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Local colleges

Photo courtesy the University of Saint Francis
Kayla Drake and Saint Francis finish the regular season at home today.
On campus

Cougars not hip to a flip

– Heads or tails?

Home or road?

Tournament champs or runners-up – or worse.

After a 3 1/2 -month grind, the immediate fate of Saint Francis’ women’s basketball team could come down to a coin flip.

Should the Cougars win their last regular-season game today, and Indiana Wesleyan does the same, the two teams will finish tied for first place in the Crossroads League. And since they each beat the other to cancel the No. 2 tiebreaker, a coin flip at 6 p.m. today at Taylor University will determine who will get the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage for the conference tournament that begins Tuesday.

“It’s very, very frustrating,” Saint Francis coach Gary Andrews said. “They should (determine) it on point differential, how high you rank, on coaches’ vote – something other than a coin flip.”

Fifth-ranked Saint Francis (26-3, 15-2 Crossroads League) finishes its regular season at home today against Mount Vernon Nazarene (8-20, 5-12), and No. 1 Indiana Wesleyan (27-2, 15-2) plays host to Goshen (3-26, 1-16).

“Not only is it the home court (advantage), but probably playing Bethel in the semifinals,” Andrews said. “It may not come down to that, but Bethel’s a very good team. We have a lot of other good teams, but (No. 13) Bethel (23-6, 13-4) has beaten both of us.”

No matter if Saint Francis wins or loses the coin flip, it will be home Tuesday to either Mount Vernon Nazarene or Marian (16-12, 6-11). The Cougars beat Marian on Wednesday 78-57 behind Kayla Drake’s 34 points.

The men’s league tournament begins Wednesday, and Scott LaCross’ Cougars’ opponent is still undecided.

Going into today’s home finale against Mount Vernon Nazarene (11-18, 3-14), Saint Francis (17-12, 9-8) is sixth in the league – one game ahead of Spring Arbor and one game behind Marian. The current matchup has Saint Francis playing at No. 3 seed Bethel.

“We’ve proven throughout the year we can beat anybody, but on the other end, we can lose to anybody in our conference,” LaCross said.

“A week and a half ago we go up to Bethel and beat Bethel (80-79). We struggle for the first 11 minutes of that game. It was 17-4 with 9:22 to go in the first half, and we score 80 points to beat them. Then we beat Indiana Wesleyan (24-5, 13-4) by 16 (89-73) at our place. We’re capable of beating good teams and getting hot.”

Also playing in the men’s and women’s tournaments are Grace (20-8, 12-5 men; 18-11, 9-8 women) and Huntington (16-13, 7-10 men; 16-12, 8-9 women).

Wednesday, the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference tournament begins with the women’s portion, and the men will begin first-round play Thursday.

Indiana Tech’s women’s team (13-16, 11-10) is in sixth place, and the men’s team is fourth before its home game today against first-place Davenport.

“We’re going to play Cornerstone either way,” Tech men’s coach Al Grushkin said.

Cornerstone (19-10, 13-8) could claim the No. 4 seed with a combination Indiana Tech loss and victory over second-place Lourdes (21-7, 16-5).

The WHAC men’s championship game is Feb. 25, and the women’s title game is Feb. 26.

Athletes of note

Indiana Tech bowlers Jaiden Metzger (Snider) and Tony Henry (Bishop Dwenger) were named to the All-WHAC first team after they led the Warriors to second place in the recent conference tournament. Metzger was also named the league’s player of the year. … University of Indianapolis junior Klay Fiechter (Norwell) was named football’s Great Lakes Valley Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Fiechter was a unanimous first-team all-conference selection. He set school records in rushing yards (1,475), rushing TDs (19), total TDs (21), points scored (126), all-purpose yards (2,237) and punt return average (21.3). He also carried a 3.94 grade-point average in the field of exercise science and pre-physical therapy.

Steve Warden covers area colleges for The Journal Gazette. He may be reached by email at, by phone at 461-8477, or by fax at 461-8648.