Photo by Ted Brakob
Photo by Ted Brakob
Known for high-scoring upperclassmen, the Tommie basketball team scored its way to
the top of the MIAC and won the NCAA tournament.
Returning seniors Taylor Montero, Cortez Tillman and
Ryan Saarela along with junior Grant Shaeffer helped
lead the team.
Shaeffer was recognized as MIAC Athlete of the
Week on Nov. 16 for his help leading the team to a
season opening win against UW-Eau Claire at home.
On Dec. 15, St. Thomas had a big win over UW-Stevens Point, 56-38, and the season was off to a
good start. Senior Jimmy Remke encouraged the
underclassmen to “remain patient and trust the
process,” when they were working hard during practice.
St. Thomas pushed its winning streak to 12 on
Jan. 25 and moved to 8-0 on the road after beating
Concordia-Moorhead where all five starters scored
in the double digits. Tillman was named MIAC Men’s
Basketball Athlete of the Week on Jan. 25. He was 10th
in the MIAC in scoring this season, averaging 14. 6
points per game.
The 16-game winning streak came to an end against
Augsburg on Feb. 10, but the Tommies bounced back
Feb. 13 to beat Bethel 75-59, won the MIAC title, and
secured the top seed in the MIAC tournament.
Two career highlights occurred this season. Tillman
played his 100th career game and Montero exceeded
1,000 career points.
The Tommies took an early lead in the MIAC
Championship game against St. Olaf, and were ahead
until late in the second half. The arena was full of
excited fans who kept the atmosphere buzzing, but the
Tommies lost 66-72 and were playoff runners-up.
The team qualified for the NCAA tournament, John
Tauer was named Coach of the Year and four Tommies
were named to the 15-player All-MIAC men’s basketball
team announced on March 1. The team travelled to
Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. winning 86-76
and making it into the Final Four.
During the championship game between
St. Thomas and Benedictine College, the Tommies gave
it their all. They won the NCAA Division III tournament
82-76. Four players ended the season with over 400
points: Shaeffer, Tillman, Montero and Saarela.
By Emma Bassier