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IWU men, Marian women tabbed Crossroads favorites

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

The Crossroads League released its preseason men’s and women’s basketball polls, along with it prognostication for all-league teams Wednesday, and both Grant County universities and all four teams appear ready to be factors in the race for the 2018-19 league titles.

The team standings and all-league teams are voted on by the league’s 10 men’s and women’s coaches and Indiana Wesleyan sophomore Kyle Mangas along with Taylor senior Kendall Bradbury have been tabbed preseason men’ and women’s Players of the Year.

Bradbury had a standout junior campaign that saw her rewrite part of the Trojans all-time record book by setting the single-game scoring record (41 points against Olivet Nazarene, Dec. 16), single-season scoring record with 810 points and also established a new single-season record for field goals made with 296. She ranked second in the nation in scoring (23.1) and 11th in rebounding (10.2) and earned spots on both the All-Crossroads League and NAIA Division II All-American first teams.

Mangas exploded into the Crossroads League in unprecedented fashion, becoming the first player in league history to win both Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. Mangas helped guide the Wildcats to the program’s third national championship in five seasons and also garnered selection as a NAIA DII first team All-American. Mangas was also national tournament MVP.

The Indiana Wesleyan men, the defending regular season and postseason Crossroads League champion, will undoubtedly be ranked No. 1 when the first national polls are released Oct. 22, as the Wildcats return nearly all of its production from its championship run while adding a stellar recruiting class into the mix.

The Wildcats received nine of 10 first place votes and 99 ratings points overall to be tabbed as the preseason league favorite. Marian received the lone remaining first-place vote and stands second to IWU with 90 points. Mount Vernon Nazarene (70), Saint Francis (65), Bethel (64), Taylor (52), Huntington (40), Spring Arbor (33), Grace (26) and Goshen (11) fill out the preseason poll for the men.

IWU’s Evan Maxwell, a second team all-league performer and honorable mention All-American, received a preseason first team nod along with Wes Stowers and Regginald Kissoonlal of Marian and Paul Marandet from Spring Arbor.

Taylor’s junior backcourt tandem of Ryan Robinson and Mason Degenkolb were named to the All-Crossroads League third team.

 Defending women’s league champion Marian received eight first place votes and and 97 rating points to earn the favorite’s nod over Saint Francis (2 first place, 81 total). Indiana Wesleyan (80) and Taylor (79), both national tourney qualifiers last season, are a close third and fourth. Rounding out the rankings are: Huntington (63), Grace (47), Mount Vernon Nazarene (42), Spring Arbor (26), Bethel (23) and Goshen (12).

IWU Senior Nicole Ignasiak joined Bradbury, Marion High School alum Dejah Cyrus of Marian, Kara Gerka of Saint Francis and Sarah Fryman of Huntington on the preseason all-league first team.

Eastbrook graduate Brooke Saylor of Huntington was named second team. Anne Secrest, who transfered to IWU from NCAA DI Youngstown State, along with Taylor’s Aubrey Wright were placed on the third team. 

IWU’s Carly Lange, Taylor’s Abby Buchs and Grace’s Vironnica Drake, another Marion High School product, all received honorable mention.