open triples for a variety of players. With 2:12 left, Folkerts surprised Dordt by rising up for a three that tickled the twine for a 93-86 lead. Then with just under a minute left, Chris Johnstone delivered a dagger of a 3-pointer in the corner to make it a nine-point ballgame.

Four Bulldogs racked up double-figure scoring totals: Ziegler (27), Shuck (19), Folkerts (18) and Johnstone (16). That foursome spurred Concordia’s ultra-efficient offense to 58.6 percent shooting. The nation’s leading 3-point shooting team went 11-for-24 (.458) from beyond the arc. Shuck was 4-for-8 and Ziegler was 3-for-5 from downtown.

“We realized what we can do as a team when we share the ball and when we move and we cut,” Ziegler said. “And we’ve gotten big defensive stops at the end. Those have been huge these last four games.”

Even with Dordt hounding him with double teams, Folkerts was his usual productive self. He went 6-for-7 from the floor, 5-for-5 from the free throw line and grabbed 10 boards. When he went to the bench with two fouls in the first half, Justin Damme filled in nicely. He ended up with nine points. Freshman Clay Reimers also totaled nine points off the bench.

The Defenders (9-10, 0-7 GPAC) showed some feistiness of their own, as well as a hunger for their first conference win. They nailed 10 triples. Andrew O’Donnell (team high 19 points) and Alex Terpstra both knocked down three treys for a Dordt team that shot 41.4 percent on the night.

The Bulldogs conclude their busy week on Saturday when they turn around and host Oglala Lakota College (S.D.) in a nonconference tilt inside Walz Arena. Tipoff is set for 4:30 p.m. CT. The Bravehearts have been defeated by two GPAC teams this season, Dakota Wesleyan and Midland. Concordia owns a home record of 7-1.

Bench mob leads third win in four days

SEWARD, Neb. – There were some tired legs for a group playing for the third time in four days, but the Concordia University men’s basketball team found much-needed production from its bench on Saturday afternoon. The reserves accounted for 80 points in leading the Bulldogs to a 108-70 trouncing of visiting Oglala Lakota College (S.D.).

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad completed a 3-0 week and ran its win streak to five. Now 8-1 at home this season, Concordia has improved to 12-6 overall.

“We got back at about 1 a.m. last night from Dordt. We told the guys, ‘we’re going to need some guys from the bench to step up,’” Limback said. “I thought in the first half we kind of went through the motions. It was good to see some of those guys off the bench and see what they can do. Brevin (Sloup) had a nice offensive game and Clay Reimers did some good things in the second half. Justin (Damme) was finishing well inside.

“I tip my hat to the opposing team. They played really hard with a limited number of guys.”

No starter played more than 21 minutes for the Bulldogs. That meant players like Sloup had free reign to make plays. That’s exactly what the Seward High School product did. He went 8-for-9 from the floor, including 5-for-6 from 3-point range, on his way to a career and team high 21 points. Damme (19) and Reimers (15) also turned in career best point totals.

Damme took advantage of the Bravehearts’ lack of size in the post. He made 9-of-13 shots from the field and grabbed five rebounds during his 17 minutes of action.

“I had a size advantage and I’ve gotten more confidence after the last couple of games,” Damme said. “We were getting the ball into the post and spreading the floor and getting 3-point shots. It’s easier to get the ball in the post when you have 3-point shooters surrounding you.”

Oglala Lakota College (0-6) shot a respectable 44.1 percent in the first half and cut a 23-point deficit down to 13 (52-39) at the break. But five-and-a-half minutes into the second half, Concordia had built its advantage back to 20. The cozy margin meant Limback could rest his starters. Chandler Folkerts managed seven points and seven rebounds despite playing only 11 minutes. Fresh off joining the 1,000-point club, Eli Ziegler saw 16 minutes of action and had six points and four assists.

Reimers did much of his work in the second half. Not only did he surpass a career high in points, he also hauled down a personal best 11 rebounds while adding a pair of steals and a blocked shot. Additionally, sophomore guard Chris Johnstone came off the bench in tallied 10 points in 10 minutes of play. Thirteen of the 14 Bulldogs that took the court registered in the scoring column.

Concordia shot 56.6 percent (43-for-76) for the game compared to the 36.1 percent (26-for-72) clip for the Bravehearts. The Bulldogs dominated the boards, 53-27, against the smaller Oglala Lakota squad.

The Bulldogs will be back at home on Wednesday to host 20th-ranked Midland (13-5, 6-2 GPAC) at 8 p.m. CT. Concordia has already knocked off four nationally-ranked teams. The Warriors defeated the Bulldogs, 87-77, in Fremont on Nov. 16.

After a little bit of rest, Concordia will attempt to keep the good times rolling.

“We’re going to get some rest this weekend and get ready for Midland,” Limback said. “I think we’re all pretty excited about that one.”

Bulldogs to put win streak on line versus two ranked opponents

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team rides the longest win streak of the Ben Limback coaching era into a challenging week of conference action. The Bulldogs will have an opportunity to add to their collection of four victories over top-25 opponents. They will host No. 20 Midland (13-5, 6-2 GPAC) at 8 p.m. CT on Wednesday and then travel to No. 12 Dakota Wesleyan (15-5, 6-2 GPAC) for a 4 p.m. CT tipoff on Sunday.

Both games will be aired on 104.9 Max Country. Wednesday’s game will be webcast live via the Concordia Sports Network. Sunday’s contest can be seen live via Dakota Wesleyan’s Stretch Internet portal.

During the current five-game win streak, Concordia’s offensive efficiency has been off the charts. The Bulldogs shot 56.5 percent from the floor over last week’s trio of wins, including one over defending GPAC Briar Cliff, which saw its five-game win streak brought to a halt. The past five outings have seen Concordia notch two road wins over top-25 teams in addition to a pair of GPAC triumphs.

The recent tear has been spurred by the terrific trio of Chandler Folkerts (19.1 ppg), Eli Ziegler (18.1 ppg) and Tanner Shuck (11.3 ppg). Last week Ziegler became the 29th player in program history to eclipse 1,000 career points, joining the likes of Folkerts and Limback in the club. Ziegler ranks as one of the top perimeter shooters in the nation. Among all NAIA Division II players, he ranks 11th in 3-point field goals per game (3.6) and 17th in 3-point field goal percentage (.481). Ziegler has shot 43.8 percent from beyond the arc during his four-year career as a Bulldog.

Shuck has been just as impressive from long range. He’s knocked in at least one 3-point shot in every single game thus far in his freshman season. His game has especially taken off over the last seven outings while getting cozy in the starting lineup. During that stretch, Shuck has averaged 15.7 points and has shot 52.8 percent (28-for-53) from 3-point range. Only two players in the country are shooting the trey at a higher percentage than Shuck, a native of Grand Island, Neb.

While the starters received the bulk of the playing time in the win at Dordt, Chris Johnstone made a big impact in his second game back from the injury he suffered at Morningside. In 17 minutes of action, Johnstone totaled 16 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the floor. Freshman Clay Reimers has also given big minutes off the bench. Last week he averaged 11.0 points and 6.7 rebounds.

Midland is off to a big start of its own in the new year. The Warriors took down No. 4 Northwestern, 98-84, on Jan. 4 and toppled Hastings, 77-69, three days later. Damon Overton enjoyed a monster week, averaging 27.0 points, 7.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds over the two home wins. Wednesday’s matchup will again feature a battle in the post between Folkerts and Alex Starkel, who ranks fourth in school history with 1,677 career points.

Meanwhile, Dakota Wesleyan is 0-for-2 to begin 2017. The losses have come on the road to Dakota State University, 76-67, and to Northwestern, 103-88. The Tigers remain a dangerous team with a prolific offense (No. 5 nationally in scoring) led by forward Jason Spicer (21.5 ppg) and Trae Vandeberg (18.4 ppg). Concordia defeated Dakota Wesleyan, 95-79, back on Dec. 3.

Following Sunday’s road trip, the Bulldogs will return home to host Morningside (Jan. 21).

Projected lineups

Concordia: 12-6, 4-5 GPAC
G – Seth Curran: 7.7 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.1 spg, .412 fg%
G – Eli Ziegler: 18.1 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.9 rpg, .521 fg%, .481 3-pt fg%
G – Jake Hornick: 4.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.1 spg, .350 fg%
F – Tanner Shuck: 11.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.9 apg, .548 fg%, .533 3-pt fg%
C – Chandler Folkerts: 19.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 1.1 spg, .691 fg%

Midland: 13-5, 6-2 GPAC
G – Damon Overton: 15.3 ppg, 3.7 apg, 3.2 rpg, .470 fg%, .288 3-pt fg%
G – Diamontae McKinley: 15.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.0 spg, .391 fg%, .380 3-pt fg%
G – Nick Harden: 7.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.1 spg, .514 fg%
F – Nick Wood: 5.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg, .698 fg%
F – Alex Starkel: 15.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.2 apg, .601 fg%, .623 ft%

Dakota Wesleyan: 15-5, 6-2 GPAC
G – Tate Martin: 14.0 ppg, 8.8 apg, 2.8 rpg, .482 fg%, .412 3-pt fg%
G – Trae Vandeberg: 18.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.7 apg, .472 fg%, .411 3-pt fg%
G – Nate Davis: 7.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.9 apg, .463 fg%, .375 3-pt fg%
G – Ty Hoglund: 15.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.2 spg, .493 fg%, .333 3-pt fg%
F – Jason Spicer: 21.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.9 apg, .633 fg%, .802 ft%

Late Warrior run puts stop to win streak

SEWARD, Neb. – The Bulldogs led No. 19 Midland, 59-52, with less than three-and-a-half minutes remaining. The Warriors showed toughness on the road, ending the game on a 12-0 that allowed them to pull out a 64-59 road victory in an affair unlike the many GPAC shootouts that have taken place throughout this season.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad saw its five-game win streak come to a halt. During which, Concordia had found comfort in tight, late-game situations. The Bulldogs slipped to 12-7 overall and to 4-6 in conference play.

“Offensively we’re going to have some off shooting nights,” Limback said. “Tonight was one of those. I like how we defended despite our offensive struggles. You’re not going to win a lot of games shooting 44 percent. A lot of the credit goes to Midland.”

The national leader in both field goal and 3-point percentage entering the night, Concordia slumped in the second half, going just 9-for-26 (.346) from the field. The Bulldogs missed their last nine field goal attempts of the night. Midland sealed its fourth-straight victory in the closing seconds when Nick Harden swiped a shot right out of the hands of Seth Curran, who was rising up for a potential game-tying trey.

The Warriors took the lead for good when Damon Overton sliced through the Bulldog defense for two of his team high 17 points. The Warriors then led by one (60-59) with just over a minute remaining. After an empty Concordia possession, Harden knocked in two more to provide a three-point Midland advantage.

The Warriors (14-5, 7-2 GPAC) won despite Alex Starkel fouling out with 3:40 left in the game. They also had to overcome a double-double from Folkerts (16 points, 13 rebounds) and a productive night from sophomore guard Chris Johnstone (17 points, five rebounds), who returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday.

Concordia came up just short on a night when prolific outside marksmen Eli Ziegler and Tanner Shuck combined to go 1-for-11 from beyond the arc. Ziegler finished with nine points while Shuck was held to four. The Bulldogs shot 43.8 percent (21-for-48), contributing to a season low point total.

Starkel ended up with eight points and six rebounds. Chase Parsons provided the Warriors a lift off the bench. He poured in 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting. Midland shot 41.0 percent (25-for-61) from the floor, but made up for some of its shooting woes by turning it over just seven times.

The Bulldogs had been gunning for their fifth win of the season over a top-25 opponent. Concordia is now 8-2 at home on the campaign.

The Bulldogs will close the weekend with another ranked opponent on the docket. Concordia will be at the Corn Palace on Sunday for a 4 p.m. CT tipoff at No. 13 Dakota Wesleyan (16-5, 7-2 GPAC). In this season’s first meeting, the Bulldogs ran away from the Tigers by a 95-79 final score in a game played inside Walz Arena on Dec. 3.

Bulldogs host Morningside in Saturday GPAC battle

SEWARD, Neb. – Two sides separated by a single game in the league standings will go head-to-head inside Walz Arena on Saturday afternoon. The Concordia University men’s basketball team is set to tip off the contest versus Morningside at 4 p.m. CT. The Mustangs won the first meeting, 92-88, in Sioux City, Iowa, on Dec. 7.

Saturday’s game can be accessed live via the Concordia Sports Network and via 104.9 Max Country radio. Tyler Cavalli will serve as the play-by-play voice.

Due to the postponement of Sunday’s scheduled game at Dakota Wesleyan, the Bulldogs have been idle since the 64-59 home loss to No. 19 Midland on Jan. 11. Concordia fell short of claiming another top-25 victim despite limiting the Warriors to 41.0 percent shooting. The Bulldogs were paced by the 17 points from Chris Johnstone, who made his return to the starting lineup. Senior Chandler Folkerts recorded a double-double, going for 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Concordia shot an uncharacteristically low 43.8 percent from the floor in last week’s defeat. The Bulldogs have made offensive efficiency their calling card throughout most of this season. They enter the weekend ranked No. 1 nationally in field goal percentage (.526). Among all NAIA Division II teams, they also rank second in 3-point field goal percentage (.429), 10th in free throw percentage (.765), 15th in 3-point field goals per game (10.2) and 21st in scoring offense (87.9).

That scoring efficiency is a product of a quartet of prolific offensive players in The Chanimal (18.9 ppg, .682 FG%), Eli Ziegler (17.6 ppg, .468 3-pt FG%), Johnstone (11.1 ppg, .469 FG%) and Tanner Shuck (10.9 ppg, .505 3-pt FG%). Both Shuck (sixth) and Ziegler (18th) rank inside the top 20 nationally in 3-point field goal percentage. Additionally, Folkerts ranks third in field goal percentage. Folkerts appears at No. 4 on the program’s all-time scoring list (1,756 points).

Morningside (15-6, 5-5 GPAC) has been ranked as high as 23rd in the national poll this season. The Mustangs pummeled Mount Marty, 125-74, on Wednesday night. Prior to this week’s victory, Morningside had dropped consecutive games, falling at Briar Cliff and at home to Dordt. The brother of Bulldog freshman Riley Tegtmeier, Ryan Tegtmeier went off for 28 points in the Mustangs’ win over Concordia earlier in the season. Like many GPAC teams, Morningside can score. It averages 85.7 points per game. The team’s biggest star is 6-foot-6 senior Bryce Koch, who averages 17.0 points and 8.8 rebounds.

Next week will feature three games, including the 66th annual Concordia Invitational Tournament, which will be hosted in Seward on Jan. 27-28.

Projected lineups

Concordia: 12-7, 4-6 GPAC
G – Seth Curran: 7.7 ppg, 4.2 apg, 3.5 rpg, 1.0 spg, .416 fg%
G – Eli Ziegler: 17.6 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.8 rpg, .510 fg%, .468 3-pt fg%
G – Chris Johnstone: 11.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.3 apg, .469 fg%, .400 3-pt fg%
F – Tanner Shuck: 10.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.9 apg, .523 fg%, .505 3-pt fg%
C – Chandler Folkerts: 18.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.5 bpg, .682 fg%

Morningside: 15-6, 5-5 GPAC
G – Ryan Tegtmeier: 9.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.9 apg, .416 fg%, .365 3-pt fg%
G – Alex Borchers: 9.0 ppg, 2.6 apg, 1.9 rpg, 1.0 spg, .474 fg%
G – Pierce Almond: 10.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.7 apg, .411 fg%, .355 3-pt fg%
G – Brody Egger: 15.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.0 apg, .438 fg%, .376 3-pt fg%
C – Bryce Koch: 17.0 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.2 spg, 1.1 bpg, .639 fg%

Mustangs catch fire, bury Bulldogs

SEWARD, Neb. – Visiting Morningside put on a shooting clinic inside Walz Arena on Saturday afternoon, raining in 13-of-19 shots from beyond the arc to leave the Concordia University men’s basketball team in the dust. The Bulldogs had hoped to avenge a 92-88 loss in Sioux City, Iowa, on Dec. 7, but instead were left smarting from an 85-65 defeat inside Walz Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad slipped at home for only the third time this season. Concordia dropped to 12-8 overall and to 4-7 in conference play.

It was freshman Matt Hahn’s day. The native of Fremont, Neb., entered the weekend having attempted only 13 shots from beyond the arc all season. On Saturday he exploded with five treys in the first half alone for the visitors, who were an impossibly hot 11-for-12 on their 3-point tries over the first 20 minutes.

By the time the Bulldogs sprung to life, it was too late. In its last two outings, home losses to No. 19 Midland and Morningside, Concordia’s normally potent offensive attack has cooled off. The Bulldogs shot 41.7 percent (for the game on Saturday and compounded the offensive struggles by turning it over 19 times.

Saturday’s result was an anomaly in many ways. The Bulldogs had suffered six of their previous seven losses by margins of five points or less. Their largest margin of defeat this season had been 10 prior to the rough home outing versus the Mustangs (16-6, 6-5 GPAC)

Chandler Folkerts paced Concordia with 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting from the floor. The rest of the team shot a combined 17-for-49. While Morningside lit it up from the outside, the Bulldogs made only 7-of-29 attempts attempts from the perimeter.

Hahn had no trouble filling it up from the outside. He made 7-of-9 3-point shots and finished with a game high 29 points. Three other Mustangs also reached double figures in scoring: Brody Egger (14), Alex Borchers (13) and Ryan Tegtmeier (11). Besides Folkerts, Eli Ziegler (11) was the only other Bulldog to notch at least 10 points.

The jockeying for positioning within the league standings will continue on Wednesday when the Bulldogs host Hastings (12-11, 6-5 GPAC). Game time is set for 8 p.m. CT in what will be the first meeting of the season between Concordia and the Broncos. That contest will lead into the 66th annual Concordia Invitational Tournament that will get underway Friday afternoon.

Men's CIT preview: 66th annual event returns to Seward

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second time in the history of the Concordia Invitational Tournament, Walz Arena will serve as the host for the grand event that is now in its 66th year. The Bulldog men’s basketball team held off Concordia-Wisconsin, 86-85, in last season’s CIT championship heart stopper in River Forest, Ill. Blackboard and Chartwells are sponsoring this year’s CIT.

Head coach Ben Limback’s squad will take the floor at 8 p.m. on Friday in the final contest of CIT’s opening day. CUNE draws Concordia-Chicago in the opening round. All four men’s and all four women’s games will be streamed live via the Concordia Sports Network. Bulldog games will also be carried live by 104.9 Max Country with Tyler Cavalli calling the action.

Wednesday vs. Hastings: Before CIT tips off on Friday, Concordia will welcome Hastings (12-11, 6-5 GPAC) for an 8 p.m. contest inside Walz Arena on Wednesday. The Broncos defeated Doane, 86-69, and No. 4 Northwestern, 90-85 (double overtime), in last week’s action. Senior guard Rich Williams came off the bench to supply 50 points over the two victories for Hastings. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs shot a season low 41.7 percent from the field in last week’s 85-65 home loss to Morningside. Concordia will try to regain its shooting stroke following back-to-back home defeats within the GPAC.

2017 CIT SCHEDULE

Friday, Jan. 27 (all times Central)

  • 1 p.m. - Ann Arbor vs. Chicago (women)
  • 3 p.m. - Ann Arbor vs. Wisconsin (men)
  • 6 p.m. - Nebraska vs. Wisconsin (women)
  • 8 p.m. - Nebraska vs. Chicago (men)

Saturday, Jan. 28

  • Noon  - Women's consolation game
  • 2 p.m. - Men's consolation game
  • 5 p.m. - Women's championship game
  • 7 p.m. - Men's championship game
  • Trophy presentation and all-Concordia devotions following last game

CUNE men’s CIT titles (26)

1964 | 1977 | 1983 | 1984 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2009 | 2012 | 2014 | 2016

CUNE has pieced together a long history of success at CIT. Twenty four of the program’s event record 26 titles have come since 1983. The Bulldogs have twice put together streaks of seven-consecutive CIT titles. The most recent such string occurred between 1999 and 2005 under head coach Grant Schmidt. Limback, who played for Schmidt, has the unique perspective of having coached two different Concordias to CIT titles. Limback helped Concordia-Ann Arbor break through with its first two CIT titles in school history. He’s added two more CIT titles since returning to Seward.

The Bulldogs will attempt to repeat their 2016 title behind reigning CIT MVP Chandler Folkerts. The Chanimal is in the midst of a stellar senior season, during which he has averaged 18.9 points and 7.9 rebounds. Over last year’s CIT wins over CUAA and CUW, Folkerts totaled 45 points and 19 rebounds. Folkerts was joined on the 2016 all-tournament team by teammate Robby Thomas. Folkerts also played his way onto the all-tournament team after the Bulldogs won CIT in Mequon, Wis., in 2014.

CUAA picked up its third CIT championship in 2015 when it protected its home court with a last-second buzzer-beating 3-pointer to sink CUNE, 52-49. Concordia-Chicago owns the second most CIT titles in the field with 14. CUW has also won it three times. The last time the Falcons took home the trophy was 2013 when they knocked off the Bulldogs in Seward in the championship clash.

The feeling of winning CIT titles never gets old. Said Folkerts following last year’s championship victory over CUW, “It’s awesome. It’s so fun winning here. So many fans come out and they’re all rowdy. It’s so fun. Playing in an environment like this, it’s huge. It’s great to win.”

SCOUTING THE FIELD

Concordia University, Nebraska
2016-17 Record: 12-8
Head Coach: Ben Limback (4th season)
All-Time CIT Titles: 26 (most recent: 2016)
Top Player: Chandler Folkerts (19.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.5 bpg, .685 fg%, .746 ft%)
Offensive PPG: 86.8 (26th in NAIA Division II)
Defensive PPG: 79.9 (82nd in NAIA Division II)
Quick Hitter: The Bulldogs are one of the most potent offensive teams in NAIA Division II, sporting national rankings of third in 3-point field goal percentage (.418), third in field goal percentage (.521), 10th in free throw percentage (.764), 19th in 3-point field goals per game (10.1) and 26th in scoring offense (86.8).

Concordia University, Ann Arbor
2016-17 Record: 8-13
Head Coach: Ricky Yahn (4th season)
All-Time CIT Titles: 3 (most recent: 2015)
Top Player: Connor Phee (16.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, .547 fg%, .794 ft%)
Offensive PPG: 70.9 (121st in NAIA Division II)
Defensive PPG: 73.5 (29th in NAIA Division II)
Quick Hitter: Luke Diekevers and Jalen Thompson both scored 19 points in leading the Cardinals to a 74-70 upset at No. 7 Taylor University on Dec. 29. CUAA is 3-7 in its last 10 games, but two of the three victories have come against ranked opponents.

Concordia University, Chicago
2016-17 Record: 4-13
Head Coach: Randy Rogers (2nd season)
All-Time CIT Titles: 14 (most recent: 2011)
Top Player: Mitch Pelissier (17.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.5 apg, .435 fg%, .343 3-pt fg%)
Offensive PPG: 78.3 (133rd in NCAA Division III)
Defensive PPG: 87.0 (T-396th in NCAA Division III)
Quick Hitter: The Cougars enter CIT ranked near the bottom of NCAA Division III in scoring defense (396th out of 416 teams) and allow opponents to shoot 45.1 percent from the floor (289th nationally). Randy Rogers’ up-tempo squad is steered by guard Mitch Pelissier, who has scored nearly 600 points over his first two seasons in River Forest.

Concordia University, Wisconsin
2016-17 Record: 10-6
Head Coach: Shawn Cassidy (10th season)
All-Time CIT Titles: 3 (most recent: 2013)
Top Player: Eric Kittel (15.8 ppg, 5.5 apg, 4.3 rpg, 2.1 spg, .430 fg%, .350 3-pt fg%)
Offensive PPG: 83.2 (56th in NCAA Division III)
Defensive PPG: 79.3 (323rd in NCAA Division III)
Quick Hitter: The Falcons return to the site of their most recent CIT championship. Senior guard Eric Kittel (triple-double on Jan. 21) makes CUW go. He’s totaled 1,314 points and has started all 97 games of his career. CUW sits in third place in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference.

Curran, Bulldogs rebound by knocking off Hastings

SEWARD, Neb. – Life is much easier when the shots are falling. They weren’t in back-to-back home losses that led into Wednesday’s conference tilt with visiting Hastings. This time around the Concordia University men’s basketball team shot 57.7 percent in the second half and held on in crunch time for a 78-76 victory inside Walz Arena.

It was a crucial win for fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad as it tries to climb up the conference ladder. Currently in seventh place, the Bulldogs now sit at 13-8 overall and at 5-7 in GPAC action.

“That was a gutsy defensive effort down the stretch there,” Limback said. “We had free throw misses and about everything that could have went wrong, I thought, did. In the first half, Chandler (Folkerts) gets three fouls and we struggle from three. In the second half, we started to get it going.

“I’m proud of our guys to be able to get two stops like that (to seal the win).”

The Bulldogs built a lead as large as 12 points in the second half, but anxious moments surfaced in the closing seconds. A seven-point lead (77-70) with less than a minute remaining got whittled all the way down to one (77-76) after Trey Moore buried a 3-pointer that came after his own free throw miss. Just 24 seconds remained.

The final ticks were a calamity. Concordia missed the first of a one-and-one. Then Hastings turned it over. Then the Bulldogs missed another front end of a one-and-one. Then Hastings turned it over again on a pass that was stolen by the hero of the night, Seth Curran. All of that happened in less than 30 seconds.

“We just knew we needed some stops to win the game,” Curran said. “The last two possessions they didn’t even get shots off. We got two big steals and we sealed it there.”

Senior guards in Curran and Eli Ziegler possessed the hot hands. Curran knocked down six treys on his way to a team high 19 points (one off a career high). He also added six dimes and three steals in 36 minutes of action. Ziegler added 17 points of 5-for-11 shooting from the floor. Curran poured in his biggest triple with just over two minutes left with Concordia nursing a two-point lead. Their offense was much needed on a night when Folkerts was limited to 19 minutes due to foul trouble.

Star Bronco guard Trey Moore started slow, but then got going late in the game. Moore tallied 13 of his game high 20 points over the final five minutes of the game in attempting to rally Hastings from a double-digit deficit. Instead, the Broncos (12-12, 6-6 GPAC) fell for the first time in three tries. They were coming off a 90-85 double overtime upset of then fourth-ranked Northwestern.

Jake Hornick and Chris Johnstone added 10 points apiece for Concordia, which shot 49.1 percent for the game, compared to Hastings’ 44.8 percent shooting. The Bulldogs went 12-for-28 from 3-point range.

Concordia hopes this win springs a late-season run.

“We’ve had some tough ones lately,” Curran said. “We had a big layoff after that Midland game and that kind of messed up our rhythm against Morningside. We really needed this one.”

Now the Bulldogs can finally place their full attention upon the 66th annual Concordia Invitational Tournament, which returns to Seward for the 2017 event. CUNE will host Concordia University-Chicago (4-14) at 8 p.m. CT on Friday. The winner will move onto the CIT championship game at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday. The Bulldogs are defending CIT champs.

Folkerts, Bulldogs slam Cougars

SEWARD, Neb. – The Bulldog men’s basketball team wanted to avoid another nailbiter, so it went about rolling visiting Concordia University-Chicago as part of a dominant second-half performance. CUNE shot 54.8 percent from the field and won, 104-82, on Friday night while completing the first step in its bid to defend its 2016 Concordia Invitational Tournament.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s Bulldogs are playing host to CIT for the first time since 2013. CUNE has won back-to-back home games and has improved to 14-8 overall.

“It was electric. It was awesome,” Limback said. “I told the guys that these are the moments you’ll never forget. The fans were outstanding. The electricity in the building was unreal. We’re excited about getting to that next step with the championship game. Hopefully we have that same environment tomorrow.”

The Bulldogs put on a show worthy of the electric Walz crowd that gathered for the 66th annual event. Nearly automatic inside, Chandler Folkerts brought the house down with a tip slam early in the second half that helped ignite the onslaught. Later on, Folkerts snagged a lob from Eli Ziegler and threw it down with authority. The reigning CIT MVP, Folkerts recorded 20 points and nine rebounds.

When Folkerts wasn’t abusing the rim inside, the Bulldogs burned the Cougars from the perimeter. CUNE nailed 13-of-29 shots from 3-point range in the process of busting out of a recent mini shooting slump. In his first taste of CIT, freshman Tanner Shuck poured in 15 points, made 4-of-7 shots from beyond the arc and grabbed seven rebounds.

“You don’t get many opportunities to play in atmospheres like this,” Shuck said. “Everyone’s excited all around campus. It’s just a lot of fun seeing everyone out there. It makes it easy to get motivated to play.”

CUNE owned a fairly modest 10-point lead (46-36) at the half, but the advantage quickly ballooned after the intermission. A 12-0 Bulldog run got started with Folkerts’ monster jam and was capped by a triple apiece from Chris Johnstone and Shuck. CUNE then led, 60-40. The Cougars (4-15) never got closer than 17 points the rest of the way.

Shuck’s reemergence may have been the biggest story of the night for the Bulldogs. After having been held to single-digit point totals in four-consecutive outings, the Grand Island native regained his shooting touch.

“I feel like our guys understand how to get open shots,” Limback said. “It’s just about having that confidence. Guys like Eli will just keep shooting no matter what. They got us off to a good start in the first half.

CUC showcased a star of its own in prolific scoring guard Mitch Pelissier. He went 9-for-16 from the field and turned in a game high 21 points. Pelissier led an attack that shot 48.8 percent (31-for-64) for the night.

Folkerts and Shuck were joined by Ziegler (14) and Johnstone (13) as double-figure scorers for the Bulldogs. Ziegler dished out six assists. Off the bench, Clay Reimers and Kyle Pierce both provided eight points. Justin Damme and Jake Hornick posted seven points apiece.

The Bulldogs hope to repeat as CIT champions and earn their 27th title in program history. Saturday’s championship contest versus Concordia University, Ann Arbor (9-14) is set to get underway at 7 p.m. CT. The two squads also went head-to-head in the 2015 CIT championship game that went in the Cardinals’ favor. Limback spent nine seasons as the head coach at Ann Arbor, leading the program to its first two CIT titles in school history.

“It’s an exciting opportunity,” Shuck said. “I’m ready to get after it. We’re all ready for it.”

Behind MVP Folkerts, Bulldogs dominate CIT at home

SEWARD, Neb. – A year ago the Bulldog men’s basketball team breathed a sigh of relief when a potential CIT championship game-winning buzzer beater rimmed in and out. The 2017 edition of the Concordia Invitational Tournament championship game featured the same high-level intensity, but without the late-game drama. CUNE left no doubt on its way to an 85-58 title win over visiting Concordia University, Ann Arbor.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback has now guided teams to five CIT titles in his coaching career that also included nine years at the helm of Saturday’s opposing program. The Bulldogs own a CIT record 27 all-time titles. The 2016-17 CUNE squad now stands at 15-8 overall on the strength of three-straight victories.

“It was definitely special,” Limback said of coaching the Bulldogs at home in CIT for the first time. “There were a lot of great moments. You see all the alumni back and family and friends and your realize it’s a special moment to be here at home. It’s just an amazing crowd and a fun time that our guys had this weekend.”

CIT MVP for the second year in a row, Chandler Folkerts shouldered only a small portion of the scoring burden in the championship victory. The big man showed he can also facilitate. In addition to his 11 points and 12 rebounds, The Chanimal kicked the ball out for seven assists.

After trailing 17-15 almost midway through the first half, the Bulldogs got rolling with a 33-9 run that put them in total control. During that spurt, Folkerts threw down an emphatic two-handed jam, but there were many contributors involved. Chris Johnstone twirled through traffic for layups and Seth Curran dropped in one of his three treys on the night in helping CUNE build a 50-30 halftime lead in front of a bonkers home crowd.

Knowing it was his final CIT, Folkerts would have scripted it to go down exactly this way.

“It’s so awesome for our fans and for each other,” Folkerts said. “To win in an environment like that is great. There’s nothing quite like it.”

This time out, it truly was a total team effort for CUNE. Curran paced the squad with 14 points. Three other Bulldogs registered in double figures: Folkerts, Justin Damme (10) and Kyle Pierce (10). As a team, CUNE shot 47.7 percent (31-for-65) from the floor while limiting CUAA to 41.1 percent (23-for-56). The Cardinals were just 2-for-11 from beyond the arc.

CUAA (9-15), led by 19 points from all-tournament selection Connor Phee, never cut its deficit to fewer than 15 points in the second half. CUNE snuffed out a potential comeback and got a measure of revenge for its 2015 CIT title loss to the Cardinals in Ann Arbor.

“First half we struggled a little bit early, but then I thought we started guarding better,” Limback said. “Our defense was leading to offense. Seth Curran made some big threes in the first half. I thought Kyle Pierce and Jake Hornick gave us a good lift off the bench. Our bench this whole weekend was outstanding. The first half set the tone.”

Shuck joined Folkerts on the all-tournament team. After posting 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists in Friday’s victory over Concordia University, Chicago, Shuck added eight points, five rebounds and three assists in the championship.

The string of five-straight home games continues on Wednesday when the Bulldogs host Grace University (12-11) at 7 p.m. CT. CUNE has lost only once when venturing outside of conference play. The Bulldogs are 11-3 at home this season.

2017 CIT All-Tournament
MVP – Chandler Folkerts, CUNE
Eric Kittle, CUW
Mitch Pelissier, CUC
Connor Phee, CUAA
Tanner Shuck, CUNE

Bulldogs set to move on from CIT title

SEWARD, Neb. – The 66th Concordia Invitational Tournament has come and gone. CIT champions for the 27th time in program history, the Concordia University men’s basketball team can now zero in on the stretch run. Just seven games remain on the regular-season schedule for fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad. Up next is another home contest with Grace University serving as the opponent for Wednesday’s 7 p.m. CT tipoff. Then on Saturday, the Bulldogs return to GPAC play with a trip to Mount Marty for a 4 p.m. tilt.

Wednesday’s game will be available via the Concordia Sports Network. Saturday coverage will include 104.9 Max Country radio and a webcast provided by Mount Marty.

Good vibes have returned for CUNE, which won all three home games last week, triumphing over Hastings, 78-76, Concordia-Chicago, 104-82, and Concordia-Ann Arbor, 85-58. Over those three outings, the Bulldogs shot 50.7 percent from the floor while averaging 89.0 points per game. At CIT, Chandler Folkerts took home tournament MVP honors for the second year in a row. He was joined on the all-tournament team by freshman Tanner Shuck.

After going a combined 9-for-43 from 3-point range in back-to-back home losses to Midland (Jan. 11) and Morningside (Jan. 21), CUNE heated back up. Last week the Bulldogs went 35-for-82 (.427) from beyond the arc while sinking at least 10 treys in each game. Shuck regained his shooting stroke and netted 4-of-7 3-point tries in the victory over CU-Chicago. It was an especially big week of long-range shooting for senior Seth Curran, who made 10-of-20 shots from the perimeter. He scored 19 points in the win over Hastings.

CUNE remains one of the most efficient offensive teams in NAIA Division II. Nationally, it ranks second in field goal percentage (.519), third in 3-point field goal percentage (.419), 11th in 3-point field goals per game (10.3), 17th in free throw percentage (.754) and 25th in scoring offense (87.0). Folkerts ranks fifth nationally in field goal percentage (.674) while Shuck ranks 13th among all NAIA Division II players in 3-point field goal percentage (.475).

Grace is affiliated with the National Christian College Athletic Association and is located in Omaha. The Royals (12-11) own wins over quality opponents such as Dakota State (S.D.), Hastings, Nebraska Wesleyan and York. In its most recent outing, sophomore guard D.J. Hanes piled up 42 points in a 106-96 loss to Haskell Indian Nations (Kan.).

Mount Marty (4-18, 0-12 GPAC) remains in search of its first conference victory. The Lancers’ best chance for a GPAC win came on Jan. 7 when it dropped an 81-79 decision at Dordt. Mount Marty has been trigger happy from the 3-point arc, having averaged 29.0 3-point attempts per game this season. Junior guard OJ Thok has nailed 61-of-148 (.412) tries from 3-point range.

Next week Concordia will host Doane (12-13, 3-10 GPAC) at 8 p.m. on Feb. 8 before a trip to No. 25 Briar Cliff on Feb. 11.

Projected lineups

Concordia (15-8, 5-7 GPAC)
G – Seth Curran: 8.4 ppg, 4.1 apg, 3.5 rpg, .433 fg%, .378 3-pt fg%
G – Eli Ziegler: 16.7 ppg, 3.8 apg, 3.0 rpg, .488 fg%, .442 3-pt fg%
G – Chris Johnstone: 10.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.2 apg, .461 fg%, .375 3-pt fg%
F – Tanner Shuck: 10.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, .500 fg%, .475 3-pt fg%, .800 ft%
C – Chandler Folkerts: 18.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.4 bpg, .674 fg%

Grace (12-11)
G – D.J. Hanes
G – Jarrod Sheffield
G – Austin Shappell
F – Galat Toang
F – Calisto Nyambura

Mount Marty (4-18, 0-12 GPAC)
G – OJ Thok: 13.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.5 apg, .407 fg%, .412 3-pt fg%
G – Hunter Martin: 6.7 ppg, 2.4 apg, 1.9 rpg, .371 fg%, .880 ft%
G – Zach Telles: 6.5 ppg, 1.1 rpg, .354 fg%, .350 3-pt fg%
F – Drew Cheskie: 11.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, .589 fg%
G – Patrick Ciganovic: 10.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, .391 fg%, .333 3-pt fg%

Folkerts, Ziegler power second half rout of Grace

SEWARD, Neb. – A 28-3 spurt in the second half allowed the Concordia University men’s basketball team to blow open what had been a tightly contested affair. Fresh off the 27th CIT championship in program history, the Bulldogs used the potent inside-outside combo of Chandler Folkerts and Eli Ziegler to flush visiting Grace University, 107-70, inside Walz Arena on Wednesday evening.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has completed a seven-game home stand during which it went 5-2. Concordia has won four-straight times and now sits at 16-8 overall.

“We really challenged them at half,” Limback said. “Jake Hornick and Clay Reimers had huge nights off the bench and really sparked us defensively. Second half, Eli and Tanner (Shuck) started getting loose and Chandler inside was a handful.”

Wednesday’s contest was a battle through 20 minutes. The Royals (12-12) shot just a shade under 65 percent in the first half and took a one-point lead (44-43) to the locker room. The second half was a completely different story. The Bulldogs dug in defensively, held Grace to 27.3 percent shooting over the final 20 minutes and outscored the visitors 64-26 as part of a dominant half of play.

Folkerts (24 points, 10 rebounds) finished with his second-straight double-double and Ziegler got crazy hot after the break. During a period of less than three-and-a-half minutes, Ziegler poured in 14 of his 21 points in an impressive display. His trey at the 11:28 mark gave Concordia its first 20-point cushion (73-53) of the evening.

The Bulldogs somehow flipped a switch after halftime. They got quality play up and down the roster. Hornick, a freshman reserve from Loveland, Colo., totaled seven points, three assists and two steals.

“I think our defensive intensity really stepped up (after halftime),” Hornick said. “We were flying around a lot more and doing all of the hard work things that we weren’t doing in the first half.”

Reimers enjoyed one of the best statistical outings of his young career. The freshman from Lincoln went for 15 points, five rebounds and four steals in 16 minutes of action. Shuck, a CIT all-tournament selection, went 4-for-8 from 3-point range and accumulated 17 points to go along with six rebounds. Chris Johnstone also reached double figures in scoring with 10.

The bench accounted for 33 points. Even Zach Friel’s shot from beyond the arc bounced around the rim and went down. Said Limback, “I’m just proud of the guys off the bench and what they’ve given us the last three or four games. They stepped up tonight and really got us going again.”

Concordia shot 53.7 percent (36-for-67) from the field and distanced itself by going 25-for-31 (.806) from the foul line. Grace shot 45.3 percent (29-for-64) and attempted only 11 free throws.

The Royals, affiliated with the National Christian College Athletic Association, own wins this season over the likes of Hastings, Nebraska Wesleyan and York College. They were led by the 21 points from D.J. Hanes. Galat Toang added 12 points and eight rebounds.

The Bulldogs make their return to conference play on Saturday when they make a trip to Mount Marty (4-19, 0-13 GPAC) for a 4 p.m. CT tipoff. Concordia, which beat the Lancers, 102-69, in Seward on Nov. 19, will look for a regular-season sweep.

Concordia brushes aside Mount Marty with paint production

YANKTON, S.D. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team rode the wave of a 24-2 run and a dominant inside game for a comfortable conference road victory. The Bulldogs shot a sizzling 60.8 percent from the floor while sending host Mount Marty to another defeat, 82-61.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has won five-straight games and has improved its record to 17-8 overall and to 6-7 in conference play. The last four victories have all come by margins of greater than 20 points.

“I felt like we set the tone defensively in the first half,” Limback said. “I thought our guys played hard defensively for the majority of the game. They only had seven points with about five minutes left in the first half. Our guys came to work today and I was proud of their effort overall.”

Chandler Folkerts (19 points) and Clay Reimers (15 points) worked beautifully inside. They combined to go 13-for-16 from the floor. The lanky 6-foot-7 Reimers even dished out four assists. The product of Lincoln East High School has now posted back-to-back 15-point games.

That duo had a lot to do with Concordia jumping out to a 34-7 lead that left the Lancers (4-20, 0-14 GPAC) playing catch up all night.

“Clay gave some great minutes again off the bench,” Limback said. “It was fun to see him and Chandler connect on some high-low. They were really overplaying the perimeter and collapsing on Chandler when we did have opportunities to throw it in. I thought Clay did a great job making reads from the high post and also posting himself. Chandler made some great passes. It was good to see those two guys connect.”

Mount Marty made a second half charge that whittled the Bulldog lead down to 13 (60-47) after Zane Schumaker’s trey with 9:05 left in the game. Concordia promptly responded with a 10-0 run that included a 6-for-6 free throw effort. Folkerts put home six points during the splurge that essentially put the game away.

The Lancers’ field goal percentage of 33.9 was a season low for Bulldog opponents. Hunter Martin (game high 24 points) did most of the damage for Mount Marty, which went only 6-for-21 (.286) from 3-point range. Said Limback, “I really feel like our team is starting to come together defensively and it’s a nice time of the year to do that.”

Eli Ziegler (10 points) joined Folkerts and Reimers in double figures. Jake Hornick added eight points off the bench and Seth Curran totaled seven points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. Concordia’s efficiency in the paint meant it relied very little upon the 3-point shot (3-for-14).

The Bulldogs have now won five games in a row for the second time this season. They are 10-2 over their past 12 outings. They moved to 4-4 in true road games.

The Bulldogs will play at home for the eighth time in nine outings when they welcome Doane (12-14, 3-11 GPAC) to Walz for an 8 p.m. CT tipoff on Wednesday. Concordia is looking to even the season series after dropping a nailbiter, 80-77, at Doane on Nov. 22. The Bulldogs are 12-3 at home this season.

Three GPAC tilts make up this week's men's hoops slate

SEWARD, Neb. – Just five games and two weeks remain in the regular season for the Concordia University men’s basketball team, now riding a five-game win streak. The Bulldogs hope to move up from their current seventh place positioning in the GPAC standings during the stretch run. Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad stands at 17-9 overall and at 6-7 in conference play.

This week’s schedule
Wednesday vs. Doane (12-14, 3-11 GPAC), 8 p.m.
Saturday at No. 25 Briar Cliff (20-6, 10-4 GPAC), 4 p.m.
Sunday at No. 9 Dakota Wesleyan (21-6, 12-3 GPAC), 4 p.m.

All three of this week’s games will be carried live by 104.9 Max Country. Wednesday’s contest can be watched live on the Concordia Sports Network. For the weekend tilts, Briar Cliff and Dakota Wesleyan will provide webcast coverage.

During Concordia’s active win streak, it has averaged 91.0 points per game and has shot 54.7 percent from the field. The Bulldogs also held Mount Marty to 33.9 percent shooting, a season low for opponents, in last week’s 82-61 victory in Yankton, S.D. Concordia is 10-2 over its last 12 outings. Freshman Clay Reimers has come on strong, posting back-to-back 15-point games. He’s made 12-of-16 shots from the floor and has grabbed 10 rebounds over the past two outings.

Star senior Chandler Folkerts recently became just the second player in program history to reach 800 career rebounds. With his career winding down, the Milford native has a shot to move up another rung on the all-time scoring list. His current all-time school ranks are: second in rebounds (816), fourth in scoring (1,857) and fourth in blocked shots (133). He notched his seventh double-double of the season by totaling 24 points and 10 rebounds in last week’s blowout of Grace University.

With one more win, Concordia will equal a high water mark for victories in a season since Limback became head coach prior to the 2013-14 season. The Bulldogs’ win totals have trended upward from eight to 16 to 18 over the previous three years. Not since the 2008-09 campaign has the program reached the 20-win plateau.

On Wednesday the Bulldogs will play their eighth home game in their past nine outings. Doane will serve as the opponent. Second from the bottom in the GPAC, the Tigers defeated Concordia, 80-77, in Crete on Nov. 22. Doane’s other two conference wins have come over Dordt and Mount Marty. Nate Kuhl tops the team in scoring (16.3), rebounding (7.0) and blocked shots (1.7).

The Bulldogs topped Briar Cliff, 87-79, in Seward on Jan. 4. The defending GPAC champion Chargers remain in the hunt for another conference regular-season title. They sit just one loss out of first place. Briar Cliff has won seven of eight since falling at Concordia. Head coach Nic Nelson’s squad has many strong perimeter shooting options, including leading scorer Erich Erdman (18.9).

Dakota Wesleyan also fell victim inside Walz Arena this season. The Tigers have rebounded and sit atop the conference with a 12-3 GPAC mark. Behind Jason Spicer (21.0) and Ty Hoglund (17.9), Dakota Wesleyan sports national ranks of first in field goal percentage (.527) and fifth in scoring offense (91.7). Head coach Matt Wilber’s squad is 12-1 at home this season.

Projected lineups

Concordia (17-8, 6-7 GPAC)
G – Seth Curran: 8.1 ppg, 4.1 apg, 3.5 rpg, .433 fg%, .366 3-pt fg%
G – Eli Ziegler: 16.g ppg, 3.9 apg, 3.0 rpg, .485 fg%, .433 3-pt fg%
G – Chris Johnstone: 10.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.1 apg, .466 fg%, .373 3-pt fg%
F – Tanner Shuck: 10.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.2 apg, .497 fg%, .469 3-pt fg%
C – Chandler Folkerts: 18.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 1.1 spg, .679 fg%

Doane (12-14, 3-11 GPAC)
G – Mykeil Tzul: 12.7 ppg, 3.2 apg, 2.9 rpg, .419 fg%, .400 3-pt fg%
G – Reid Williams: 7.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.4 apg, .454 fg%, .373 3-pt fg%
G – Rylee Zimmerman: 12.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.2 spg, .500 fg%, .391 3-pt fg%
F – Quin Conner: 4.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, .450 fg%, .462 3-pt fg%
F – Nate Kuhl: 16.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.7 bpg, .601 fg%

Briar Cliff (20-6, 10-4 GPAC)
G – Shane Graves: 9.3 ppg, 4.4 apg, 2.4 rpg, 1.0 spg, .471 fg%
G – Erich Erdman: 18.9 ppg, 2.9 apg, 2.5 rpg, .485 fg%, .413 3-pt fg%
G – Jay Wolfe: 10.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.1 spg, .514 fg%, .462 fg%
G – Bryan Forbes: 17.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.8 spg, .430 fg%, .365 3-pt fg%
F – Jordan Eisma: 7.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg, .649 fg%

Dakota Wesleyan (21-6, 12-3 GPAC)
G – Tate Martin: 13.9 ppg, 9.0 apg, 2.6 rpg, .490 fg%, .406 3-pt fg%
G – Trae Vandeberg: 16.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg, .481 fg%, .415 3-pt fg%
G – Ty Hoglund: 17.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.2 spg, .545 fg%, .382 3-pt fg%
G – Nate Davis: 8.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.7 apg, .472 fg%, .387 3-pt fg%
F – Jason Spicer: 21.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.0 bpg, .651 fg%

Concordia avenges early-season loss, blows out Doane

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball team avenged its early-season loss at Doane – and then some on Wednesday evening. The red hot Bulldogs operated masterfully offensively, shot 52.9 percent from the floor and sent the visiting Tigers home with a lopsided defeat by a final of 98-71.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has won a season high six games in a row and has improved to 18-8 overall and to 7-7 in conference play.

“Once again, I love our seniors,” Limback said. “I feel like they got everybody ready and set the tone. Chandler (Folkerts) was just a dominant force in the first half. Both him and Justin (Damme) were great inside. I thought our defense really did some nice things. They run a lot of ball screens and I thought we executed well for the most part. I’m just proud of the guys again.”

Concordia did not really need the services of Folkerts in the second half. The Chanimal put up a game’s worth of offensive production in the first half alone, during which he made all nine shots from the field and all three free throws while piling up 21 points. Sharpshooting guard Eli Ziegler (17 points) took it from there, coming out of the break with a flurry that allowed the starters to have an early exit. The Bulldogs already owned a 30-point advantage with more than 12 minutes remaining in the game.

Ziegler dropped in 5-of-7 attempts from beyond the arc while continuing his climb up the program’s single-season list for most 3-point field goals. His 82 treys rank in a tie with Limback for No. 7 in school history. With less than a handful of regular-season games left in his career, Ziegler is feeling the urgency.

“There’s a lot of urgency,” Ziegler said. “We want to do the best we can and we want to set a good foundation for these younger guys, too.”

The reserves spelled the starters for much of the second half and hardly missed a beat offensively. Damme (11) and freshman Clay Reimers (10) both reached double figures. Zach Friel also tallied nine points and four rebounds in his 10 minutes of action. Among starters, freshman Tanner Shuck (11) joined Folkerts and Ziegler in double digits in scoring.

Concordia entered the night wanting to avenge its 80-77 loss at Doane (12-15, 3-12 GPAC) on Nov. 22. The latest meeting between the two rivals was no contest.

“That was definitely a big motivator for us,” Ziegler said. “We talked about before the game how crucial this win was for the GPAC standings and for everything, really. We had to come back from last time we lost to them. All 15 guys were ready to go.”

Not only did the Bulldogs outshoot the Tigers (52.9 percent to 41.4) considerably, they also manhandled them on the boards, 48-28. Both teams committed just nine turnovers.

The Bulldogs have moved up to sixth place in the conference and have clinched a spot in the eight-team GPAC tournament that will begin on Feb. 22. Concordia is now 11-2 over its last 13 games.

The Bulldogs will put their win streak to the test this weekend with a pair of road games against nationally-ranked foes. Up first is Saturday’s journey to Sioux City, Iowa, where they will challenge No. 18 Briar Cliff (21-6, 11-4 GPAC) at 4 p.m. CT. The following day, Concordia will venture to the Corn Palace for a 4 p.m. tipoff at No. 7 Dakota Wesleyan (21-7, 12-4 GPAC). The Bulldogs defeated both teams at home earlier this season.

Folkerts named CoSIDA Academic All-District for third time

CoSIDA Academic All-District™ selections

SEWARD, Neb. – Postseason honors figure to come pouring in for senior Chandler Folkerts. The standout post has collected Academic All-District™ recognition from the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) for the third-straight year, as announced on Thursday (Feb. 9). Folkerts is again in the running for CoSIDA Academic All-America® recognition. He was named an Academic All-American as both a sophomore and junior.

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.

The Academic All-District 3 award is just the latest in a long string of honors for Folkerts. This past September, the NAIA announced Folkerts as the winner of the 2016 Emil S. Liston Scholarship Award. The Emil S. Liston award recognizes academic and athletic excellence by junior student-athletes in men’s and women’s basketball.

A native of Milford, Neb., Folkerts carries a cumulative 4.0 GPA while majoring in mathematics and physics. Named a 2015-16 NAIA honorable mention All-American, Folkerts has garnered first team all-GPAC accolades in each of the past two seasons and has also been tabbed to the NAIA All-Nebraska team by the Omaha World-Herald three times. The NAIA Scholar-Athlete took home MVP honors at the 2016 and 2017 Concordia Invitational Tournaments. Folkerts has served as a YMCA youth basketball coach, a volunteer at the Lincoln City Mission Food Pantry and is a leader within his church.

On the Concordia men’s basketball program’s all-time lists, Folkerts ranks second in rebounds (820), fourth in scoring (1,878) and fourth in blocked shots (135). As a senior, The Chanimal is averaging 18.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks while shooting 69.0 percent from the floor and 77.6 percent from the free throw line.

District 3 of the College Division covers institutions in the states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. 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. Those teams will be announced on Feb. 22.

2016-17 academic all-district honorees
(*Academic All-American)
Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
Le’Dontrae Gooden, Football
*Hallick Lehmann, Football

2015-16 academic all-district honorees
(*Academic All-American)
*Amy Ahlers, Golf
*Stephanie Coley, Track & Field
*Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
*Hallick Lehmann, Football
Adam Meirose, Football
Becky Mueller, Basketball
*CJ Muller, Track & Field
*Kim Wood, Cross Country/Track & Field 

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

Concordia falls at No. 18 Briar Cliff despite Reimers double-double

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Freshman Clay Reimers put forth a superstar effort in another GPAC pulse pounder for the Concordia University men’s basketball team. Still alive for another conference regular-season title, host and 18th-ranked Briar Cliff made the plays in crunch time and dealt the Bulldogs an 83-74 defeat on Saturday afternoon.

The loss snapped a six-game win streak for fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad, which dropped to 18-9 overall and to 7-8 in conference play.

“I’m proud of our guys for the intensity and the effort,” Limback said. “Both teams were playing hard and I thought they executed better than we did. We had too many mistakes offensively. It was a well fought game between two good teams.”

Reimers is coming of age. He posted a double-double, going for career high of 22 points and 10 rebounds. He even showed the confidence to rise up and bury a trey in the final minute-and-a-half when his team badly needed a bucket. At that point, Concordia trailed, 76-72.

However, the Bulldogs missed their final four shot attempts of the game and Briar Cliff (22-6, 12-4 GPAC) salted the game away by making 7-of-8 free threw shots down the stretch. Concordia had been unable to keep up with a Charger team that shot 61.5 percent (16-for-26) from the floor in the second half and has now won 14 of its last 16 games.

Briar Cliff, led by 17 points off the bench from Erich Erdman, had come off a 106-80 blowout win over Dakota Wesleyan. This one was a nailbiter. The Bulldogs trailed 67-57 with under five minutes to play, but showed their mettle by going on a 10-1 run that got them within one point (68-67). That spurt was capped by Eli Ziegler’s trey from the left wing. The Chargers answered with a three-point play from Shane Graves and Bryan Forbes later nailed a difficult corner triple moments later to help ward off Concordia.

All in all, it was a solid road effort from the Bulldogs. With Reimers blossoming, Concordia is a dangerous team. The Lincoln native is averaging 15.5 points over the past four games.

“I thought he did some good things defensively that maybe went unnoticed,” Limback said of Reimers. “They had a lot of momentum and Clay comes down and hits a big three. That’s something that he needed to do in that situation.”

Chandler Folkerts just missed a double-double, registering 13 points and nine rebounds. Ziegler amassed 18 points while making 3-of-7 shots from long range. The biggest negative was a minus-12 turnover margin (21-9) for Concordia, which shot a sizzling 54.3 percent (25-for-46) from the field.

Hot second half shooting lifted Briar Cliff to 50.8 percent shooting for the contest. Erdman was joined in double figures by teammates Graves (16), Forbes (15) and Blake Wiltgen (12). They powered the Chargers to victory on senior day in Sioux City.

The weekend grind continues on Sunday when the Bulldogs venture to the Corn Palace to challenge seventh-ranked Dakota Wesleyan (21-7, 12-4 GPAC) in a makeup contest. Concordia will attempt to pull off a season sweep of the Tigers. This season’s first meeting went in favor of the Bulldogs, 95-79, inside Walz Arena on Dec. 3.

Folkerts goes for 37; Concordia upsets No. 7 DWU in OT

MITCHELL, S.D. – Concordia University men’s basketball isn’t for the faint of heart. Twenty-four hours after dropping a wire-to-wire battle at 18th-ranked Briar Cliff, the Bulldogs celebrated a 109-106 overtime upset at No. 7 Dakota Wesleyan. It wouldn’t be wrong to call it The Chandler Folkerts Game. The Chanimal went off for a career high 37 points in a signature performance on Sunday afternoon in Mitchell, S.D.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad has made an impressive late-season run, winning seven of its last eight games. Concordia now sits at 19-9 overall and at 8-8 in conference play.

“There were so many toughness plays,” Limback said. “It felt like they had all the momentum heading into overtime. I mean, Chandler Folkerts was huge, huge tonight. I can’t say enough about him at both ends. Seth (Curran) hit some really big free throws and did some nice things offensively.

“To bounce back after last night and do this in overtime shows just how much these guys want it right now. We just have to keep it going.”

This was a gut-check victory. The Bulldogs relinquished a late 10-point lead and watched Tate Martin force the extra session with a game-tying trey in the final seconds of regulation. Concordia even faced a four-point overtime deficit and then trailed 106-105 with less than 10 seconds remaining. Eli Ziegler attacked with the game-winning layup and the Bulldogs got a steal on the other end.

Leading by three points with :1.7 left in overtime, Concordia still had to survive one last Dakota Wesleyan possession, but the Tigers failed to get a shot off. The Bulldogs could finally exhale with their fifth win over a ranked opponent (second over Dakota Wesleyan) in the books.

“Seeing our seniors step up and make plays down the stretch should give us the confidence that we can go anywhere in this league and win,” Limback said. “Gut it out, whatever it takes. I feel like the seniors are really willing us right now and providing that hunger our team needs.”

The Chanimal fed his appetite by feasting in the paint. He made 16-of-23 shots from the floor on the day and snared 14 rebounds to go along with two blocks in 36 minutes of action. Dakota Wesleyan was helpless to defend him in the second half, during which he totaled 21 points.

Folkerts has scored 1,928 points in his career that has included many memorable performances. This one will be remembered for a long time.

“He’s had perfect games where he’s pretty much scored every time he’s touched it. He’s done a lot of things in his career,” Limback said. “But it would be hard to find a game that has been this good. To do this after playing that many minutes against Briar Cliff is impressive. I can’t say enough about what he did tonight.”

Folkerts and the other seniors were big time from an offensive standpoint. Eli Ziegler racked up 25 points while making 5-of-9 shots from 3-point range. Curran was clutch from the line, making 8-of-9 free throws on his way to 17 points. He also dished out six assists. The future of the program looks promising with the continued rise of Clay Reimers, who added 16 points and six rebounds and had a crucial game-tying basket in overtime.

Concordia shot 57.7 percent (41-for-71) from the field and still narrowly won due in large part to the incredible game produced by Tiger point guard Tate Martin. He made 14-of-21 shots from the field, piled up a career high 35 points and dropped 12 dimes. Additionally, Jason Spicer had 29 points and nine rebounds, Trae Vandeberg posted 17 points and Ty Hoglund recorded 16 points in the shootout.

The Bulldogs will play on the road for the third-straight time when they travel to play Hastings (14-14, 8-8 GPAC) on Wednesday. Tipoff from Lynn Ferrell Arena is set for 8 p.m. CT. In this season’s first matchup between the two sides, Concordia fended off a late push by the Broncos and won, 78-76, inside Walz Arena on Jan. 25.

Concordia set to wrap up regular season, honor four seniors

SEWARD, Neb. – Barring unforeseen happenings in the GPAC tournament, the Concordia University men’s basketball team’s four seniors will play at Walz Arena for the final time this Saturday in the regular-season finale. Prior to the weekend, the Bulldogs will trek west on I-80 for an 8 p.m. CT tipoff at Hastings (14-14, 8-8 GPAC) on Wednesday. Dordt (13-15, 4-12 GPAC) will serve as Saturday’s opponent for a contest slated for 4 p.m.

Both of this week’s contests will be carried live on 104.9 Max Country radio (play-by-play by Tyler Cavalli). Wednesday’s game can be seen via the Hastings Stretch Internet portal. The Concordia Sports Network will stream Saturday’s tilt.

Riding its high-powered offense, Concordia has won seven of eight games. The most meaningful victory during that stretch was Sunday’s 109-106 overtime upset at No. 7 Dakota Wesleyan. In an all-timer of a performance, senior Chandler Folkerts totaled a career high 37 points to go along with 14 rebounds and two blocked shots. As a team, the Bulldogs shot 57.7 percent from the floor in another masterful offensive performance.

Efficiency on the offensive end has made Concordia capable of competing with anyone in the nation. Among all NAIA Division II teams, the Bulldogs rank No. 1 in field goal percentage (.526), second in 3-point field goal percentage (.415) and seventh in free throw percentage (.769). Individually, Folkerts checks in at No. 2 in the nation in field goal percentage (.683) and freshman Tanner Shuck ranks 26th in NAIA Division II in 3-point percentage (.457).

The collegiate career is winding down for Folkerts, who will go down as one of the greatest players in program history. With 1,928 career points, Folkerts still has a shot to reach 2,000 and to become the third leading scorer in school history. He also sports all-time school ranks of second in rebounds (843) and fourth in blocked shots (138). Fellow senior Eli Ziegler is also on the rise, ranking 21st all-time in scoring (1,155). He needs four more to pass head coach Ben Limback on the list.

Folkerts, Ziegler and the senior class that also includes Seth Curran and Justin Damme have helped the Bulldogs to three-straight winning seasons, raising the profile of a program that had gone 6-22 in 2012-13. The 19 wins by this year’s squad are the most for the program since the 2008-09 team went 20-12 in 2008-09.

Hastings has experienced an up-and-down season. It surprised then No. 11 Midland by an 88-72 score on Feb. 1 before a loss at Morningside and a narrow win at Mount Marty as part of last week’s action. Guard Rich Williams tops the team with a scoring average of 15.5. Meanwhile, Dordt comes into the week having lost five of six games – four against ranked opponents. Concordia is looking for season sweeps of both opponents.

Projected lineups

Concordia: 19-9, 8-8 GPAC (T-6th)
G – Seth Curran: 8.0 ppg, 4.0 apg, 3.5 rpg, 1.0 spg, .438 fg%
G – Eli Ziegler: 16.9 ppg, 3.8 apg, 2.9 rpg, .490 fg%, .448 3-pt fg%
G – Chris Johnstone: 10.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, .467 fg%, .378 3-pt fg%
F – Tanner Shuck: 9.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.1 apg, .481 fg%, .457 3-pt fg%
C – Chandler Folkerts: 19.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 1.0 spg, .683 fg%

Hastings: 14-14, 8-8 GPAC (T-6th)
G – Trey Moore: 15.0 ppg, 5.9 apg, 3.9 rpg, .401 fg%, .366 3-pt fg%
G – Rich Williams: 15.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.1 spg, .486 fg%, .455 3-pt fg%
G – Jake Hansen: 14.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.1 spg, .505 fg%, .414 3-pt fg%
F – Bart Hiscock: 11.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.2 spg, .485 fg%, .365 3-pt fg%
C – Kevin Harkins: 6.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, .561 fg%

Dordt: 13-15, 4-12 GPAC (8th)
G – Andrew O’Donnell: 9.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.3 apg, .465 fg%, .343 3-pt fg%
G – Alec Henrickson: 16.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.5 apg, .408 fg%, .418 3-pt fg%
G – Alex Terpstra: 9.5 ppg, 2.0 rpg, .402 fg%, .378 3-pt fg%
G – Marcus Winterfeld: 11.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, .504 fg%, .439 3-pt fg%
F – Taylor Feenstra: 8.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, .517 fg%

Shuck, freshmen star in thumping at Hastings

HASTINGS, Neb. – Both the present and the future look bright for the Concordia University men’s basketball team. Tanner Shuck paced a budding freshman class, Chandler Folkerts recorded another double-double and the Bulldogs pulverized host Hastings, 90-69, inside Lynn Farrell Arena on Wednesday night.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s offensively potent outfit moved to 20-9 overall and to 9-8 in conference play. This marks the program’s first 20-win season since the 2008-09 campaign.

“Defensively I thought we really played hard,” Limback said. “Our guys were ready and executed the game plan very well. That’s really what we hung our hats on. Even though we scored 90, a lot of it was defense. Defensively we did a good job on them.”

Concordia got it done with more than just offense on this evening. It shot 60.9 percent from the floor while also holding the Broncos (14-15, 8-9 GPAC) to 39.7 percent shooting in a contest it essentially dominated from start to finish. Shuck (21 points) burned Hastings by draining 5-of-6 shots from the perimeter. Fellow rookies Jake Hornick (13 points, seven rebounds) and Clay Reimers (eight points, seven rebounds) also showed up big.

The shots were falling for Shuck, who was playing near his hometown of Grand Island. Shuck is one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in the nation.

“We’re really getting after it on the defensive end,” Shuck said. “That’s really what changed. We struggled a little bit, but then we started a streak. We started playing defense and figured it out. Right now we’re just playing with a lot of confidence. It’s a lot of fun right now.”

Reimers has been one of the ringleaders behind Concordia’s late season run. The Lincoln East High School product isn’t shy about rattling the rim. He threw down two dunks while continuing his run of beastly play in the paint. One of those throwdowns came after his own steal. Reimers and Folkerts are a handful in the post. Folkerts (10 points, 11 rebounds) made 5-of-6 shots from the floor and helped Concordia own the boards, 35-24.

The Bulldogs left Hastings in the dust with a 25-8 second half run that turned a nine-point lead into a rout. Just about everyone got into the act for Concordia, which placed four starters into double figures. Seth Curran dropped in 14 points on the strength of 11-for-14 foul shooting. Backcourt mate Eli Ziegler knocked in 10 points, pushing him past Limback for 20th on the program’s all-time scoring list.

Hastings got very little production outside of Trey Moore (24 points) and Rich Williams (20 points). The rest of the team was a combined 9-for-32 from the field.

That won’t cut it against a Bulldog team lighting it up on the offensive end.

“I thought we shared it well. We made those extra passes,” Limback said. “Jake Hornick gave us some really good minutes on both ends. Clay had a good second half. It’s a good balance right now. Guys are stepping up in a lot of areas. It’s fun to see down the stretch.”

Concordia’s only loss over the last three weeks was a barn burner at No. 18 Briar Cliff this past weekend. The streaking Bulldogs sit in sixth place in the league standings. They can still tie for fifth place, but will be the No. 6 seed at the GPAC tournament that begins next week.

The Bulldogs will wrap up the regular season on Saturday when they welcome Dordt (14-15, 5-12 GPAC) to Seward for a 4 p.m. CT tipoff inside Walz Arena. Folkerts and the class of seniors will be honored as part of Senior Day festivities. The seniors have helped the program improve its record each of the past four seasons.

Folkerts defined by high achievement in all aspects

Nobody’s perfect, but Chandler Folkerts sometimes challenges that notion. He once got an A-minus just to see what it felt like. When rounded up, his GPA is still a spotless 4.0. On the court, Folkerts has produced seven career games in which he’s attempted at least five shots and made every single one of them.

Says head coach Ben Limback, “He’s lived up to everything you could ask for in a player and as a person. He’s just one of the best guys I’ve ever coached.”

In the history of Concordia men’s basketball, there’s never been anyone quite like Folkerts. He’s the prototype for what the model student-athlete at Concordia should look like. He’s an All-American boy in every sense of the meaning. He demands a spotlight because of his excellence, but certainly not because he ever seeks out attention.

There’s humble and then there’s the 6-foot-8 Folkerts, who says, “I’m just following in the footsteps of the people that I looked up to. It’s pretty awesome.” Since he’ll never say it, we’ll go ahead. Chandler Folkerts will go down as not just one of the top players in the history of Concordia hoops, but as one of the top all-around people.

The Chanimal is born

The nickname can escape him no longer. Sorry Chandler, it’s too deeply ingrained. Even KLKN-TV (Lincoln) sports director Brett Edwards regularly makes references to “The Chanimal” during highlight packages of Concordia games on the ABC affiliate’s nightly news broadcasts. Edwards also frequently refers to Chandler as a former Runza student-athlete of the month and Milford native.

Chandler simply takes the nickname in stride. “I just don’t really react to it,” he said while laughing. “It doesn’t really matter to me. I get a kick out of it when people use it.” Smiling, Limback says, “I try to just call him Chandler.”

Chandler has former teammate Robby Thomas to thank for coining The Chanimal. The moniker was perfectly appropriate when Thomas first uttered it after Chandler burned Northwestern for 34 points and 14 rebounds in an 87-81 Concordia win in Orange City, Iowa, on Jan. 9, 2016. The name has stuck because it fits.

He’s a good sport about it. At a pep rally the week of CIT, “The Chanimal jersey chase” was one of the featured events. In this particular contest, two female students had to slip on Chandler’s basketball shoes, shorts and jersey and then make a layup. Whichever person could complete these tasks first, won. But let’s be honest, both participants were winners. Both received a hug from The Chanimal, who waited underneath the basket. Swoon.

The basket is where he lives, at least on many Wednesday nights and Saturday afternoons. Part Chandler, part animal, The Chanimal has made big games a habit. You don’t have to go back very far for perhaps the greatest performance of his career. He one-upped his Orange City effort from a year earlier by totaling a career high 37 points and snaring 14 more boards on Sunday at the Corn Palace.

What he most liked about the game? His team won – and it was a big one. A 109-106 upset at No. 7 Dakota Wesleyan. “I knew I was scoring, but I wasn’t thinking about that,” Chandler said. “They were chipping away at our lead and I was worried about that. That was intense.”

Even as a baby-faced freshman who carried a few more pounds than he does now, Chandler showed flashes of The Chanimal that was yet to come. He averaged 11.2 points and 4.7 rebounds as a rookie. Then he took off as a sophomore, became a first team all-conference player and quickly established himself as one of the top post players in the GPAC. But even that might be selling Chandler short. Teammate Eli Ziegler has his opinion. He calls Chandler the best post player in the nation.

It’s hard to argue. Chandler is incredibly and deadly accurate around the rim, even with teams focused on containing him. His shooting percentage of 68.3 hardly sounds possible. But then again, this is The Chanimal we’re talking about.

Star upbringing

There’s an abundance of brains and brawn within Chandler’s family. Chandler himself was the class salutatorian at Milford High School. His brother Paxton was valedictorian at Milford the year before. His father Paul was valedictorian at Davenport High School. His mother Angela Muller was salutatorian at Madison High School. We’re sensing a theme.

“That was always the thing with looking at playing college sports,” Chandler said. “You’re looking at an education, too. It was always the top priority. It was just an expectation. I never asked why. I just knew I had to do my best.”

And how about the brawns? His father Paul stands at 6-foot-3 (outgrown considerably by both sons) and has played an influential role in the sporting careers of Chandler and Paxton. His mother Angela, not just the Associate AD at Concordia, could flat out score during her time at Morningside College. In other words, Chandler had the right bloodlines.

It became evident throughout his prep career at Milford that Chandler had the physicality, the talent and the smarts to be a collegiate student-athlete. He even had the advantage of having his step dad, Tony Muller, as his high school basketball coach. Chandler could always come home and talk basketball with Tony, a well-respected coach and math teacher in Milford.

Those Milford High days will be remembered by Chandler as some of his fondest. As a junior, Chandler teamed up with Paxton, a senior, on a physically imposing frontcourt, especially for a Nebraska Class C1 high school. The Folkerts spurred the Eagles to a 13-0 start and a state tournament appearance – and they had a blast doing it.

“That was fun. That was really, really fun,” Chandler says. “That’s one of the biggest things I miss about sports is playing with him. We knew what each other was going to do, especially in basketball. We were a pretty good tag team. Your older brother never lets you take it easy. He was always pretty livid if I was slacking off.”

Paxton admits it would have been fun to continue that brotherly tandem beyond high school. He first ended up at Concordia as a member of the football team, but transferred to the University of Nebraska and is now farming just like his dad Paul, who owns vast fields of land in Carleton, Nebraska.

The farm life has long been something both Chandler and Paxton have enjoyed. Chandler is in the process of lining up a place to go to graduate school for agricultural engineering. Says Chandler, “The dream idea would be to help build farm equipment for a company and help my dad and brother farm.”

The hard work it takes to be successful in farming has trickled down to all aspects of Chandler’s life. Says Chandler, “Growing up I had the best of both worlds. My dad’s on the farm and my mom’s close to Lincoln in a bigger town. Whenever I was at my dad’s you learn something about rural life and you learn a lot of work ethic on a farm, too. My dad always instilled that in me. It was just part of life growing up.”

Limback saw how those values had been ingrained in Chandler right from their first meeting. The recruitment of Chandler had already begun before Limback had been hired in March of 2013. Once on board, Limback made it a priority to land Chandler, an obvious big fish.

It all started at the Pizza Kitchen in Milford. “Everybody around here said he was a big guy who would be a great fit,” Limback recalls. “I saw some film on him and I thought, ‘Oh yeah, this kid can play.’ I remember meeting with him at Pizza Kitchen, having the chicken buffet. It was a wonderful conversation. I already felt like this was a guy we wanted. After that I knew he was more than just a basketball player.”

‘More than just a basketball player’ is the perfect way to describe Chandler, who shows care and respect for everyone, young, old or anywhere in between. One particular instance stands out for President Brian Friedrich. Says Friedrich, “He is the young man every parent wants as a son. One of (my wife) Laurie’s and my favorite memories of Chandler is the evening he arrived at our home 40 minutes early for a team dinner. He sat in our kitchen as we put the finishing touches on the meal and visited with us as if we were lifelong friends. Chandler has amazing parents who have shaped him, encouraged his Christian faith and taught him what is really important in life.”

An all-timer

Devin Smith has been around the Concordia men’s basketball program for close to three decades as a player, assistant coach and now as Director of Athletics. He calls Chandler Folkerts his favorite men’s basketball player of all-time. Much of that sentiment has to do with the way Chandler carries himself in his faith and in his conduct on and off the court. In between head coaches, Smith got the ball rolling in the recruitment of Chandler.

1,938 points, 854 rebounds and 141 blocked shots later, it’s safe to call Chandler an impact player, the kind you might be fortunate to have come around once in a generation. He has the attitude, the character and the work ethic to match his athleticism.

“He is a once-in-a-lifetime student-athlete who has had tremendous impact on the Bulldog basketball program,” Friedrich said. “However, he is cherished and will be remembered, as much if not more, for the person he is rather than for the points he scored, rebounds he grabbed and shots he blocked.”

On the Concordia men’s basketball all-time lists, Folkerts ranks second in rebounding and fourth in both scoring and blocked shots. His performances on the court and in the classroom have led to a treasure trove of accolades, including the prestigious NAIA Emil S. Liston Award. He’s also been named CoSIDA Academic All-America, Omaha World-Herald All-Nebraska and a national player of the week in addition to his two first team all-conference honors.

Considering Chandler’s humility, those awards are probably stored somewhere out of sight. They’re certainly out of mind. He spends zero time thinking about all-time scoring totals. There is no ego attached to The Chanimal. He may not be exactly perfect (he did miss seven shots in his 37-point game after all), but he’ll go down as one of the all-time greats to come through Concordia.

Says Limback, “He’s one of the best I’ve ever had. He’s everything you could ask for in a player.”

Concordia continues late season surge with rout of Dordt

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball program is in the midst of its best stretch of play in many, many years. While celebrating senior day, the Bulldogs shot 57.8 percent from the floor and drilled visiting Dordt, 99-71, inside Walz Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad ends the regular season at 21-9 overall and at 10-8 in conference play. The 21 victories are the most for the program since the 2004-05 national runner up team went 32-6 for a school record win total.

“This game meant a lot for a lot of reasons,” Limback said. “The biggest one was for the seniors. Obviously they wanted to end well here at home. All the young guys wanted to play for the seniors. After the first couple minutes, I thought we really turned it up defensively. I thought one through 15 came out and competed their tails off today.”

Fresh off pasting Hastings, 90-70, on the road, Concordia handed Dordt (14-16, 5-13 GPAC) a sound beating. A narrow 29-27 lead in the first half became a commanding 59-29 advantage thanks to a 30-2 game-defining run. That outburst essentially made the second half a scrimmage. Nearing the No. 3 spot on the program’s all-time scoring list, Chandler Folkerts totaled 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting before watching the reserves mop up the latter 20 minutes.

Everyone clicked in this contest. Senior Eli Ziegler piled up 14 points and six assists. Clay Reimers totaled 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting. Tanner Shuck nailed 3-of-5 shots from 3-point range and finished with 11 points. Jake Hornick was a perfect 4-for-4 and tallied 10 points. Kyle Pierce chipped in 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting. Making a start in the post, senior Justin Damme racked up nine points.

All four seniors started in a game that was a blast for the home team. Afterwards, teammates clowned in the back of Ziegler’s postgame interview. Damme gave him a bear hug.

“They’re awesome,” Ziegler said of his fellow seniors. “I’m roommates with two of them – Seth (Curran) and Chandler. I’ve learned so much from them. I’ll be friends with them for the rest of my life for sure. Justin’s awesome. He’s the nicest kid. I wouldn’t want to be going to battle with anyone other than these guys.”

Taylor Feenstra had a fine night on the opposing side. He put home 19 points on 8-for-9 shooting. Sean Broker added 12 points off the bench. Dordt shot 46.2 percent (30-for-65) from the field, but a stretch of nine minutes with just two points doomed it. The Defenders fell behind by as many as 40 points. They ended the game on a 12-0 run and still lost by a 28-point margin.

Concordia will enter the postseason having won nine of its last 10 games. The lone loss during that stretch came at the hand of GPAC regular-season champion Briar Cliff. Included in the 10-game run was a 109-106 overtime upset at No. 7 Dakota Wesleyan.

“We have guys that want to get better every day,” Limback said. “There’s an amazing buy in right now with our team. I think guys are in it for the right reasons. I don’t think there’s anybody that’s thinking, ‘How can I get my own?’ It’s just a team buy in right now.”

The Bulldogs hope to continue their run of impressive play into the GPAC tournament, which will get started on Wednesday. As the No. 6 seed, Concordia will travel to play third-seeded Dakota Wesleyan (22-8, 13-5 GPAC) at 8 p.m. CT in the quarterfinal round. The winner will advance to play in the semifinals next Saturday. The Bulldogs swept the regular-season series with the Tigers.

Back to the Palace

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University men’s basketball program got a monkey off its back on Feb. 12 when it defeated Dakota Wesleyan on the road for the first time in more than five years. Now the Bulldogs will attempt to duplicate that result and avoid the fate suffered by the 2014-15 and 2015-16 teams that saw their seasons end in Mitchell, S.D.

Wednesday’s GPAC tournament quarterfinal between sixth-seeded Concordia (21-9, 10-8 GPAC) and third-seeded Dakota Wesleyan (22-8, 13-5 GPAC) will tip off at 8 p.m. CT in Mitchell. The game can be seen live via Dakota Wesleyan’s Stretch Internet portal.

“Our guys are ready with all the work we’ve been putting in,” said head coach Ben Limback after his team wrapped up the regular season with a 99-71 win over Dordt. “We go against a great team again in Dakota Wesleyan. The last time we faced them it was a great game. That’s what we’re hoping for again on Wednesday.”

Winner of more than 20 games in a season for the first time since 2004-05, the Bulldogs hope to end another drought by simply advancing in the league tournament. They last won a conference postseason game in 2009 when they made a run to the championship game, which resulted in a Dakota Wesleyan 83-64 win.

Winning at the Palace, where the Tigers are 12-2 this season, is never easy, but Limback has his team peaking at the right time. Its only loss over the last 10 games was a wire-to-wire defeat at Briar Cliff, the GPAC regular-season champion. After the 109-106 heart stopper of an overtime win at Dakota Wesleyan, Concordia thrashed Hastings, 90-69, and Dordt, 99-71.

Behind one of the nation’s most efficient offensive attacks, the Bulldogs are riding high in the conference tournament.

“We’ve been playing pretty well lately,” said senior guard Eli Ziegler. “It’s fun to play with all these guys. It’s coming down to the wire, but I’m hoping we have a lot of games left.”

Concordia needs at least one win and possibly more to get itself into the conversation for a national tournament at-large bid. The GPAC tournament champion will earn an automatic bid to nationals. Should that happen to be Briar Cliff, then the runner up would receive the conference’s second automatic berth. The Bulldogs continue to seek their first national tournament appearance since they reached the national title game in 2005.

Concordia enters the postseason ranked No. 1 nationally in field goal percentage (.530). It also sports national rankings of second in 3-point field goal percentage (.418), sixth in free throw percentage (.774), 13th in 3-point field goals per game (9.9) and 17th in scoring offense (88.7). Individually, Chandler Folkerts is second among all NAIA Division II players in field goal percentage (.686). Tanner Shuck ranks 11th nationally in 3-point percentage (.477).

On the program’s all-time lists, Folkerts currently ranks second in rebounds (858), fourth in scoring (1,949) and fourth in blocked shots (142). He needs seven points to pass John Puelz (1,955) for third place on the scoring list. Folkerts had a career high 37 points in the overtime win over Dakota Wesleyan. Ziegler is up to No. 19 in school history with 1,179 career points.

Freshman Clay Reimers could one day join Folkerts and Ziegler in the 1,000-point club. Over the last seven games, Reimers has averaged 14.1 points and 6.4 rebounds. During that same stretch, the Lincoln East High School product has gone 38-for-50 (.760) from the floor. His surge has elevated his season averages to 7.1 points and 4.1 rebounds. He has seen action in all 30 games.

On the flip side, Dakota Wesleyan ended a three-game losing streak with an 83-77 home win over 20th-ranked Northwestern in its Feb. 15 regular-season finale. The Tigers will have had a week off when the game tips off on Wednesday. Dakota Wesleyan also has a high-octane offense that averages 91.5 points (No. 5 in the nation). Though he ranks fourth on the team in scoring (14.5), Tate Martin is the team’s catalyst. He dishes out an average of 9.0 assists per game.

The winner of Wednesday’s game will advance to play in the conference semifinals on Saturday against either second-seeded Northwestern (23-6, 13-5 GPAC) or seventh-seeded Hastings (14-16, 8-10 GPAC).

Projected starters

Concordia: 21-9, 10-8 GPAC
G – Seth Curran: 8.0 ppg, 4.0 apg, 3.6 rpg, 1.0 spg, .437 fg%, .359 3-pt fg%
G – Eli Ziegler: 16.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.0 spg, .491 fg%, .444 3-pt fg%, .795 ft%
G – Chris Johnstone: 9.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.9 apg, .468 fg%, .382 3-pt fg%
F – Tanner Shuck: 10.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, .495 fg%, .477 3-pt fg%
C – Chandler Folkerts: 18.4 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 0.9 spg, .686 fg%, .776 ft%

Dakota Wesleyan: 22-8, 13-5 GPAC
G – Tate Martin: 14.5 ppg, 9.0 apg, 2.5 rpg, .483 fg%, .391 3-pt fg%
G – Trae Vandeberg: 15.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, .478 fg%, .406 3-pt fg%
G – Ty Hoglund: 18.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.3 spg, .547 fg%, .399 3-pt fg%
G – Nate Davis: 8.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.6 apg, .469 fg%, .388 3-pt fg%
F – Jason Spicer: 21.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 4.2 apg, 1.0 bpg, .634 fg%

Postseason dream halted in Mitchell

MITCHELL, S.D. – The national tournament dream ended in Mitchell, S.D., once again for the Concordia University men’s basketball program. The Bulldogs endeavored to defeat 14th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan for the third time this season, but the host Tigers shot an otherworldly 62.5 percent in the second half and won, 98-90, inside the Corn Palace on Wednesday evening.

Concordia had hoped to get out of the GPAC quarterfinals for the first time since 2009. Instead, fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad ended the season with an overall record of 21-10. The 21 victories are the most for the program since the 2004-05 national runner-up team went 32-6.

“It was a tough second half. Obviously we were wanting a different result,” Limback said. “I told our guys that we were playing great basketball the last two or three weeks. That’s where you want to be. Certainly the seniors were a huge part of that. I’m just proud of them. I told them how far they’ve helped take the program. I feel like we’re competing at a national level.”

Even with bigs Chandler Folkerts and Justin Damme in foul trouble, the Bulldogs took a 47-43 lead to the half. Then Dakota Wesleyan (24-6) got crazy hot. Frontrunner for conference freshman of the year honors, Ty Hoglund went off. He netted 21 of his game high 37 points in the second half while playing all 40 minutes. The Tigers took the lead, 52-51, with 17:37 left and never looked back.

It turned into exactly the type of shootout one would expect when these two sides get together. Concordia was pretty solid in its own right from an offensive perspective. The Bulldogs shot 48.5 percent (33-for-68) overall and got double figures from four different players. Competing in his final game, Folkerts, one of the program’s all-time greats, posted 14 points and 10 rebounds. He eventually fouled out late in the game.

Concordia found itself in a 12-point hole with 12:28 remaining and then cut the deficit down to five (69-64) midway through the second half. Just a couple minutes later the lead was back up to double digits after Trae Vandeberg drilled a trey. There was just too much firepower for the Tigers, who ended up at 57.1 percent from the field and 52.6 percent (10-for-19) from 3-point range.

Also playing for the final time in a Concordia uniform, Eli Ziegler topped the Bulldogs with 15 points. Freshman Jake Hornick rattled in 14 points and grabbed six rebounds off the bench. Freshman Tanner Shuck had the hot hand early on and finished with 12 points. Other seniors who ended their careers were Seth Curran (nine points, six assists) and Damme (six points, three rebounds).

“I really believe they helped establish a very strong culture,” Limback said of the four seniors. “It’s a team buy in. I think everybody on the team cares more about the team than they do themselves. I think that’s something the seniors helped develop here in their four years. They brought their work ethic every day in practice.”

Vandeberg had 24 points (10-for-17 shooting) and seven rebounds. Jason Spicer added 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Point guard Tate Martin went for 12 points and seven assists for the victors, who will move on to the semifinals and play at second-seeded Northwestern (24-6) on Saturday.

The Bulldogs now have the 2017-18 season to look forward to. They will go on without Folkerts, who finished with program all-time career ranks of second in rebounds (868), third in scoring (1,963) and fourth in blocked shots (142). Ziegler ranks 19th in school history in scoring (1,194).

The good news is that Limback has a blossoming freshman group including the likes of Hornick, Shuck and Clay Reimers. Those three were instrumental in Concordia winning nine of 10 games before Wednesday’s loss at Dakota Wesleyan.

Folkerts collects CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year accolades

CoSIDA release

SEWARD, Neb. – The postseason honors are just beginning to roll in for Concordia men’s basketball standout Chandler Folkerts. On Monday (Feb. 27), the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced Folkerts as its choice for the men’s Academic All-America® of the Year award. Also a first team selection, Folkerts has been named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America® team for the third year in a row.

Folkerts pulls in the highest honor given out by CoSIDA following second team Academic All-America® honors as a sophomore and first team recognition as a junior. The native of Milford, Neb., is no stranger to awards that factor in both athletic and academic excellence. This past fall the NAIA tabbed Folkerts with the NAIA Emil S. Liston Scholarship Award, which is awarded to one NAIA junior men’s basketball student-athlete.

The two-time first team all-conference performer carries a cumulative GPA of 4.0 while majoring in mathematics and physics. Folkerts garnered NAIA honorable mention All-America accolades last season and has been placed on the NAIA All-Nebraska team by the Omaha World-Herald three times. The NAIA Scholar-Athlete took MVP honors at the 2016 and 2017 CITs. Folkerts has served as a YMCA youth basketball coach, a volunteer at the Lincoln City Mission Food Pantry and is a leader within his church.

On the Bulldog men’s basketball all-time lists, Folkerts ranks second in rebounds (868), third in scoring (1,963) and fourth in blocked shots (142). As a senior, The Chanimal averaged 18.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.39 blocks while ranking second in NAIA Division II with a 68.6 field goal percentage.

2016-17 academic all-district honorees
(*Academic All-American)
*Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
Le’Dontrae Gooden, Football
*Hallick Lehmann, Football 

2015-16 academic all-district honorees
(*Academic All-American)
*Amy Ahlers, Golf
*Stephanie Coley, Track & Field
*Chandler Folkerts, Basketball
*Hallick Lehmann, Football
Adam Meirose, Football
Becky Mueller, Basketball
*CJ Muller, Track & Field
*Kim Wood, Cross Country/Track & Field 

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, Ziegler headline all-conference honorees

Mar. 1, 2017

GPAC release

SEWARD, Neb. – For the first time in 10 years, a Concordia men’s basketball player has been tabbed the GPAC defensive player of the year. That award has been given to senior Chandler Folkerts, who has also been named first team All-GPAC for the third year in a row. Additionally, fellow senior Eli Ziegler collected second team honors, as announced by the GPAC on Wednesday (March 1). Senior Seth Curran rounded out Bulldog honorees with honorable mention status.

Recently chosen as winner of the NAIA Emil S. Liston and CoSIDA Academic All-America of the Year awards, Folkerts will go down as one of the greatest players in the history of the program. The league’s top defensive player finished his career with school all-time ranks of second in rebounding (868), third in scoring (1,963) and fourth in blocked shots (142). As a senior, Folkerts topped the GPAC in rebounding (8.1) and field goal percentage (.686), ranked second in both blocks per game (1.39) and double-doubles (10) and fifth in scoring (18.3). The Milford native’s field goal percentage put him second among all NAIA Division II players. Folkerts has made his case to move up from the NAIA honorable mention All-America award he received as a junior.

Ziegler enjoyed his finest season in 2016-17. As a senior, the native of Littleton, Colo., produced career highs in scoring (16.5), assists (3.9), rebounds (2.8), steals and field goal percentage (.482). Among GPAC players, he ranked second in 3-point field goals made per game (3.2), fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (.439), seventh in both scoring (16.5) and assists and ninth in free throw percentage (.798). Ziegler finished his career with all-time program rankings of 10th in assists (273) and 19th in scoring (1,194). His 98 3-point field goals in 2016-17 rank as the sixth highest single-season total in school history.

Curran assumed the starting point guard role this season and ranked sixth in the GPAC in assists per game (4.1). He also averaged 8.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.0 steal over 31 games as a senior. He shot 43.8 percent from the field and 80.0 percent from the free throw line.

Fourth-year head coach Ben Limback’s squad finished the 2016-17 season with an overall record of 21-10. Its scoring average of 88.7 points per game broke the single-season school record.

Concordia GPAC defensive players of the year
2016-17 – Chandler Folkerts
2006-07 – Jon Ziegler
2004-05 – Jason Jisa
2003-04 – Jason Jisa
*Rick Dietze was named GPAC player of the year in 2003-04

Three senior men's basketball student-athletes honored as Scholar-Athletes

Mar. 13, 2017

SEWARD, Neb. – Three senior members of the Concordia University men’s basketball team have been awarded distinction as 2016-17 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes. The list is headed by two-time Scholar-Athlete and CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year Chandler Folkerts. He is joined with Scholar-Athlete honors by fellow two-time honorees Justin Damme and Eli Ziegler.

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 175 Division II men’s basketball student-athletes across the nation were named 2016 Scholar-Athletes by the NAIA.

Concordia University ranks as the NAIA’s all-time leader in number of Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes with 1,250 and counting (27 for the fall athletics season). The 2015-16 season produced a GPAC best 92 Bulldog scholar-athletes and a national best 20 NAIA Scholar-Teams. 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).

2017 Men’s Basketball Scholar-Athletes
Justin Damme, Sr. | Cook, Neb. | Geography
Chandler Folkerts, Sr. | Milford, Neb. | Mathematics/Physics
Eli Ziegler, Sr. | Littleton, Colo. | Marketing

Folkerts nets second team All-America honors

Mar. 16, 2017

NAIA release

SEWARD, Neb. – The honors keep piling up for senior Chandler Folkerts, a three-time first team All-GPAC award winner. On Thursday (March 16), the NAIA named Folkerts a second team All-American. An honorable mention All-American as a junior in 2015-16, The Chanimal is the Concordia men’s basketball program’s first All-American to be chosen to one of the three teams since Jon Ziegler (third team) in 2006-07.

In reflecting upon his career, Folkerts wrote, “It meant a lot to be able to represent Concordia because there were a lot people before me that I really looked up to that represented this school so well. To be able to walk in their shoes is a true blessing. There were a ton of people involved in my success. My family, teammates, coaches and professors have all been amazing and I can't thank them enough for their support. They pushed me to do my best in everything. The best memories I have from my time here were just being with teammates, whether it was just hanging out or competing with them in practice. I can't say enough about them. I’m so thankful for the time I’ve had with them.”

The list of honors for Folkerts goes on and on. A 4.0 student, the native of Milford, Neb., collected the NAIA Emil Liston award and was tabbed the College Division Academic All-American of the Year by the College Sports Information Directors of America. In addition to first team all-conference accolades, Folkerts picked up the GPAC defensive player of the year honor. A two-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete, Folkerts has also been a regular on the Omaha World-Herald’s All-Nebraska team.

As a senior, Folkerts averaged 18.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.39 blocks. His field goal percentage of 68.6 ranked third best among all NAIA Division II players. One of the top players in program history, Folkerts owns all-time school rankings of second in rebounds (868), third in scoring (1,963) and fourth in blocked shots (142). Folkerts shot 65.3 percent over 121 career games as a Bulldog.

With Folkerts leading the way, Concordia improved its record each season. The 2016-17 Bulldogs went 21-10 overall. The 21 wins were the most for the program since the 2004-05 team went 32-6 and finished as the national runner up.

Season-in-review: Bulldogs continue rise behind prolific offense

Mar. 19, 2017

The 2016-17 Concordia men’s basketball season provided fans their final opportunity to see Chandler Folkerts own the paint inside Walz Arena. Behind Folkerts, the ’16-17 squad broke the program record for highest scoring average in a single season. Its 21 overall wins were the most for the program since the 2004-05 season.

These Bulldogs could flat out shoot it. The interior work of Folkerts coupled with the team’s cache of snipers, including senior marksman Eli Ziegler, made for an exciting brand of ball. If not for a tough-luck 2-5 start to league play, the season’s final destination may have been in Branson, Mo., site of the NAIA Division II national tournament.

“When you’ve got an inside game with Chandler I think that opens up some things,” Limback said. “Then you have to surround him with some good shooters. I thought this team really bought into each other and the idea of sharing the ball and not forcing things. When your best players are also unselfish players, it snowballs.”

Unselfish to the max, Folkerts hogged the spotlight with his game-to-game dominance in the post. Named a second team All-American, Folkerts ended his career with school all-time rankings of second in rebounds (868), third in scoring (1,963) and fourth in blocked shots (142). In perhaps the season’s signature moment, Folkerts piled up 37 points and 14 rebounds in an overtime win on the home floor of then seventh-ranked Dakota Wesleyan.

Eventually, you run out of superlatives for a student-athlete capable of filling up a U-Haul solely with the many accolades he’s collected throughout his collegiate career. He even has the perfect nickname: The Chanimal.

“I don’t think it’s sunk in the type of career he’s had,” Limback said. “He played at a very high level for a number of years. This year I thought he expanded as a leader and you could see that amongst our team. His unselfishness and his work ethic was something he brought every day. I think we’ll look back at him as one of the all-time greats here. There’s also all the off-court stuff, the academics and his character. It was a spectacular career that he had at Concordia.”

Another element that provided hope for a run to the national tournament was the blossoming of Ziegler, who joined Folkerts in the program’s 1,000-point club. Ziegler’s play skyrocketed to new levels. He wasn’t just a shooter anymore. He developed into a player who can break people down off the dribble, attack the rim and also create opportunities for his teammates. Additionally, fellow senior Seth Curran enjoyed his best season while taking over the point guard role.

The Bulldogs really seemed to mesh during their stay in Miami in late December. On the trip, Concordia recorded road wins over Florida Memorial University and St. Thomas University, both nationally-ranked teams. Limback’s squad found a groove, going 14-4 over the season’s final 18 games after starting 7-6.

The team’s fortunes seemed to rise as its group of youngsters learned to fly. Over the last eight games, rookie Clay Reimers averaged 13.4 points and 5.9 rebounds. Against GPAC regular season and postseason champion Briar Cliff, Reimers went off for 22 points and 10 boards. The Lincoln East High School product has a chance to be the next dominant player in Limback’s frontcourt.

“I think Clay is one of those guys we could be talking about for years,” Limback said. “He has so much talent and so many skills. I don’t think he knows yet how good he can be. He really came on at the end. I think he’s going to have to provide us a big contribution next year. I think he’ll be ready for that as he continues to add strength.”

The freshman class also included the likes of Jake Hornick and Tanner Shuck. Hornick was one of the team’s better perimeter defenders and gives the Bulldogs a little bit of everything. Meanwhile, Shuck is a pure shooter. He shot 46.3 percent from long range after taking a year away from basketball. The Grand Island native figures to be a more well-rounded scorer with more development. Also in his first season in Seward, Chaminade University transfer Chris Johnstone started 24 games and added additional firepower.

Offense was very rarely an issue, but it took a more focused defensive approach for Concordia to get its season on track. The outlook got a lot sunnier thanks to the trip to Florida.

“You look at Northwestern, both games, and certainly we had some other ones in there that we wish could have gone the other way,” Limback said. “What we did down in Florida was a big confidence boost for our team. We were on the road back-to-back games and it was a defensive struggle. We didn’t score and shoot as well as we normally have. I think that was one of the first games where we could say that we won because of our defense. Our guys started to see the importance of that end of the floor and carried that over to the rest of the semester.”

Though the team’s all-conference representatives (Folkerts and Ziegler) depart, there are enough pieces already in place for Concordia to be optimistic about the post-Folkerts era. The biggest question mark is likely at the point without the services of Curran. The good news is that Reimers and Shuck are oozing with potential. Limback also believes the 2017-18 newcomers will factor into the mix.

“We lose some really good seniors and some really good leadership,” Limback said. “We have a lot of question marks, but we have a strong group of guys. We don’t want that momentum that we built at the end of the year to end. The culture, the work ethic and the buy in is all very important in the offseason. Guys need to use the summer to continue to build on their skills and be ready to go in the fall. I’ve been very impressed with the hunger they’ve shown.”