Pioneers’ basketball teams need some help

Marietta College needs to win its next two road games, and then get some help if it is to finish atop the Ohio Athletic Conference men’s basketball standings.

The Kole Vivian-coached MC women are in a similar situation, but have both games at home.

First up for the men is Muskingum University at 7 p.m. Wednesday and the OAC’s leading scorer Marcus Dempsey, who is currently averaging 29.9 points per game.

Last month (Jan. 3) at the BanJo, the Pioneers (18-5 overall, 12-4 OAC) defeated the Fighting Muskies, 104-86, and “limited” Dempsey to 31 points. Recently, the 6-foot-1 sophomore standout was honored for the second time this season as the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Division III National Players of the Week for the week ending January 28

“We’re really going to have to be ready for Dempsey,” said 11th-year MC head coach Jon VanderWal. “Going into Muskingum is going to be an absolute dogfight, and we’re going to have to be ready to go.”

VanderWal has good reason to consider the Muskingum (7-9, 9-14) a very dangerous opponent. On Jan. 27, the Muskies upset OAC first-place and nationally-ranked John Carroll University, 112-103, in New Concord.

MC is expected to start Dillon Young, Kyle Dixon, Avery Williams, Mel Shuler, and Mike Hall, all of whom got the nod against Wilmington College on Senior Day last Saturday at Ban Johnson Arena.

Then, Marietta plays at Ohio Northern University at 3 p.m. Saturday. The Polar Bears are third in the OAC with an 11-5 mark (16-7 overall).

MC beat ONU, 90-86, at the BanJo Jan. 6.

“We’re not worried about Ohio Northern at all,” VanderWal said. “I mean, we can’t even begin to think about them.”

Meanwhile, VanderWal and his team will be rooting for Heidelberg University and Capital University to upset John Carroll this week. The Blue Streaks hold the tiebreaker with both Marietta and Ohio Northern, because they haven’t lost to either school this winter.

The OAC second-place MC women (20-3, 13-3) will be seeking the school record for single wins in a season when they host Muskingum (6-17, 2-14) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The 1989-90 squad posted a 20-7 overall mark.

The Pioneers beat Muskingum, 80-66, in New Concord Jan. 3.

Marietta’s probable starters will be Brooke “BB” Borich, Amisha Herd, Corrie Burkhardt, Shay Lett, and Jenna Andersen. Both Borich and Herd are 1,000-point-plus career scorers.

Then, MC is slated to host first-place and nationally-ranked Ohio Northern University (20-3, 14-2) in its regular-season finale at 3 p.m. Saturday. The Pioneers suffered their first setback of the campaign to the Polar Bears, 72-57, in Ada Jan. 6.

Meanwhile, Vivian and his team will be hoping that Otterbein (15-8, 11-5) upsets Ohio Northern on Wednesday.

Incidentally, the Polar Bears were upset at John Carroll University (6-17, 4-12), 68-66, last Saturday.