Calvin Men's Basketball Dunks Finlandia in Season Opener

Calvin Men's Basketball Dunks Finlandia in Season Opener

By Gina de Haan

The Calvin men's basketball season opened its season on Friday night with a 90-49 nonconference victory over Finlandia University.

Under the direction of veteran head coach Kevin Vande Streek, the Knights come into the season looking to bounce back from a 10-15 campaign last year that saw Calvin finish in sixth in the final MIAA regular season standings. In the MIAA preseason coaches' poll released last week, Calvin was picked to finish fifth.

"I thought we did a good job today," said Vande Streek. "We've continued to make progress here in this first month, and today was no exception."

Calvin sophomore post Austin Bykerk (Jenison, MI/Unity Christian), a newcomer from Dordt College, got the Knights on the board first, scoring a layup 15 seconds into the game. The Lions came back down and scored on the other end, courtesy of a jump shot by Austin Carlson. The two teams exchanged points and the score was tied at 9 just under four minutes into the game.  

The Knights went on a 12-2 run, fueled by six points by senior Michael Welch (Stevensville, MI/Lakeshore HS). Finlandia head coach Mike O'Donnell called timeout in an attempt to halt Calvin's momentum, but the Knights' outscored the Lions 6-2 coming out of the break to take a 27-13 with 8:16 remaining in the first half.

In the five minutes of play before halftime, Bykerk scored six points for the Knights, including two dunks.

Calvin rolled into halftime with a comfortable 47-20 lead. In the first half, Bykerk led the Knights with 12 points. Senior Cam Denney (Bluffton, IN/Norwell HS) was a key first half playmaker with seven points, eight assists and nine rebounds, including three offensive boards.

The teams went back-and-forth to start the second half, but the Knights continued to build on their lead as senior Nick Kronemeyer (Hamilton, MI/Hamilton HS) scored four straight points to put Calvin up by 28 (26-54), the largest lead of the game.

With just over 13 minutes left to play, the Knights would string together seven consecutive points. A triple by junior Mike Siegel (Fremont, MI/Fremont HS) capped off the run to give the Knights a 63-31 advantage.

The Lions were unable to answer the Knights' offense that went on a 13-5 run in the final five minutes of play. Calvin would claim a 90-59 victory.

Denney earned a double-double in the season opener win, snagging 13 boards and dishing out 10 assists.

"I thought Cam had a phenomenal first half," said Vande Streek. "His play really sent the tone. He's done a great job of leading and speaking up. The addition of Austin [Bykerk] has allowed Cam to move to the perimeter more, so he can contribute from out there as well."

Bykerk led the Knights in scoring, finishing with 16 points (8-14 FG, 0-1 FT). Siegel and Kronemeyer followed, adding 12 and 10 points, respectively. Mike Welch finished with eight points and eight rebounds. Calvin's bench contributed 55 points, as 16 Knights saw playing time.

Freshman Matt Trewhella (Granger, IN/Penn HS) led all players with four steals. The Knights outrebounded the Lions 54-37.

Tomorrow afternoon, the Knights will continue its opening weekend as they host a tough No. 18 Augustana College team.

 "They're used to winning. They're strong, big, athletic kids. They're well-disciplined and extremely well coached," said Vande Streek. "We're excited to play them and we're going to learn things. If we do things well possession-wise, we'll have some success, but if we don't, they'll make us pay the price."