This weekend, the Prairie Fire basketball teams take a trip up to Wisconsin for Midwest Conference contest.
On Friday, they face the Buccaneers of Beloit College and on Saturday they will take on the Vikings of Lawrence University.
Back on Dec. 4, Knox’s men’s basketball team played host to the Vikings and lost: 84-68. On Dec. 5, the men defeated Beloit by a score of 71-63.
Sophomore guard Ben Wetherbee has high hopes for the upcoming trip to the Badger state.
“I really think that we have played the toughest part of our schedule,” he said. “There are a bunch of winnable games coming up. The whole team is coming back next year so we need to finish strong and have a good taste in our mouth for next season.”
On the women’s side, the Prairie Fire defeated Lawrence on Dec. 4 by a score of 76-65 and a day later lost to the Buccaneers, 73-49.
Sophomore forward Kelly Ricketts is hopeful the women’s team can get a couple of wins this weekend.
“With Beloit, they have already beaten us and we have to try to improve on that and get a win,” she said. “It will be important to get a win against Lawrence as well.”
Two wins vs. IC
On Tuesday, both the men’s and women’s teams defeated Illinois College.
The men (2-15, 2-8) defeated the Blue Boys: 67-63. The Fire trailed by eight at the half, 39-31, but returned the second half with stellar defense, holding the Blue Boys to 28 percent shooting in the second half. Knox shot 76 percent from the free throw line, including a six-for-six run at the end to seal the win. Wetherbee led the Fire in scoring with 19 points. Sophomore Tanner Carlson had 18 points, three rebounds, and three assists. Sophomore Joe Kozak had nine points and nine rebounds in the game.
“Coming in we didn’t have any reason to have confidence,” Wetherbee said about the game versus the Blue Boys. “It was good to see the guys come together as a team.”
The Knox women (8-9, 3-7) soundly beat Illinois College by a score of 68-49. The Prairie Fire trailed at halftime, but came back to take the lead with 11:39 remaining in the game. From there on in, it was all Knox, as the Fire outscored the Lady Blues 25-7 from that point on.
Junior Jenny Haskell led the Fire with 22 points. She also had seven steals, five assists and two rebounds. Senior Kate Moon and sophomore Lynn Mueller were also boons for Knox’s offense, scoring 15 and 14 points, respectively. The Prairie Fire was also tough on defense. Senior Ali Hidden led the team with seven rebounds. She also had a block and a steal in the game.
“It was definitely a big win for us,” Ricketts said. “Anytime you can get a conference win is good. Winning by 19 points or whatever it was, we are happy with that.”
In beating Illinois College, it was the first time the women had beaten IC since Jan. 7, 2004. It was the first time since Feb. 5, 2008 that the men had defeated IC.
Scots sweep Fire
On Saturday, Jan. 30, the Fighting Scots of Monmouth College came to the ‘Burg and swept the Prairie Fire.
The Knox men were led against the Fighting Scots by great performances from Kozak (19 points, 11 rebounds), Wetherbee (13 points, four rebounds, two assists), and sophomore Jacob Lewis (ten points, five rebounds), but still fell, 80-73. The Fire was behind at one point by as much as 19 points, but came within four points with three minutes left in the game. Unfortunately, Monmouth then put the game out of reach.
“We knew coming in that it would be a real close game,” Wetherbee said about the contest versus the Fighting Scots. “They just made plays down the stretch and beat us.”
The Fire women led Monmouth going into the half, 32-30, but only shot seven percent from the field in the second half. The Prairie Fire also turned the ball over 25 times in the second half, leading to a 61-45 loss. Knox was led in scoring by Krystyna Williams with nine points. She also had seven rebounds and two steals.
“We were disappointed after the Monmouth game but what can you do?” Ricketts said.
Between the women’s and men’s games versus Monmouth, the 1974-75 MWC Championship men’s basketball team and their coach Harley Knosher were honored.
The 1974-75 team finished with an overall record of 16-7 and went 12-4 in the Midwest Conference. Although they lost 67-64 to Augustana College in the first round, they are the only basketball team to have ever represented Knox in the NCAA Division III National Championship tournament. In 2005, the team was inducted into the Knox-Lombard Athletic Hall of Fame.
Women break four records
Back on Tuesday, Jan. 26, the Fire women’s basketball team defeated the Red Lions of Lincoln Christian University: 88-20. In the victory, the team broke Knox team records in four different categories including largest margin of victory — a new winning margin of 68 points. The previous record was set last year against Lincoln Christian when Knox won by 59 (77-18).
In the win, the Fire made 41 field goals erasing the previous mark of 39 against Florida Christian (2000-01). Knox shot 100 percent, five-for-five, from the charity stripe surpassing the previous mark of 93.8 percent. The Fire also committed the least number of fouls in team history receiving only five in the game. Previously the record low had been nine against both Principia College (2008-09) and Coe College (1990-91).