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Wildcats split doubleheader with Huntington

By Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

The Indiana Wesleyan University women’s and men’s basketball teams hosted Huntington in Crossroads League contests on Saturday afternoon in Luckey Arena.

The No. 16 women’s team dropped a 69–61 decision to the RV Foresters. The No. 5 men’s team picked up a 105–98 victory over Huntington and moved into a tie for the Crossroads League lead with Spring Arbor after the Cougars dropped their second straight game this week.

On the men’s side, Indiana Wesleyan and Huntington battled all game long in a tightly contested duel.

Much like the women’s game, the Wildcats and Foresters traded basket for basket at the start of the game. However, an 8–0 run for Huntington midway in the first half gave them a 22–16 lead.

The Wildcats would not back down, though, as they clawed their way back to a 44–44 deadlock by halftime.

Indiana Wesleyan came out of the break energized, starting the half on an 8–3 run to go up 52–47.

While Huntington would chop their deficit to as little as one point two times, the Wildcats would overpower the Foresters the rest of the way, eventually taking as large as an 18-point lead at 92–74 with 3:53 to play.

Huntington made things interesting with hot shooting down the stretch, but the comeback bid proved to be too little, too late, as Indiana Wesleyan came away with the 105–98 victory.

“We’re just a potent offense,” said Indiana Wesleyan head coach Greg Tonagel. “We can beat people a lot of different ways.”

Indiana Wesleyan received significant contributions from two of their top players, which pushed them over the top in the win.

Kyle Mangas was a force for the Wildcats, sinking a game-best 38 points to go along with eight rebounds and two assists.

“What makes Kyle special is he can do it so many ways,” Tonagel said. “He had a string where he did it from the arc and he had a string where he did it inside.”

Grant Smith also had a big day for Indiana Wesleyan, putting up 31 points.

Evan Maxwell and Joel Okafor completed the double-digit production for the Wildcats with 17 and 11 points, respectively. Maxwell reeled in a game-high nine rebounds as well.

Zac Owens paced Huntington with 24 points and a game-leading six assists.

Konner Platt poured in 21 points of his own, while Peyton West drained 19 points and grabbed a team-leading seven rebounds.

Caleb Middlesworth and Andrew Yoder finished Huntington’s double-digit output with 15 and 11 points, respectively.

On the women’s side, the game started with the teams trading punch for punch, as neither team could open up a gap of any significance through the first six minutes of action.

However, the Foresters then put together a 9–0 run to grab a 17–9 lead, which the Wildcats cut to 17–10 by the end of the quarter.

Indiana Wesleyan came out firing in the second quarter, erupting for an 8–0 run to start the frame, regaining an 18–17 lead in the process. The Foresters and Wildcats would duke it out the rest of the period, again trading basket for basket. At halftime, the scoreboard read 31–31.

The game’s third quarter brought even more of the same, with the largest stretch of the frame being just 5–0. However, Huntington did enough to edge the Wildcats in the quarter to take a 53–52 lead into the final period.

A 7–2 run to open the fourth quarter put the Foresters up 60–54, and though Indiana Wesleyan cut their deficit to just two points, Huntington then put together an 8–0 streak to put their foot down once and for all. When the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Foresters earned a 69–61 win.

“I think Huntington was incredibly passionate (and) incredibly physical,” said Indiana Wesleyan head coach Ethan Whaley. “They were just so tough. We were the opposite of that. So, tip your caps to Huntington. They were well-prepared, well-coached and they just came out and kicked our butts. I got out-coached, our leaders got out-led and we didn’t come to play. Again, tip your caps to Huntington. They were really good.”

Katie Key led Indiana Wesleyan with 20 points in the game, as well as recording one rebound, two steals and a team-best six assists.

Nicole Ignasiak followed closely behind Key with 17 points. Ignasiak hauled in a team-high 10 rebounds for a double-double and added a pair of steals to tie Key for the team lead.

Sarah Fryman dominated all game long for the Foresters, pouring in a game-best 26 points for Huntington. The Huntington native added seven rebounds, one assist and a game-high four steals to her totals.

Maddie Richer, Brooke Saylor and Sam Hammel also made big contributions for the Foresters, scoring 13, 12 and 10 points, respectively. Saylor also filled the stat sheet with two steals, three assists and game-leading totals of four blocks and 15 rebounds.

Indiana Wesleyan’s men hosts Spring Arbor on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in a contest that will likely decide the Crossroads League championship.

IWU’s women host Spring Arbor on Wedensday at 7 p.m.