It has been a struggle for the men’s basketball team this year yet again. Even with new coaches and recruits, the Lions have been deprived of wins. This last Tuesday, the Lions played NAIA’s second-ranked team, Concordia University. The Lions have won their last two games prior to the away game at the CUI Arena in Irvine, so they were ready to take on the Eagles in a confident, hopeful manner.
“I see us making the GSAC tournament and accomplishing our goal set at the beginning of the year,” junior Christopher Raybon said. “We just have to play hard for 40 minutes and just believe in each other.”
VU played hard against the Eagles, but not hard enough. By the second half, though, the Eagles moved with ease, taking advantage of 11 Vanguard turnovers and 7 offensive rebounds. The Lions attempted to make things interesting and continued to fight without losing confidence.
Key plays throughout the game revolved around GSAC Player of the Week senior forward Alex Chapman, juniors Christopher Raybon and Chris Lynch and sophomore Taylor Kelly. Unfortunately, the Lions had to go home with a loss and fell to 3-8 in GSAC play, with a score of 72-64.
The Lions had a chance to redeem themselves this last Saturday, Jan. 29, in The Pit with another tough conference game against Fresno Pacific University. Vanguard is just two games back of FPU in the current GSAC standings. The game against the Sunbirds would be a fight on the court to catch up.
The Lions struggled out in the first half, falling behind 38-25. But they picked it up second half and began to play more aggressive, getting back points and quickly catching up to the Sunbirds.
“It’s different this season as compared to previous seasons in the fact that each time we play a league opponent from now on, it’s the last time I will play them, so I want to try and leave everything on the court, not only for myself but for my fellow seniors and all my teammates,” Chapman said.
They played hard, they fought harder, but in the final minutes they were unable to take the lead, losing by a mere four points. The final score against the Sunbirds was 69-65.
“The two losses are obviously hard, but our goal is to compete and get better every day we have the chance and that’s exactly what we do. I see the Lions getting into the GSAC tournament and shocking some people. We are a team that grows each and everyday so our best basketball has yet to be played,” Kelly said.
Sitting at 5-15 overall and 3-9 in GSAC play, Vanguard is in 9th place in the conference. As for their next game, the Lions look to improve their record on Feb 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Point Loma University.