Archive for the ‘Feature Stories’ Category

Grace Stuns No. 5 Bethel on the Road

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Pictured is Niko Read driving earlier in the season for the Lancers.

A lockdown defensive effort propelled Grace’s men’s basketball team to a 62-57 upset of archrival No. 5 Bethel on Saturday.

The Lancers improved to 12-4 and 2-2 in the Crossroads League with the win and now sit one game out of first place in the CL standings.

Bethel came into Saturday’s rivalry game averaging 86.3 points per game (14th in NAIA Div. II). The Lancers held the Pilots (14-2, 2-2 CL) to 29 points below their season scoring average. The Pilots were stifled into shooting 35 percent for the game, including a 4-for-22 performance (18 percent) from the 3-point line.

Grace never trailed in the game, although the lead was never greater than 14. Niko Read buried a jumper on the first possession of the game, and Grace eased ahead early 9-4. Caleb Featherston hit two free throws to put Grace up 25-17 with 5:56 remaining in the half. But a late 7-0 spurt from Bethel allowed the Pilots to trail by just 29-26 at the halftime break.

Although Grace struggled with its shooting touch in the first half (31 percent), the Lancers dominated the Pilots on the glass. Grace had nine more rebounds and grabbed 13 offensive boards.

Bethel moved to within one point of Grace’s lead at 33-32 early in the second half, but Grace’s defense was about to take over the game. The Lancers held the Pilots to just four points over an 8:59 stretch midway into the half. Overall Grace outscored Bethel 17-4 during the game-changing run, claiming a 50-36 advantage with eight minutes to play.

The No. 5 Pilots would not go down without a fight in front of their home crowd, however. Bethel eventually trimmed Grace’s lead down to one possession at 55-52 with over two minutes remaining. Logan Irwin made a tough layup on Grace’s next play, but Bethel’s Matt Schauss responded with a 3-pointer to make the score 57-55.

With the shot clock winding down, Caleb Featherston drained a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer from the top of the key with 47 seconds on the clock. Niko Read then made a steal on Bethel’s next possession to send Grace to the free throw line. Read hit both foul shots to effectively secure the upset.

Irwin led Grace in scoring with 14 points to go along with six rebounds. Dennis Williams had 11 points and seven boards on 5-of-7 shooting, and Kyle Fillman scored 10.

Featherston and Chad Hoffer had eight points apiece off the bench, and Niko Read tallied 4 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 steals. Bethel’s Schauss led all players with 19 points and 16 boards.

The Lancers will play at Spring Arbor on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Grace will then return to the MOCC for the first time in a month on Dec. 10 with a men’s and women’s doubleheader with St. Francis.

Lady Lancers Pound Pilots by 30

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Pictured is a file photo from Grace's women's basketball team huddling earlier in the year.

Grace’s women’s basketball team picked up its first Crossroads League victory of the year in style, blitzing Bethel 87-57 on the road on Saturday.

The Lady Lancers (8-8, 1-3 CL) had a career-high 20 points from Darian Patton in one of the Grace’s most complete performances of the season. Grace outrebounded Bethel by 20 and also held the Pilots to 31 percent shooting for the game.

The first six minutes of the game set the tone for Grace’s rout. Grace jumped out to a 16-2 lead from the start thanks to seven points from Lindsey Schaefer. Bethel rallied to within six after connecting on a pair of 3-pointers, but the Pilots would not come closer for the rest of the contest.

Grace blew the game wide open with a 20-4 run. The Lady Lancers extended their lead from six to 22 after back-to-back buckets from Kelsie Peterson. After Peterson’s second basket, Grace led Bethel 36-14 with 7:04 still to play in the half.

At halftime, Grace had doubled up Bethel 50-25 after making 19-of-33 from the floor (58 percent) and 10-of-10 from the foul line. The Pilots, on the other hand, made just nine field goals on 28 percent shooting in the opening period.

The Pilots (7-9, 1-3 CL) were never able to mount a comeback attempt in the second half. Bethel trailed by at least 20 points for the entire second half and were behind by as many as 33.

Grace head coach Scott Blum substituted liberally in the second half and played all 15 uninjured players. Eleven players scored in the game for Grace.

Darian Patton’s career-best 20 points led all players on Saturday. She shot 6-for-13 from the floor, made two 3-pointers and tallied six assists and four rebounds.

Allison Kauffman was lethally efficient, totaling 17 points by making 5-of-6 from the floor, 1-of-1 from the 3-point line and 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Lindsey Schaefer had the game’s only double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Gabby Bryant made 4-of-7 field goals for 10 points. Chloe Pridgen tallied six points and five boards in 11 minutes of action.

For the game, Grace shot 50 percent compared to 31 percent for Bethel. Grace also made nine more free throws and 12 more field goals. Bethel was led in scoring by Chelsea Ward with 12 points.

The Lady Lancers kick off a four-game home stand on Wednesday when Spring Arbor visits the MOCC at 7 p.m. Grace will also host St. Francis on Jan. 10 in a women’s and men’s doubleheader at the MOCC.

Grace Holds on Late for Win at Webber International

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Grace’s men’s basketball team may have struggled with its shot for much of Wednesday’s game with Webber International, but the Lancers made shots when it counted.

The Lancers’ clutch free throw shooting in the final minute proved the difference as Grace held on for a 60-57 win over the Warriors (3-9). The Lancers (11-4) never trailed on Wednesday in the final game of its Florida road trip, but the Warriors refused to fade.

Grace blitzed the Warriors from the get-go, claiming an 11-3 lead to force an early timeout from Webber. The Lancers led by as many as 11 in the first half and earned a 28-22 advantage at halftime.

Dennis Williams nearly had a double-double in the opening period with nine points and 10 rebounds. Grace only made 13-of-37 from the floor (36 percent) before halftime, but Webber struggled even more at 27 percent.

Grace bumped its lead back up to 11 points in the second half, but the Lancers allowed the Warriors to stay alive.

Webber made its push with five minutes left in the game, trimming a 10-point deficit down to 50-48 with 4:00 on the clock. The Warriors knotted the score for the first time all game at 53-53 on a 3-pointer with 1:03 to play. But Grace went on to win the game at the free throw line.

With the score tied, Dennis Williams was fouled and made both foul shots to give Grace a two-point edge. Brandon Vanderhegghen came up with a steal on Webber’s next possession, and Logan Irwin made two free throws to put Grace ahead by four.

The Warriors scored on the next play, and Vanderhegghen was sent to the free throw line where he made 2-of-2 with five seconds on the clock. Webber cut the lead to two points with one second on the clock, and Kyle Fillman was quickly sent to the free throw line where he made 1-of-2 for the final margin of victory.

All in all, Grace sank 7-of-8 from the free throw line over the final 34 seconds. Apart from the final 34 seconds, Grace made just 4-of-10 from the free throw line the rest of the game.

Grace struggled mightily from the 3-point line, going 1-of-19 and missing its last 16 shots from beyond the arc.

Dennis Williams put in Grace’s strongest performance with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go along with 20 rebounds. Fillman scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, and Niko Read added 14 points and three assists.

The Lancers turned the ball over a season-low six times, and they also held a dominant 51-30 advantage in rebounds. Williams nearly outrebounded Webber’s team by himself with his 20 boards.

Grace will not play again until 2015 with a men’s/women’s doubleheader at archrival Bethel College.

Kauffman’s 31 Points Powers Lady Lancers

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

*attached is a file photo from the year of Allison Kauffman taken by Jeff Nycz

A career night from senior Allison Kauffman lifted Grace’s women’s basketball team to a 64-54 win at Johnson & Wales on Monday night.

Kauffman ripped off a career-best 31 points on 13-of-21 shooting, rounding out her memorable evening with 13 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.

Grace held the Wildcats (4-5) to 30 percent shooting for the game. The Lady Lancers (7-6) also tied a season-low with nine turnovers in an efficient performance in Florida.

The Lady Lancers jumped out to a 16-5 lead after tipoff to set the tone for Monday’s game. Kelsie Peterson opened the game’s scoring with a 3-pointer, and Grace did not trail the rest of the way.

Grace went into the halftime break with a 32-22 advantage. Grace assisted on eight of its 12 made shots in the first period and held Johnson & Wales to a paltry 29 percent from the floor.

Kauffman flexed her muscles in the second half. The All-American senior netted 21 of Grace’s 32 second-half points, making 9-of-11 from the floor.

Grace led by as many as 19 points after halftime at 56-37 with 6:20 remaining. The Lady Lancers coasted to the final buzzer, winning comfortably by 10 points.

Both squads struggled to find production away from their starting five. Heather House’s two points were the only points scored off the bench by either team. The Wildcats did hold a plus-nine advantage in rebounds thanks to 23 offensive boards, but poor shooting by the home team (21-of-70) was too much for Johnson & Wales to overcome.

Peterson netted 10 points, 4 assists and 2 steals, and Lindsey Schaefer had eight points and seven rebounds. Gabby Bryant tallied 8 points, 5 boards and 3 assists, and Darian Patton added five points and five assists. JWU’s Diamond Williams scored 21 to lead the Wildcats.

Grace concludes its trip to the Sunshine State with a game Tuesday at St. Thomas at 6 p.m.

Cole, Smith Garner All-American Recognition

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Seniors Jacob Cole and Trent Smith were honored as All-Americans by the NCCAA to wrap up the 2014 season for Grace’s men’s soccer team.

Cole and Smith were both NCCAA Second Team All-Americans, released on Wednesday. The pair were also honored by the Crossroads League as Cole was First Team All-CL and Smith was Second Team All-CL.

Senior goalkeeper Cole gave up just three goals in six Crossroads League contests. He finished the season with four shutouts and nine goals surrendered, making 32 saves in 11 games.

Smith directed the Lancers’ midfield, tallying two goals and two assists. He led Grace’s team with 45 shots and 19 shots on goal.

Cole and Smith helped Grace advance to two trips to NCCAA Nationals during their four-year careers under head coach Matt Hotchkin.

Additionally, the Lancers had six players earn NAIA and NCCAA Scholar-Athlete status: seniors Ben Cahill, Cole, Payton Norris and Trent Smith and juniors Justin Festa and Kyle Hamlin. Hamlin was also named CoSIDA Academic All-District.

Rondeau Named NCCAA Player of the Year

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Pictured is Mallory Rondeau (center) celebrating a goal at NCCAA Nationals last week.

The finest season in Grace’s women’s soccer history earned the program’s finest individual award on Wednesday when Mallory Rondeau was named the NCCAA Player of the Year.

The junior forward finished the 2014 season with 18 goals and 11 assists. She ended the season on a blistering pace, tallying 14 goals with eight assists over Grace’s final 15 matches. At NCCAA Nationals, Rondeau led the Lady Lancers to the program’s first national championship game appearance with four goals and an assist in four contests.

Rondeau’s Player of the Year honor is Grace’s first such award. She joined Abby Schue and Carianne Sobey as NCCAA First Team All-Americans. Rondeau and Sobey were also honorable mentions for NAIA All-American status, and Holly Bennett was an NCCAA Second Team All-American in her final season.

Junior midfielder Sobey tallied a team-leading 12 assists to go along with five goals. Sobey, who is Grace’s career assists leader with 39 to her credit, had three assists and two goals at NCCAA Nationals.

Freshman goalkeeper Schue allowed just 13 goals to score against her in 25 games. She notched 14 shutouts and saw just one goal pass by her in four games at NCCAA Nationals. She had a shutout in eight of Grace’s nine Crossroads League contests.

Bennett played in all 25 games for the Lady Lancers. She notched a goal and two assists as a holding midfielder for Grace and graduates with Kaitlan Wiles and Kelsey Christner as the first class to make four straight national tournaments. The seniors also graduated as the winningest class in team history with a record of 61-24-11.

After Grace’s sparkling run at NCCAA Nationals, the Lady Lancers had four players land a spot on the All-Tournament Team including Schue, Meghan Wiles, Sobey and Rondeau. Schue was named the Tournament’s Outstanding Defensive Player. Wiles played an instrumental role in Grace’s possession attack during the national tournament.

In the NAIA Coaches’ Postseason Top 25 Poll, the Lady Lancers ended the season at No. 18 (also released Wednesday). It was Grace’s seventh straight national ranking from the NAIA and seventh ranking in team history.

Grace was just as impressive in the classroom. The team had 11 players earn NAIA and NCCAA Scholar-Athlete distinction: seniors Bennett, Kelsey Christner and Kaitlan Wiles and juniors Jordan Hairgrove, Darcy Johnston, Erica Manchess, Heather Martin, Rondeau, Sobey, Faith Voehringer and Meghan Wiles. Rondeau was also named to the prestigious Capital One Academic All-America® Team in November.

Grace finished the 2014 season with a number of superlatives: first NAIA Top 25 ranking, first trip to a national championship game and tied for most wins in a season (17-5-3). Grace also advanced to its second-ever league tournament championship game and fourth straight national tournament under head coach Michael Voss.

Voss commented: “Being a GCWS player is hard. This 2014 crew laid down their pride and selfish desire to make this team play ‘Possession Attacking Futbol’ at a pace and longevity we’ve never had previously. These players are special. They’ve found the right balance between being furiously competitive and living in the joy of the Lord. It’s been super hard at times, and I’m grateful they put their hope in Christ above futbol. I am super proud of these women and coaches, and I’m incredibly grateful for the working of God in our team.”

Lancers Hold on for Three-Point Win

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Pictured is Brandon Vanderhegghen dribbling against Indiana Tech on Tuesday.

Grace’s men’s basketball team may have led nearly the entire game against Indiana Tech on Tuesday, but the result was far from settled until the final seconds.

The Lancers (10-3) held on late for the 70-67 victory over the Warriors (5-7) at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.

Grace stifled Indiana Tech into 37-percent shooting for the game compared to Grace’s 43 percent. The Lancers also had six fewer turnovers than the Warriors (16 to 10), but Indiana Tech finished with a plus-five advantage on the glass as the Warriors hauled in 13 offensive rebounds.

Six players for Grace scored at least eight points, led by 15 from Kyle Fillman.

Grace got off to a torrid start on Tuesday, making its first five shots en route to a 10-2 lead. Indiana Tech was forced to burn an early timeout to slow Grace’s momentum. Grace increased its edge to 14-4 before surrendering a 10-0 run to the Warriors to tie the game.

The Warriors stayed within striking distance throughout the opening half but only led for one possession. The Lancers led 30-29 at the halftime break.

The second half was a similar story. Grace continued to maintain a slight margin over Indiana Tech, but the Lancers were unable to put the Warriors away. The teams traded baskets over the final minutes with Grace holding a one-possession lead for the majority of the last 3:00.

A late turnover by Grace with 17 seconds remaining gave Indiana Tech the ball, trailing by three points at 69-66.  But after being fouled with six seconds to play, the Warriors converted on just 1-of-2 from the line. Grace returned the favor by making 1-of-2 on its free throws to go on top 70-67. The Warriors then turned the ball over on their final possession to allow Grace to hold on for the three-point win.

Logan Irwin finished with 11 points, 7 assists, 0 turnovers and 4 rebounds, and Niko Read had 11 points. Caleb Featherston tallied nine points and four rebounds, and Dennis Williams and Brandon Vanderhegghen each chipped in eight points.

The Lancers will be away from the friendly confines of the MOCC until Jan. 10 against St. Francis. Grace will travel to Florida next week for games against Warner on Dec. 15 and Webber International on Dec. 17.

Grace Spikers Earn Pair of All-American Honors

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

To wrap up Grace’s sterling 2014 campaign, the Lady Lancers’ volleyball team picked up two All-American accolades from the NCCAA.

Senior setter Ellie Harp was named NCCAA/AVCA First Team All-American. She was also earned a spot on the six-player 2014 NCCAA All-Tournament Team after helping the Lady Lancers to the national semifinals. Harp’s 1,547 assists in her final campaign ranked seventh for a single season, and her career total of 2,619 assists was good for fourth among Grace’s all-time leaders.

Senior outside hitter Calah Kruse was named NCCAA Second Team All-American. She graduated fourth in Grace’s history with 1,924 digs and seventh with 1,173 kills.

Additionally, Hannah Clemmons was the prestigious NCCAA Susan R. Hellings Award, given to one student-athlete per year. Clemmons, along with Alix Underwood and Jessica Scherb were all named NAIA and NCCAA Scholar-Athletes. Clemmons finished her career No. 3 on Grace’s career digs leaders with 1,960 digs.

The Lady Lancers (30-12) finished the season with 30 wins for the second time since 1996, reaching the NCCAA National Championships for the third time in four years. Grace also advanced to the NCCAA Final Four for the second time in four seasons under head coach Andria Harshman.

Grace Holds Sportsmanship Summit for Northern Lakes Conference

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Pictured is the 2014 Sportsmanship Summit attendees from the Northern Lakes Conference

Grace College and Director of Athletics Chad Briscoe welcomed student-athletes from the high schools of the Northern Lakes Conference for a Sportsmanship Summit on Tuesday.

Ten student-athletes from eight NLC schools attended the conference, which was designed to educate student-athletes about sportsmanship and character training in athletics.

“We are pleased to be a part of building character at the high-school level through the Sportsmanship Summit,” Briscoe said. “We hope it served as a great opportunity to educate and reinforce character education and to help promote the importance of sportsmanship for each student-athlete.”

Students from Concord, Elkhart Memorial, Goshen, Northridge, NorthWood, Plymouth, Warsaw and Wawasee high schools spent the day together working in groups to discuss and challenge one another in sportsmanship and character-building opportunities in the athletic realm. The students worked in team-initiative opportunities to build camaraderie among the schools in the conference.

“The schools in the NLC are really supportive of one another. Sometimes that gets lost in the heat of competition on Friday and Saturday nights,” said Warsaw athletic director Dave Anson. “Efforts like this truly help our student-athletes and leaders continue emphasizing the important and lasting messages that athletics can send. Thank you to Grace for helping us as a conference meet the need for character emphasis in our schools and communities.”

The Sportsmanship Summit featured sessions from IHSAA Assistant Commissioner Sandy Searcy, Grace College Vice President Jim Swanson and Briscoe.

Warsaw sophomore Page Desenberg commented: “In our society, there is a lot of attitude and ego that’s all about me, me, me. Today helped bring to light the importance of decision-making and how we can have a big impact on kids looking up to us.”

Wawasee sophomore Stephen Possell added: “We were reminded today that sportsmanship is a goal that each team should have. The positive attitude and feedback student-athletes can bring to our schools can make a difference.”

Men’s Basketball Slips in OT to Goshen

Monday, December 8th, 2014

A wild Crossroads League game went against Grace’s men’s basketball team on  Saturday as Goshen scored late to win 74-73 in overtime.

Grace made a massive comeback to force overtime against the Maple Leafs (8-3, 2-1 CL) and went ahead in the final 10 seconds of overtime. But Goshen made the decisive play, winning the game with four seconds to play.

Despite Goshen hitting 54 percent of its shots in the first period, Grace still went into the halftime locker room tied at 34-34.

Goshen quickly asserted control in the second half and held a lead for nearly the entire 20 minutes. The Maple Leafs held a seemingly comfortable 67-57 lead with 4:48 remaining. But Grace made a remarkable rally, ending regulation with a 12-2 run including the game-tying basket from Niko Read.

In overtime, Grace trailed by two with less than a minute to play. Logan Irwin then stepped up to bury the go-ahead 3-pointer with 10 seconds on the clock, only to see Goshen’s Stefon Luckey race down the court and score the game winner with four ticks remaining. The Maple Leafs escaped the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center with the one-point victory.

For the game, Grace struggled with its shot at 38 percent compared to 49 percent for Goshen. The Lancers did have nine 3-pointers to their credit, including four treys from Read and three from Brandon Vanderhegghen. Read and Irwin finished with team-leading 16 points apiece, and Irwin added 9 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 steals.

Caleb Featherston had a double-double of 14 points and 10 boards, Vanderhegghen finished with nine points and Kyle Fillman added eight.

The Lancers have one home game remaining in 2014. Grace hosts Indiana Tech on Tuesday at 7 p.m. before heading to Florida the following week for a pair of games.