The Prairie Fire men’s basketball team kicked off their second week of season with an unofficial scrimmage against Lincoln Christian College on Monday, Oct. 22. Despite it not being a regular season game, the Fire had a great turnout to watch their opening scrimmage.
The Fire played three 20-minute periods, keeping score but not recording it because it doesn’t count toward their overall record. The men won the first 20-minute scrimmage and dropped the other two.
Senior Alik Airapetyan was excited to open with his team.
“We did pretty well overall,” Airapetyan said over email. “It’s going to take some getting used to being on the court with one another but for our first scrimmage together there were some positives from it for sure.”
With 12 freshmen new to the team and only seven returners, it can be difficult to adjust to so many new guys on the squad. Airapetyan spoke to this as well.
“It’s always tough learning and adjusting to playing with so many new players but once that team chemistry is built it gets a lot easier and a lot more fun,” Airapetyan said.
After seeing so many guys pass through the program, with the introduction of seven freshmen his sophomore year, and six his junior year, this may be the most freshmen he’s seen on the team. However, he remains positive and knows they will build the chemistry soon.
Freshman Malcolm Bray had a good perspective from the freshman class.
“We did fine for a first scrimmage but we could’ve been better. Too many lapses on defense,” Bray said in an email. “We’ve been playing with each other for a month so our chemistry wasn’t bad at all, I like the new faces.”
Bray believes the chemistry is already there and is hopeful for the season.
Airapetyan spoke of his favorite moments from Monday night.
“The best moments for sure were when the bench guys came in towards the end and gave us a burst of energy to start playing better; they came out there, competed and had fun doing it which made everyone’s energy rise and have more fun,” Airapetyan said.
Freshman Nick Whitman thinks the team needs to work on plays, but other than that it was a great experience.
“Playing basketball with all of us youngsters is awesome. We have a bright future ahead of us and I am excited to see where this team can go because we have a good team with mad bench depth,” Whitman said in an email. “Everyone wants to play so it makes the competition intense to get playing time, but everyone understands that not everything is about playing time. Basketball is a team sport and every player on our team understands this which is why our team has huge potential for an amazing season.”
Whitman also noticed the crowd presence and was extremely excited to be a member of the team.
“Our bench energy was awesome and the whole gym could hear us! Everyone in the crowd was also super supportive which made me excited to play basketball,” Whitman said.
Airapetyan agrees the men performed well and hopes they have a shot at the conference tournament this season.
“We are looking good and looking forward to building on what we had last year, hopefully we can string together a lot more wins and put ourselves in position to be in the conference tournament,” Airapetyan said.
The men will have an exhibition against Western Illinois University away on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. This also won’t count towards their overall record, but the men’s first official game will be at home against Principia College on Nov. 8 at 7 p.m.