Fueled by the biggest home crowd of the year, the Goshen men’s basketball team turned up the intensity for their Senior Night game against the Huntington University Foresters on Saturday night. The crowd, who turned out to see off their seniors and taste the free cupcakes and Menno Tea provided by the Campus Activities Council, ended up seeing a great game as well.Goshen jumped out to an early lead and led for a majority of the game. In the second half, however, Huntington battled back to claim a lead in the closing minutes. The Foresters rode solid free throw shooting to a 12-point victory.
Jerron Jamerson, leading scorer for the Leafs, embraced his role early, scoring 4 of Goshen’s first 5 points. His effort was countered by that of Huntington’s Shane Merryman who leads the conference in scoring at 20.9 points per game. When a switch to a 2-3 zone still did not slow Merryman’s wicked spin move, Goshen resorted to simply double-teaming him in the post. While their defense slowed him, the Leafs rode strong offense to a lead that peaked at 14 points with 2 minutes and 30 seconds left in the first half. Surviving a flurry of scoring by Huntington, Goshen held a 44-35 lead at half. The Leafs countered an eight-turnover deficit in the first half with a 24-10 rebounding advantage over the taller Foresters.
Huntington didn’t slow their momentum in the start of the second half, claiming a 61-59 lead behind 13 points by Merryman in the first 8 minutes. This prompted a scintillating, back and forth 10-minute battle for the game. However, back-to-back Forester baskets sandwiching a missed 3 by Matthew Martin pushed the Huntington lead to 5 points with 1 minute remaining. Goshen’s last-ditch fouling did nothing to bring the game closer, as the Leafs went cold from the 3-point line at the most inopportune time. A strong rebounding advantage was not enough to overcome 19 Maple Leaf turnovers and 35 points from Merryman, and the Maple Leafs fell 82-70.
With 12 seconds left, Coach Chupp gave his seniors their due, subbing them out to a standing ovation. Following the game, Chupp complimented each of his seniors for their accomplishments, lauding Kyle Davis’ on-ball defense, Jan Zawadzki’s academic excellence, Tavo Parral’s hard work and Matthew Martin’s extensive minutes throughout the season. Common themes among the players’ speeches included thanking their teammates, coaches and families, as well as former teammates.