There is something special about basketball. There is something musical about the squeaks of shoes that glide across glossy hardwood. There is something war-like in the cheers of fans, almost like the ancient Romans filling a colosseum and chanting for their chosen victor. The atmosphere it creates is unlike any other sporting event.
The St. Olaf versus Bethel MIAC Semi-Final game on Feb. 27 began with that atmosphere. The game began with a team of Oles, each looking prepared and, without a doubt, hungry, for another victory that could take them one step closer to another MIAC championship. The crowd, all adorned in white, seemed to have an unearthly glow; united, they stood to cheer for the Oles.
The pace of the game at first was lively and quick. Each play was made with precision, and the Royals seemed to sit by and watch as the Oles made shot after shot. At the end of the first half, the Oles were up 37-35, but something had changed. Going into the second half, spectators were hoping to see a bigger gap between the scores and as the second half commenced, the gap began to emerge, but not in St. Olaf’s favor.
The second half was not played nearly as smoothly as the first. The Oles made some crucial mistakes. Bethel, becoming more aggressive, bulldozed its way to the basket and began taking more and more advantage of some of the Oles’ sloppier passes. While the Oles did take advantage of Bethel’s mistakes, it was not enough to overcome the Oles’ transitions. The first half of the game, St. Olaf did a great job of quickly transitioning from offense to defense, but during the second half, the transitions were not as sharp. The team lagged slightly behind, making a 75-67 win for Bethel possible.
While the team was defeated by Bethel, St. Olaf has been selected to play in the NCAA Division III tournament. The Oles will battle with Ohio Wesleyan in their first game on Friday, March 6.
Photo Credit: MAGGIE SHAVER/MANITOU MESSENGER