On Monday, October 21, the Dakota State men’s basketball team fell to Bethany College in their season opener. It was back and forth throughout the whole game, but the Swedes were able to pull away in the final minutes to win 75-65. Despite the loss it was a good showing for the Trojan men who look to improve on a 9-22 overall record last season.
This season, the team will be without Justin Folkers for the first time in four years. Last year he was named the conference’s most valuable player and named to the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball All-American Second Team. However, the Trojans still return a solid core of men from last year’s squad. This includes juniors Brady Elder, Cody Muilenburg, and Josh McGreal along with sophomores Brady Van Holland, Carson Rentz, and Anthony Costello. This group looks to turn things around with the help of junior transfers Gare Ewefada and Sawyer Koch.
The Trojans started the season out strong, taking an early 9-6 lead to start the game. Throughout the first half, the game was tied six times and there were seven lead changes. However, Bethany College would head into the locker room at half time up by two with the score at 40-38. Going into the second half the game continued to be a back and forth matchup, but the Swedes would make a 10-0 scoring run to make the score 59-51 with 9:25 left in the game. The Trojans would never quite recover after this. They would attempt to come
Sawyer Koch helped lead the Trojans with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Gare Ewefada had 14 points and Josh McGreal had 11. Shaq Russell helped to add 6 points of his own as well as dishing out 5 assists. It’s hard to be happy with a loss, but Head Coach Gary Garner said he was happy with the way the defense played. The Trojans played good team defense forcing Bethany College to only shoot 38.7 percent from the field. He said if the team can continue to play defense like that then they should have a good chance to win ball games. Oppositely, he commented that the team struggled on the offensive end of the court and noted that as one thing they needed to improve on.
Next up the Trojans will head to Hastings, Nebraska to face Concordia (Neb.) on Friday at 5:00 p.m. On Saturday, the Trojan’s will play Hastings at 4:00 p.m. Junior point guard Brady Elder said, “These next few games will be important to help set the tone for the rest of the season. It’s important to help build confidence in our team, especially since we have a lot of newcomers. Going into the weekend we are just looking to compete and come out with a pair of wins.” Hopefully, the Trojans can go out and get things done this weekend. Good luck and go Trojans!