Note: Some information in this article first appeared in a previous story published exclusively online on January 22, 2020. To read the preceding article, click here.
While the season has been full of highs and lows for the Hastings College men’s basketball team, the team has been able to steady the ship. The Broncos are currently sitting 12-10 overall, with 5-7 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) play.
“Our mindset’s been very good. We’ve had about five games that we lost by one possession at three points or less and sometimes when you pile up tough losses, it kind of eats at your confidence. Our guys have been really good about staying focused, pushing through,” said Head Coach Bill Gavers.
HC has been a team with multiple streaks this year, both wins and losses, winning five of their first six games before losing seven out of eight. The Broncos have rebounded, winning six of their last eight games, but it remains to be seen if they can find a way to make it to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Tournament.
With seven returning seniors, the Broncos came into the season with high expectations.
“As a team, we wanted to defend our home court — win every game at home. Obviously, that didn’t work out as planned. We wanted to be in the top four in the conference because normally our conference is fairly good. We wanted to be in the top four and make Nationals, which kind of is not working out as planned either, but there’s a lot of season left and we just keep grinding and push through,” said Senior Brendan Lipovsky.
Much like the past two seasons, Senior Bart Hiscock is leading the Broncos in scoring and rebounding, with 21.3 and 8.4 respectively. With his consistent play, he has been a key player against a variety of defensive schemes and double-teams.
“I have been double-teamed all year, but this is not different from any other year. On offense, I play to get the team the best possible shot. This doesn’t change based upon defense. There are games where Coach (Gavers) will have a game plan that changes how I am utilized, but even these plans don’t change how I play,” Hiscock said.
While noting that Hiscock has been great individually, Gavers was quick to acknowledge how much respect he has for all of his players and their toughness throughout this season.
“We got a lot of guys with toughness that have a lot of pride in what they’re doing. We’ve had some gut-wrenching losses and very difficult defeats, but every day they come back with the right mindset. They come back with the right mentality. It’s a group that plays for one another, not with one another. There’s a big difference in the two when you play for somebody versus just playing with somebody,” Gavers said.
While the first half of the conference season featured three games in which the Broncos lost by under three points, HC has played better in the last three games, resulting in double-digit wins over Midland and 17th-ranked Mount Marty in the GPAC, then defeating 10th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan.
HC is near the bottom in the GPAC in three-point shooting percentage, making just 34 percent. However, in the last three games, they have shot 42 percent from downtown.
In the upset win over Mount Marty, the team witnessed a career-high performance from First-Year Mason Hiemstra and Lipovsky. Hiemstra finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Lipovsky had 34 points, including eight three-pointers.
“It’s a feeling that I feel like only basketball players would know because it’s like throwing the ball into an ocean. When you feel like you can just throw it up there and it goes in, it’s a surreal feeling,” said Lipovsky, who came into the game shooting just 32 percent from three-point range.
On Wednesday, HC traveled to Mitchell, South Dakota to play 10th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan Tigers. The Broncos won 73-64, behind Hiemstra’s new career-high of 24 points, while Senior Zach Kitten had 14 points and 10 rebounds, his first career double-double.
“The rest of the season we are going to take it one game at a time and give every game our best effort. The GPAC is a great conference so we may not always come out on top, but we are going to play hard every game,” Hiscock said.
The Broncos will host Briar Cliff University on Jan. 25 at 4 p.m., approximately 30 minutes following the conclusion of the women’s game. HC has eight games left on the schedule, with only two of them against ranked teams. They will get a boost from their hometown-faithful as six of those games are at home.