By Jacob Jimmerson
The Southwestern College Builders stormed out to a big first half lead and didn’t turn back, leaving the Ecclesia Royals in the dust.
This was expected to be a much closer contest after the Royals had upset the number 12 team in the nation, but the Builders shut them down early with their defense and stormed on to win 67-44 at Stewart Field House in Winfield.
Head coach Matt O’Brien was happy with his team’s success. He said, “Our defense only gave up 15 points in the second half and that is something that I am very proud of. We did a great job of staying to our gaps and the effort was there all night.”
Chris Waller, junior guard, has been a major addition to the roster. O’Brien said, “Waller is a huge weapon on both sides of the ball. All the new guys are going to help this team out a lot and really increase the depth that we have on our team.”
The ball movement was a strong part of the game. O’Brien said, “I was so proud of the ball movement tonight and I was preaching it to my team in every huddle that we had. It was some of the best ball movement that I have seen since I have been here.”
The Builders have a lot of momentum moving into their conference schedule. O’Brien said, “It’s nice to be 9-0 heading into the first KCAC game. But, we have not proved anything yet, none of this will matter if we do not continue to play well at the start of our next portion of the schedule.”
The Builders tried out a new 1-3-1 zone tonight that would switch to a man defense. O’Brien said, “I really liked the zone tonight and it is something that you can expect to see more of moving forward. It’s nice starting out in a zone and then switching to the man, because it burns off the shot clock.”
The KCAC conference schedule is about to begin for the Builders and it has a tough start. O’Brien said, “We start with the best teams in the conference which will be tough, but it will be a great test to see where we are as a team. The pre-season is over, now the real deal starts.”
William Tisdale, senior guard and forward, is a huge part of this team and led the Builders in scoring with 14 baskets. Tisdale said, “I really got myself going tonight which is nice for momentum moving forward. My confidence level is high going into conference.”
The defensive intensity has risen for the Builders this year. Tisdale said, “You can expect to see more of the zone switching to man that you saw tonight. The 1-3-1 zone is working great for us and I think that our man defense is excellent as well.”
This Builder team looks a lot different than last year’s team. Tisdale said, “The effort and determination is great and the attitude is right in practice. The ball movement is great right now and we need to continue to do that more. But, now it is time to show this in conference, because we haven’t done anything yet.”
Drew Hudson, junior forward, is a lights out shooter for the Builders and was the second leading scorer at 13 baskets. Hudson said, “It was nice to finally get going at home. I hadn’t been shooting well at home, but I was playing okay on the road. It’s just nice to get my confidence going before we move onto the KCAC.”
Hudson struggled with defense as an underclassman, but has worked hard on it. He said, “I played a lot of pick-up basketball over the summer and challenged myself to play good defense and I think that has shown. My defense is a lot better.”
There is a lot of momentum moving forward into KCAC play for the Builders. Hudson said, “We haven’t lost a game and that says a lot about this team, but now it is time to move on and continue this into the real deal. Our mindset is that we don’t call ourselves good and we want to improve every single day.”
The Builders finish their pre-conference schedule at 9-0. They will open up against the Tabor Blue Jays Dec. 4. Tabor is 0-4 currently, but is still the number 20 team in the nation.
Jacob Jimmerson is a sophomore majoring in communication. You may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.