Archive for the ‘Feature Stories’ Category

2015 NCCAA DI Basketball Championships Men’s & Women’s National Tournament – March 18 – 21

Monday, March 16th, 2015

The NCCAA D1 tournament games begin on Wednesday, March 18th with 8 games on the schedule for the 1st day of the tournament.  The tournaments conclude on Saturday, March 21st with the men’s championship game scheduled for 2 pm and the women’s championship at 5 pm.

The Grace College women’s basketball team earned the #6 seed and will play #3 seed Bethesda University (CA) at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, March 18th.  The men’s team earned the #3 seed and will play the #6 seed Dallas Baptist University at 5:15 pm on Wednesday, March 18th as well.  The Parade of Champions ceremony where all 16 participating teams are introduced will be held at 7:00 pm between the two Grace games.
Former NCAA men’s basketball coach Dave Bliss will be the banquet speaker for the National Championships next Tuesday night.  Bliss, who coached at Oklahoma, New Mexico, SMU and Baylor, will release his autobiography entitled “Fall to Grace: The Climb, Collapse, and Comeback of Coach Dave Bliss” at the NCCAA Banquet on March 17. Tickets are available to hear Bliss speak and to obtain an autographed copy of his book. Please contact the Grace College Athletic office at (574) 372-5100 ext: 6266 to reserve tickets for the banquet.
Please feel free to keep up with all the Championship tournament information at the tournament website:

Grace Crowned NCCAA Midwest Regional Champs

Monday, March 16th, 2015

The Lady Lancers’ basketball team will enter next week’s NCCAA National Championships on a high note after claiming the Midwest Regional championship on Friday.

Grace buried eight 3-pointers and used a key second-half run to handle Cincinnati Christian 77-73 at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center.

The Lady Lancers (17-15) will find out their next opponent late Saturday evening when the official bracket and tournament field is announced for the 2015 NCCAA Nationals, held at Grace College from March 18-21.

Grace got off to a sluggish start on Friday, trailing 8-0 within three minutes of the tipoff. CCU jumped out to a 14-4 lead before Grace found its stride.

The Lady Lancers rattled off a 17-3 run over the next five minutes to go on top by four. Allison Kauffman and Gabby Bryant scored six points apiece during Grace’s spurt. Bryant was a major offensive piece for Grace in the half, leading all players with 13 points and a trio of 3-pointers.

Grace still led by four with five minutes to go in the first half, but the Eagles (15-16) rallied to grab a 38-36 lead at the midway break. The Eagles took advantage of Grace’s zone in the opening half, scoring 18 points in the paint. Grace had 11 assists on 15 made field goals before halftime.

CCU started as the better team in the second half as well, pulling ahead by eight at 50-42 with 15:35 remaining. Grace responded with eight unanswered points to pull even at 50-50 on a shot from Micah Pollard.

Grace eventually found the separation it needed thanks to the hot shooting of Kauffman and Kelsey Sule. Kauffman went on a 6-0 run of her own to put Grace up by three. Sule then caught fire, draining back-to-back 3-pointers followed by a runner in the lane as the Lady Lancers claimed a 72-59 advantage with 3:29 remaining. Grace’s game-changing run was an 18-2 charge over a span of 6:46. Kelsie Peterson had four assists to propel Grace in that run.

The Eagles employed a fullcourt press out of desperation in the final minutes and nearly pulled off a comeback. CCU nabbed three steals and managed to cut Grace’s cushion down to three points with less than a minute to play.

Kauffman hit 1-of-2 from the foul line with 28 seconds to play to extend Grace’s lead to four, but the Eagles quickly scored to make the score 75-73 with 15 seconds left. Peterson then iced the regional crown seven seconds later by calmly sinking both free throws for the final four-point margin of victory.

Kauffman tied for scoring honors on the night with 23 points on 11-of-21 shooting while also pulling down eight boards. Bryant finished with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists, and Sule tallied 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc.

Peterson amassed 7 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals, Heather House added six points off the bench, and JoEllen Fickel pulled down seven boards.

As a team Grace had 20 assists to tie a season-high. Grace also outrebounded CCU by six thanks to 13 offensive rebounds. The Lady Lancers’ bench poured in 25 points.

Lancers Fade Late to Southern Oregon

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Photo by Brian Beery. Pictured is Logan Irwin defending the ball in the first half.

Grace’s men’s basketball team could not replicate its late-game magic again on Friday, falling to Southern Oregon 68-62 in the NAIA Second Round.

The Lancers (22-11) led for nearly the entire first 30 minutes of action, but the Raiders (26-9) surged ahead late to advance to the national quarterfinals.

The loss shifts Grace’s focus to next week’s 2015 NCCAA National Championships. Grace will enter the tournament as the host school and will look to improve on last year’s second-place finish. NCCAA Nationals are held March 18-21 at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center. (NCCAA TOURNAMENT CENTRAL)

A day after pulling the upset of No. 7 Bellevue thanks to a tenacious defense, the Lancers’ defense picked up where it left off on Friday. Grace forced Southern Oregon into turnovers on the first two possessions. The Lancers came out firing, making its first three shots and taking a 9-2 lead.

Chad Hoffer provided a major offensive spark off the bench in the first half, ripping off 11 points as Grace went ahead 24-14. The Raiders responded with nine straight points to trim Grace’s cushion to one.

Southern Oregon eventually tied the score at 29-29 with less than seven minutes to play in the half, but the Lancers pulled ahead 39-35 at halftime. Both teams shot well from the field with the Raiders at 54 percent and Grace at 52 percent. Grace made one more 3-pointer and had one less turnover than Southern Oregon over the first 20 minutes.

The second half was back-and-forth with Grace refusing to surrender the lead. The Raiders finally claimed their first lead of the game at 50-49 with 11 minutes remaining. Southern Oregon grabbed its largest lead at 59-53 with six minutes to play, but the Lancers clawed back within striking distance.

Caleb Featherston sank a clutch jumper with the shot clock expiring, pulling Grace to within 62-61 with 2:00 on the clock. After a defensive stop, Grace missed a jumper, but Dennis Williams grabbed the offensive board and was fouled with 50.1 seconds to play. Williams hit 1-of-2 to tie the game.

The Raiders were fouled on their end of the floor and hit both shots to take a two-point lead. Logan Irwin went to the foul line and missed the front-end of a bonus free throw. Grace fouled and was then whistled for a technical foul, allowing the Raiders to claim a five-point edge from the free throw line with 19.2 seconds remaining. The Lancers turned the ball over on their next possession, leading to the inevitable defeat.

For the second half, Grace was outscored 33-23. The Lancers hit just 33 percent from the floor, 13 percent from the 3-point line (1-of-8) and 55 percent from the foul line.

Featherston led Grace in scoring with 13 points, and Irwin added 12 points and five boards. Hoffer tallied 12 points in 16 minutes off the bench, and Vanderhegghen notched 11 points, 4 boards and a game-high 4 steals.

Grace will find out its opponent for next week’s NCCAA Nationals when the official bracket and tournament field is announced late Saturday night.

Late Heroics Seal Grace’s Upset Victory Over No. 7 Bellevue

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

(Photos by Brian Beery) Logan Irwin bringing the ball up the court against Bellevue

Kyle Fillman (right) and Caleb Featherston celebrating in the final seconds during Grace's win

A stout defensive performance and late free throws propelled Grace’s men’s basketball team to a 54-50 upset of No. 7 Bellevue on Thursday in the opening round of the 2015 NAIA Div. II National Championships.

The Lancers (22-10) held Bellevue to 30 points below its season scoring average of 80.0 ppg. Grace’s lockdown defense was especially apparent in the second half as the Bruins (28-6) scored just 17 points, including three points over the final 6:16 of regulation.

The back-and-forth game featured nine ties and 10 lead changes, and neither team led by more than six points.

Grace opened the game with a 3-pointer from Brandon Vanderhegghen, and Logan Irwin repeated the performance a minute later. Irwin was to play a vital role offensively for Grace in the opening half, leading all players with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

Bellevue closed out the first half on a 7-2 run to claim a 33-30 advantage at halftime. Both teams shot better than 43 percent from the floor, but they combined to make 3-of-19 from beyond the arc.

The Bruins started as the stronger squad to open the second half and had the largest lead of the game at 40-34 with 12:43 remaining. But Vanderhegghen singlehandedly pulled Grace back, rattling off seven points in two minutes to cut the Bruins’ lead to one possession.

From that point forward, the Lancers’ defense took care of the rest. Bellevue hit a free throw to make the score 47-45 with 6:17 on the clock. Grace’s defense then stifled the Bruins into scoring just three points over the final six minutes of play, setting the stage for a dramatic comeback.

Grace still trailed by three with under three minutes to play when Vanderhegghen was fouled and made both attempts. After a turnover from the Bruins, Irwin was fouled and hit both shots to give Grace a 51-50 lead with 1:29 left to play.

The Lancers made another defensive stop and let the clock run down on the ensuing offensive possession. Irwin missed a shot, but Niko Read came up with a big offensive board with 34.1 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Grace turned the ball over, but Bellevue spoiled a chance to go ahead with a turnover of its own.

Kyle Fillman was fouled with 11 seconds left and made 1-of-2. Caleb Featherston came up with a game-clinching play to soar for the offensive rebound on Fillman’s miss. Irwin was fouled and hit 2-of-2 from the line with less than five seconds to play, securing Grace’s upset.

Irwin had a game-high 21 points to go along with three assists and three boards. Vanderhegghen had 18 points and also led all players with nine rebounds. Featherston tallied 6 points, 6 boards and 4 steals, Erik Bowen scored four points off the bench, and Dennis Williams added 2 points, 7 boards and 2 blocks.

Although Grace shot 38 percent from the floor, the Lancers held the Bruins to an even lower 33 percent. Bellevue made just 5-of-26 (19 percent) after halftime.

The Lancers will play either No. 10 Midland or Southern Oregon in the NAIA Second Round on Friday at 2:45 p.m. (ET).


Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Grace’s men’s basketball team is set to embark on the 2015 NAIA Div. II National Basketball Championships this week.

The Lancers open the tournament on Thursday at 11:15 a.m. (ET) against the No. 7-seeded Bellevue (Neb.).

CoverageVIDEO (subscription required)  |  AUDIO (free)  |  STATS

Follow the action on twitter using the hashtags #NAIADIIMBB and #WeAreGC. Behind-the-scenes coverage available on twitter (@GCLancers) and Instagram (@GCLancers).

Scouting Grace: The Lancers (21-10) are to making their sixth trip to NAIA Nationals in the past eight years under head coach Jim Kessler. Grace’s last trip in 2013 resulted in a run to the national semifinals. Grace received an at-large berth to the tournament despite losing its last three games of the season.

The Lancers have relied on balanced scoring and a tenacious defense this year. Among NAIA Div. II teams, Grace ranks No. 6 in guarding the 3-point line (31.2 percent) and No. 9 in scoring defense (64.2 points per game).

Offensively, Grace has four players averaging double figures in points, including Logan Irwin (13.5 ppg), Niko Read (11.9), Brandon Vanderhegghen (10.5) and Dennis Williams (10.2). Irwin, Read and Vanderhegghen have drilled over 40 treys apiece this season, and Williams is making 60 percent of his shots from the floor.

Irwin, the team’s floor general and point guard, has one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the nation with 140 assists to just 50 turnovers.

Click here to hear a radio preview show with interviews from Grace coaches and players.

Scouting Bellevue: The Bruins (28-5) are the No. 7 seed in the tournament after winning the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Tournament. Bellevue is one of the most experienced national tournament teams in Branson as the Bruins are making their 16th trip, second only to the host College of the Ozarks.

Bellevue has made 12 consecutive trips to Branson and has lost in the First Round only once in that stretch (2006).

The Bruins feature a balanced offense of their own with the two-headed attack of Percy Lemle and Taylor Young both averaging 16.3 points per game. Alex Worthen-Harris (11.0 ppg) and Thomas Hammock (9.1) add scoring depth to the high-scoring Bruins, who average 80 ppg. Bellevue has reached 90 points in a game nine times, including a 102-point outburst against William Penn on Dec. 13.

Offensively, Bellevue relies heavily on the 3-point shot. The Bruins average over eight made 3’s per game and make 37 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. Bellevue shoots 46 percent from the floor and 70 percent from the free throw line.

What’s next: With a win, Grace would take on the winner of No. 10 Midland and Southern Oregon on Friday at 2:45 p.m. in the Second Round. A win on Friday would put Grace in the national quarterfinals on Saturday at 4 p.m.

With a loss, Grace would return to Winona Lake, Ind., to play in the NCCAA National Basketball Championships held at Grace from March 18-21.

Freshman Elliott Named League’s Pitcher/Player of Week

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Grace College Freshman, Chandler Elliott

Freshman Chandler Elliott swept the Crossroads League weekly honors for Grace’s softball team on Monday.

Elliott was named the Pitcher of the Week and the Player of the Week as she led Grace on offense and defense.

The freshman standout exceled for Grace at the plate and on the mound. Offensively, she hit safely in all eight games last week in Florida. Elliott was sizzling at the plate with a .481 batting average, pounding out 13 hits, 5 doubles and 1 triple. She scored a run in each of the final five games in Florida and had four multi-hit games for the Lady Lancers.

On the mound for Grace, Elliott posted a 2.49 ERA in 19.2 innings. The hurler picked up two complete-game victories from the mound, including one over Bellevue who is receiving votes in the NAIA Preseason Top 25 Preseason Poll. She also tossed seven innings of one-run ball to defeat Point Park. Additionally, she earned a save over Bellevue in the second matchup of the squads in Grace’s 4-3 victory.

The Lady Lancers head to Hattiesburg, Miss., this weekend for a tournament at William Carey. Grace will play the NAIA No. 2-ranked William Carey on Friday.

Three School Records Fall at NAIA Indoor Nationals

Monday, March 9th, 2015

Grace ended the indoor season with three more school records at the 2015 NAIA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

The women’s 4×400-meter relay team of Mya BrownAlicia HertzlerKatelyn McCullough and Jo Boren broke the school record and placed 21st in the nation on Thursday to set the tone for the week. The squad marked the first time Grace has sent a 4×400 relay team (men’s or women’s) to NAIA Nationals. The foursome smashed their previous record by over four seconds, crossing the finish line in 4:00.26.

“The women made a great showing, fought off the nerves of competing at NAIA Nationals for the first time, and put together a very strong race,” Raymond said. “We knew the competition would be very good, so the goal was to set a PR and place higher than we were seeded. We accomplished both of those tasks.”

Boren and Brown went on to break two more school records in the meet on Friday. Boren set her record in the 400 race, crossing the finish line in 58.46 seconds to place 15th. Brown ran a school-record time of 9.20 in the 60 hurdles to finish 17th in the nation.

Additionally, Nathan Brown completed four events in the heptathlon and was in sixth place after the Thursday’s events. He finished second among competitors in the high jump portion of the heptathlon and ended in 15th place nationally on Friday.

Donovan Graham wrapped up Grace’s showing at NAIA Nationals with a career-best performance in the 800. He finished in 13th place in a time of 1:55.55.

The Lancers will now shift their focus on the outdoor season, kicking off with the Butler Bulldog Opener in Indianapolis on March 21.

DANCIN’ IN BRANSON: Lancers Secure Eighth Trip to NAIA Nationals

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Grace has punched its ticket to the 2015 NAIA Div. II National Championships in Branson, Mo.

The Lancers were the second-to-last bubble team to receive an invite to the tournament, earning the seventh of eight at-large bids to the 32-team field.

Grace, who was ranked No. 24 in Wednesday’s NAIA poll, will find out its first-round opponent tonight at 9 p.m. in the live selection show at


Grace enters the tournament with a record of 21-10 although the Lancers have dropped three straight. Grace’s last appearance at NAIA Nationals resulted in a run to the national semifinals in 2013. This year’s tournament will make six trips in eight years to NAIA Nationals under head coach Jim Kessler.

“This trip is a gift based on the body of work for our season. To win 11 games in this league is hard, and making NAIA’s is a tribute to how this team dug and clawed all season,” Kessler said. “Sometimes you go to this tournament with too high expectations and play tight. This year we will be going with great appreciation and without pressure as the underdog, similar to how we did two years ago when we made it to the semifinals.”

The Crossroads League will be well-represented at the tournament with four teams in the field – Grace, Indiana Wesleyan, St. Francis and Bethel. Only two other conferences in the nation had four qualifiers.

Grace College to Host Dr. Brad Gundlach at Lyceum Lecture

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Pictured: Dr. Brad Gundlach

As a part of the Lyceum Series on Faith and the Academy, Grace College will be hosting Dr. Brad Gundlach on Thursday evening, March 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the Westminster East Room. He will be giving a talk entitled, ” Religion and the Evolution Question: A Historian’s Perspective” about his recently published book, Process and Providence: The Evolution Question. The event is open to the public and refreshments will be provided.

Dr. Gundlach specializes in American intellectual, cultural, and religious history and also enjoys teaching broadly in world civilization, church history, and the philosophy and methods of history. He started teaching at Trinity International University after teaching at Wheaton College and Wheaton Graduate School. He is the author of Process and Providence: The Evolution Question at Princeton, 1845-1929, and is currently at work on a biography of Princeton theologian B. B. Warfield. He currently serves as the Director of the Division of Humanities and as Book Review Editor for Fides et Historia, the journal of the Conference on Faith and History.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Gundlach deliver our Lyceum Lecture this year,” said Dr. Jared Burkholder, chair of the history and political science department and director of Faith, Learning & Scholarship at Grace College. “Christians so often see the creation-evolution issue as a matter only of biblical interpretation. Yet, every area of debate has a history, and when we examine issues like this from a historical perspective, it helps us frame our discussions about the Bible within a cultural context and allows us to see things from a broader vantage point. Brad is a sensitive and faithful Christian who understands this history and is well-suited to unpack for us the history of Christian perspectives on the ‘evolution question.’”

The Lyceum Series on Faith and the Academy is a lecture series that draws inspiration from both the history of Grace College and Winona Lake. During America’s Progressive Era at the turn of the twentieth century, Winona Lake’s Chatauqua tradition attracted lectures and presentations from high- profile speakers who brought high culture to small-town America. Past notable figures include three-time democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, humorist Will Rogers, and famous preacher Russell Conwell.

Under the Office of Faith, Learning & Scholarship, the Lyceum Series on Faith and the Academy reflects Winona Lake’s tradition of cultural engagement and Grace College’s commitment to vibrant conversation on issues related to the intersection of Christian faith and academics.

Mountaineer Eric Alexander to Speak at Grace College’s Transition Exploration Day

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Pictured: Eric Alexander - author, skier, climber, and mountaineer

This year’s Transition Exploration Day hosted by the Grace College Student Chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children welcomes  keynote speaker Eric Alexander; skier, climber, and mountaineer. The event, held at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 13, is an opportunity for high school students with disabilities to explore post-secondary options that are available in the community.

Mr. Alexander will deliver a keynote address multimedia presentation in which he shares his story of leading people with disabilities to the top of the highest point on six of seven continents, including his blind friend Erik Weihenmayer to the summit of Everest. Eric tells of surviving a 150’ fall in the Himalayas while training for Everest, the inspiration he gained from his team and his faith, and how he fought against his doubts and fears to be an integral part of this historic ascent.

Following the keynote address, students will have the opportunity to visit a Transition Exhibition where area agencies, educational institutions, and businesses will have display booths showcasing opportunities and resources available as the students plan for post-graduation.

Alexander is author of The Summit: Faith Beyond Everest’s Death Zone, as well appearing in the award- winning documentary, “Farther Than the Eye Can See.” He has appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, Discovery Channel, TIME, Outside, Climbing, and many more. Learn more at

“Transition Exploration Day is such a great opportunity for our Council for Exceptional Children Student Chapter to play out their mission of showing God’s love to the community and student body,” said Dr. Cheryl Bremer, chair of the special education department at Grace College. “Eric Alexander has an amazing story and we are excited to see how it will touch the lives of students with disabilities win the community.”