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 11-10 overall, with 4-7 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 nine out of ten. The Broncos have rebounded, winning five of their last seven 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 21.9 and 8.5 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 two games, resulting in double-digit wins over Midland and 17th-ranked Mount Marty in the GPAC.
HC is currently No. 10 in the GPAC in three-point shooting percentage, making just under 34 percent. However, in the last two games, they have shot 40 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.
Up next, HC will travel to Mitchell, South Dakota, to play 10th-ranked Dakota Wesleyan tonight at 8 p.m.
“It is going to be a tough game, but we are playing well right now. If we can keep winning the effort areas (rebounding, loose balls, etc.), we should be able to win the game,” Hiscock said. “As for 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.”
HC currently has nine games left on the schedule, with three of them against ranked teams. They will get a boost from their hometown-faithful as six of those games are at home.