Sold out final: MC men to host Mount Union in showdown game

Marietta College was expecting to be on the road Saturday after dodging an upset and beating Wilmington College, 111-106, in triple overtime in an Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament semifinal at Ban Johnson Thursday night.

But Mount Union foiled those plans – fortunately – by defeating top-seeded Capital University, 63-59, in Thursday’s other OAC semi.

“I can’t believe that (Mount Union winning), first of all,” said MC head coach Jon VanderWal, whose second-seeded Pioneers (19-7) are scheduled to host the No. 4 Purple Raiders (13-14) in an OAC Tournament final at 7;30 p.m. Saturday. At stake will be an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tourney.

“Well, obviously we’re really excited that we get to stay home,” VanderWal continued. “We don’t have to go to Capital.

“I don’t know what’s more shocking this win (vs. Wilmington), or the fact that we now get to host the tournament championship. It’s going to be wild and a lot of fun. We’re just really excited about it.”

As of 3:30 p.m. Friday, Marietta College’s allotment of tickets for the championship game was sold out.

A limited number of unclaimed “will call” tickets may be available for purchase at the door beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Fans without tickets are encouraged to follow WCMO-TV’s live video broadcast locally on Suddenlink’s channel 15 and online at http://ustre.am/OzKM.

Marietta had Mount’s number twice during regular-season play, winning 97-90 at Ban Johnson Arena on Jan. 9 and 93-81 in Alliance on Feb. 13.

Thing is, the Pioneers also had defeated Wilmington twice.

“We’ve got to respect every team, you know,” said MC point Tyler Hammond, who scored a career-high 27 points against the Quakers. “I mean, we’d beat Wilmington twice, and they almost had us (Thursday).

“It could be the same thing Saturday. So, we’ve just got to enjoy our win (Thursday), focus up on Mount Union Friday and Saturday, and just go in there with a lot of confidence, and come out with a ‘W’ hopefully.”

MC is expected to start Jacob (J.O.) Owens, J.J. Martin, Jason Humphrey, Scott Kimmey, and Hammond against the Purple Raiders.

Mount Union will probably counter with Justen Little, Cody Dillon, Nate Jacubec, Steve Griffin, and former Williamstown standout Matt Kiger.

Against Cap, Griffin was the only Raider to score in double figures, netting 15 markers. Kiger added nine, and Dillon, Jacubec, and non-starter J.J. Gillespie had eight apiece. “They’re a good team,” VanderWal said. “They’re young, but they’re really talented.

“They’re got a lot of firepower. We’re going to have to go out and guard them on the perimeter, and we’re going to have to play well.”

This winter, Marietta is 12-2 at Ban Johnson Arena, but….

“You know, it’s that time of year that the team that plays the best that day is going to win,” VanderWal said.