WEST BASKETBALL: Bluejays fend off Defenders

WORTHINGTON -- Bill Cloak saved his best for last. The sophomore guard scored eight of the final nine points for the Minnesota West men's basketball team, leading the Bluejays to a 68-62 victory against the Dordt junior varsity on Monday night. "...

MW's Cory Lesnar
Michael Brauer/daily globe Bluejay Cory Lesnar (40) fights through a group of defenders for a bucket in the second half against Dordt Monday night.

WORTHINGTON -- Bill Cloak saved his best for last.

The sophomore guard scored eight of the final nine points for the Minnesota West men's basketball team, leading the Bluejays to a 68-62 victory against the Dordt junior varsity on Monday night.

"I was in a zone," Cloak said. "I didn't know what to do. I was listening to what coach said. I was just moving. All I had to do was move and cut and slash. I'm a slasher."

After Dordt's Austin Vande Vegte hit a shot to cut the deficit to two points, MW (3-4) took a timeout with 3:22 remaining in the game.

It was then that Cloak made his move.


He went on a 6-0 run himself, turning a two point advantage into a 65-57 lead -- forcing a Dordt timeout with 1:18 remaining.

"He got a screen and came to the ball side and got a layup, and that really got him going," MW head coach Justin Heckenlaible said of Cloak. "Then he made a turnaround jumper in the lane and then he made that last one, which it kind of rolled in. He was feeling it and it put us up eight. It was one of those, if it goes in, great. I would have waited for a layup, but he was feeling it and stepped up and made some big shots. In our losses, the other team has had someone step and make big shots at big times, and Bill did that (Monday)."

But Cloak wasn't done yet.

After a trey by Dordt's Mark Van Maanen (19 points) cut the deficit to five points, MW's Anthony Tomscha made a free throw to give the Bluejays a little more cushion.

Van Maanen answered with another basket, and with just less than a minute remaining, the Defenders were within four, 66-62.

However, Cloak stuck the dagger. With a long pass ahead, the sophomore made an open layup, giving MW its final 68-62 margin.

"We were patient," Cloak said. "We were moving the ball around and not jumping the gun too much. Our defense helped us a lot. We're starting to press now; they haven't been a pressing team for a while."

Cloak finished with 14 points in the game, while Cory Lesnar, who was playing with a facemask to protect his surgically-repaired nose, had a team-best 18 for the Bluejays.


"I think we played hard for the entire game," Heckenlaible said. "That's something that we've struggled with, we always have a five or six minute period within the game where we stopped executing or making plays. We did that for the entire 40 minutes (Monday) and made some big plays at the end. I think our defensive pressure got to them. In my eight-year career, they always seem to make those 3s in the last minute, luckily they only made one (Monday)."

The Defenders came out of the gate firing, taking a quick 5-0 lead to open the game.

However, a pair of treys by John Jones gave MW the lead, 6-5.

Vande Vegte (21 points) hit two jumpers and Lesnar answered with two baskets of his own as MW had a 10-9 lead in the early going. But that would be the final lead for nearly 20 minutes.

Dordt answered with a 20-8 run and led 29-18.

Lesnar scored four points and Alexandros Papageorgiou made a shot at the buzzer, but the Defenders had a 33-28 lead at the break.

Lesnar gave the Bluejays their next lead, 38-37, five minutes into the second half, but that lead was short lived as teams traded baskets back and forth midway through the second half.

Vande Vegte hit a shot, increasing the lead to 55-51 with just less than seven minutes remaining. But that would be the final lead for the Defenders all night.


Lesnar answered with a pair of baskets and Tomscha made two free throws, giving MW the lead, 57-55.

Vande Vegte hit a shot late in the game, and after the MW timeout, Cloak took over, sending the Bluejays to a victory.

"I'm just real proud of the guys," Heckenlaible said. "It's been a struggle about the last two weeks, we've been so close. To finally get over the hump and get a win going into the break. We executed some good things. Sioux Falls played a zone on Thursday and we had the same looks, we just weren't making them. (Monday) we got into the zone a little more, we penetrated more and we finished."

MW, playing aggressive defense, forced 23 Defender turnovers. The Bluejays only committed 18.

"I think we played pretty good," Cloak said. "We had less turnovers this games. Everybody took good shots and we did pretty good.

"A lot of teams we're going to be playing are up-tempo. We have to be on it. I've been a defensive player my whole life, so I'm on it."

The Bluejays will have a week off before hosting Dakota Wesleyan a week from today. But Monday's victory gives MW confidence going into Thanksgiving break

"It feels real good after being on a three-game losing streak," Cloak said. "This is great thing for us; we had to leave on a good note."


Dordt 33 29 -- 62

MW 28 40 -- 68

Dordt JV (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Lenderink 0-4-0-8, Gesink 0-0-2-2, VanMaanen 5-2-0-19, Koopmans 0-1-2-4, Cross 0-4-0-8, Vande Vegte 3-6-0-21. Totals 8-17-4-62.

MW (3FG-2FG-FT-TP) Akoi 0-2-0-4, Metz 0-2-4-8, Tomscha 0-1-8-10, Jones 2-0-0-6, Papageorgiou 0-1-0-2, Lesnar 0-8-2-18, Cloak 0-7-0-14, VanDuyn 0-3-0-6. Totals 2-24-11-68.

MW's Monte Metz
Michael Brauer/daily globe Bluejay Monte Metz (14) scoops in a layup in the first half against Dordt Monday night. Minnesota West edged the Defenders, 68-62.

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