Men make case for conference title in OT


Willie Brown, The Chart

Patrick Hester goes up for a slam dunk in Wednesday’s game against Washburn. Southern won in overtime, 85-79 to move to 21-5.

Robert Corn and his team took another step towards repeating as MIAA champions Wednesday night.

This time around, however, the team faces a bit more of an uphill challenge.

Wednesday’s overtime win over Washburn vaulted them into second place by themselves in the conference standings.

Sitting above the Lions is Northwest Missouri, who will host Southern in the final game of the regular season on Feb. 25.

“Well, we still would love to win a conference championship,” Corn said. “The only way that we’d have a chance is to win out.

“And then we’d still love to go to the NCAA tournament and not put everything where we’d have to win the conference tournament in order to do so, so each and every game is very important.”

Southern’s best shot at advancing to the South Central Regional Tournament at this point is having help from Northwest in losing a game or two heading into the season finale, which could wind up deciding the conference champion.

If the Lions are unable to win the MIAA’s regular season title, they are still on pace to go into the postseason tournament as the second seed, where they will have the chance to win the tournament, qualifying as an automatic bid to the NCAA Division-II tournament.

Southern however must not get ahead of itself and look toward next Saturday’s game against Northwest and overlook tomorrow’s senior day matchup with last season’s postseason tournament champion Fort Hays.

“You always like to see your seniors go out on a positive note,” Corn said. “Hopefully we can play well and send those guys out the way they deserve to go, and then hopefully next Saturday when we go to Northwest there will be a lot riding on that game.”

Last Saturday, Southern snuck by Emporia State on the road by a score of 61-57.

The Lions were aided by 28 points from senior center Keane Thomann, and though they only shot 36 percent from the floor in the game, out-rebounded Emporia and committed fewer turnovers.

Southern had five players score in double-digts in Wednesday’s win.

Thomann led the team with 22, Jason Adams and Jordan Talbert contributed 14 each, Marquis Addison knocked in 13 and Patrick Hester had 10.

Corn credited Thomann, calling him a silent leader and one of the program’s most improved players from the beginning to the end of a career.

“He has really developed into a heck of a basketball player,” Corn said. “If you look at where he has come from from his freshman year to now, I don’t know if we’ve had anybody in the program that has made that type of improvement in a four-year stretch.

“Every year he’s taken a big step forward and after last year I wasn’t sure whether he’d have another big step but he’s taken another big step and he’s playing with a lot of confidence.”