King Arena was packed this past Saturday for a CCIW showdown between North Park University and the Wheaton men’s basketball team, but something or someone was missing from the night. On what is commonly Senior Night for the men’s team following a dazzling Senior Night performance for the women’s team, the boys took the court without a senior on the team and no parents in the crowd to receive bouquets and take photos at halftime.
In years past, the court featured multiple star-studded seniors whose tenure at Wheaton was well remembered by many in the crowd, and their families came to share that precious moment in King.
Sophomore forward Trevor Gunter explained, “It’s a unique situation because we have nothing to celebrate, but it’s exciting because we’re not losing anyone and it’s all up from here.”
Wheaton’s young roster put together a scrappy 70 – 67 win against North Park in a game that will be well remembered by each teammate upon their own Senior Night in the years to come. This Wednesday, the boys also put together a rallying win against Illinois Wesleyan, overcoming an early deficit to finish 81-67. This victory not only extends the team’s win streak to four games, but also bumps their overall record to 12 – 11, just above .500.
Despite the lack of seniors on the squad, the boys have had no trouble locking down King Arena this year. Wins at home on Saturday and Wednesday improved Wheaton’s home record to 10-3. One area where the Thunder’s lack of senior leadership might be particularly prevalent is the away matchups with a record of 2-6. The team will end their season with two away games at Carroll and at Carthage in the upcoming week, looking to build on young talent and end the regular season with a six-game win streak.
At 8-6 and fifth in the CCIW, the Thunder are still in the hunt for the CCIW tournament. If they win out and Illinois Wesleyan loses one of their last two games to North Central or Augustana, then the Thunder will be in as the fourth seed of the tournament. The men will attempt this last push on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Carroll.