Wildcats win over undefeated Eagles


Photo courtesy of Kelly Bird

Wildcats snatch the Northwest University’s Eagles in men’s basketball home opener today. After an intense last couple minutes, where the Eagles climbed the score board nesting right under Linfield’s lead heading into the last two minutes, the ‘Cats prevailed to 78-71 final score.

“It felt great,” junior Will Burghardt said about the win. “We had a hard week of practice coach was really on us. I think we prepared really well, and we came out an executed our game plan and was got the dub.”

In the final 11 seconds senior Tanner Autencio stole the ball giving Linfield one last play. The ball zig zagged down the court from Burghardt then to junior Dempsey Roggenbuck to senior Grant Gibb who was wide open. Gibb with all the room layups with six seconds the clock. Relief fills Gibb’s face as the final buzzer goes off.

“We’re just trying to stay calm and focus,” Burghardt said about the team’s mentality in the final minutes of the game.

The ‘Cats capitalized on their offensive opportunities beating out the Eagles on 3-pointers and attempted field goals made. Burghardt went 4-4 on 3-pointers. Roggenbuck led with nine field goals.

On the defensive end the Eagles outplayed the ’Cats with 27 rebounds and 22 offensive rebounds. Northwest’s Hussayn Ford came away with 10 defensive rebounds.

“The biggest things are hit the body, be aggressive, and pursue the ball,” sophomore Aaron Baune said about the rebound match up. “We’re all working on it. It is hard when they are athletic like that, but we can defiantly do that with all five of us even the guards can get in there.”

At the end of the first half Linfield led 38-30. The ‘Cats held a high intense attacking pace that helped them execute many of their plays.

“Our big man Austin Hilton had a lot of key rebounds down there,” Baune said. Defensive rebounds that stopped their brakes and it was good to see.”

Seniors Austin Hilton and Gibb led the Wildcats defense with rebounds with six total each. Gibb also had two blocks.

Heading into the match Northwest was undefeated 4-0 and Linfield was 1-1. The Wildcats began their season at the Redlands Tipoff Classic in California last weekend. The ‘Cats came away with a win on their first game against Whittier 103-98. But in their second game the Redland Bulldogs outplayed them 94-69.

“In the Redlands game we showed up soft and we didn’t have any grit,” Burghardt said. “We looked tired. And this whole week we just kind of mentally prepared for battle we knew this was going to be tough they’re big, strong, older.”

Northwest’s bench is lined with upperclassman. Out of the 16-man roster only four are underclassman. Where on the Linfield side the underclassman outnumbers the 20-man roster 12-8.

The Wildcats leave their third game of the season with a 2-1 overall record. It won’t be until early January before they meet up with any Northwest Conference teams. In the meantime, the ‘Cats prepare with a host of non-conference match-ups.

Burghardt said during this time the team has been working on their defensive toughness by getting their rotation down and all five guys out blocking.

“Limiting the teams to one-shot that’s huge for us,” Burghardt said. “Our offense can score so if we just get shots then we know we can score. We just have to limit teams to one-shot and play solid defense and get out on the run.”

The Wildcat’s are on the road Tuesday against Evergreen State.