National Exposure

Dancin' in Branson
Friday, March 9

Friday Postgame Celebration

Dale Vander Berg again greets fans at the door on behalf of Peoples Bank.

 

Defender paraphernalia is on sale again. Barb and John Baas man the tables.

 

A single Northwestern College straggler is allowed inside only because his spouse is a Defender.

 

Deb Hulstein greets people inside the front door.

 

TJ Malone lends an ear to Provost Eric Hoekstra's congratulations.

 

More victories means there's more opportunity for merchandise sales.

 

Two more names are drawn for free t-shirts. President Zylstra relays his interaction with the president of the College of the Ozarks who said, "I didn't really care who won this tournament once we were out, but now that Dordt is paying to have celebrations at the Keeter Center with every game, we want you to win it all."

 

The Advancement Office team works on plans for another gathering on Monday, should one be needed. The details for an 11 a.m. Saturday pregame celebration are already squared away.

Game Two

Coach Hiemstra looks on as the jump ball initiates the first game of the second round.

 

Cliff Warner gets the zero off the scoreboard by nailing a three-pointer.

 

Austin Katje had his stroke working as several early threes splashed through against a center-heavy zone.

 

During Trevor Wolterstorff's first rest, Coach Hiemstra shares some quick tips.

 

Jordan Vogel earns several trips to the line on strong, contested inside play that seems to result in a torn apparel.

 

A deep three that surprises the defense has Austin Katje really zeroed in.

 

Midway through the first half, TJ Malone enters the game to give Cliff Warner his only breather all game.

 

In his four plus minutes TJ fills in admirably, garnering two steals, a rebound, and a point.

 

The two starting guards celebrate another three. Between the two of them, they would finish the game 10 for 20 in that department. The threes help offset 14 first-half turnovers, and the Defenders enter halftime with a 17 point cushion.

 

The regular five take the court to start the second half.

 

A cold start to the second half has the coaching staff looking for answers.

 

The comfortable lead quickly evaporates giving Dale and all Defender fans severe anxiety.

 

Coach Douma's preferred method for every timeout is a coach huddle followed by team instruction.

 

To help ease her own anxiety, Barb Mellema makes small talk with several people on the floor level during the last few minutes of the game.

 

After a thunderous Jordan Vogel dunk when victory seems nearly inevitable, the team wrangles themselves toward the sideline for a last timeout.

 

The final buzzer. A quick celebration. Then hand-shaking.

 

A jaunt to the locker room allows for some loud celebrating to begin.

 

Friday Pregame

After a breakfast next door to the hotel at Denny's, the team boards the bus around 7:20 to leave for their game.

 

An 8:30 a.m. game means different routines for everyone. But the Defender faithful arrive early and in large numbers, showing no signs of morning sluggishness.

 

The atmosphere is giddy, but that always seems to describe Dave Eekhoff. His old hat still fits like a glove.

 

Curtis Van Grouw and friends recreate "Timeouts with Coach Douma and Players." Ross catches them in the act; he can only smile and shake his head.

 

Warm ups have a different feel at 8:00 in the morning, but the players appear fresh and focused.

 

An estimated 500 Dordt fans show up to fill a majority of both sides of the bottom sections of seats.

 

Golf Coach Mark Christians arrives, with his players scattered through the stands as well. A month and half ago it was time for him to plan his team's annual spring break trip. Liking his odds of the basketball team making it to nationals, he schedules his golf team's excursion to coincide. After the game, the golf team plays at the Payne Stewart Golf Club, named the best course in Missouri for 2012 by Golfweek.

 

Trevor Wolterstorff assumes position in the middle of the huddle to give some last motivational words.

 

While the starters huddle just prior to tip off, the crowd is led by the students' cross-court "I-THINK-THAT-WE-WILL-WIN" chant.