Ryne Oshiro, Staff Writer
The Saint Martin’s University men’s basketball team had their first ever tournament win in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) championship tournament, and their first ever second place finish as well. With the hopes of the Saints on the brink of capturing that ever so elusive tournament championship win, they are hoping to build off the success of last season and take on this upcoming one with confidence and a “one game at a time” mentality.
Coming off a remarkable season last year, the Saints finished third in the regular season, and after a last-second floater in the semi-finals by leading scorer Luke Chavez, they found themselves in the championship game. Their opponent was the Western Oregon Wolves, which boasted an All-American guard, Tanner Omilid. The Wolves went on to beat the Saints in a heartbreaker, 65-55. In a game that saw the Saints struggle in the first half of play, shooting for 23 and a mediocre 34.8 percent from the field, the team showed perseverance by coming out in the second half shooting 14-26 with a 53.8 percent field goal success rate. With a 24-8 record, the Saints benefited from an at-large bid to enter the regional tournament and faced Cal Poly Pomona. The Saints, a fifth seed, beat Cal Poly in the first game, and were then eliminated by a familiar foe in the Wolves to end their season with a 25-9 record.
With a lot of success to build off of, this summer the Saints boosted their roster by signing a 6’6” junior transfer guard in Logan Rooney, a 6’9” sophomore transfer center Marky Adams, a 6’2” true freshman in Alexis Angeles, and a 6’2” senior transfer guard, Chandler Redix. Although they lost senior Matt Dahlen to graduation, the Saints have 11 returning players currently on the 2018-2019 roster and have high hopes of looking to get back to the spot they found themselves last year: fighting for the GNAC championship. Returner Tavian Henderson was a bright spot for the Saints, leading the conference with a 72 percent field goal percentage, according to Saints Athletics. Chavez, the hero of the Saints victory in the semi-finals, also led the team in scoring, with an average of 16 points per game.
For senior Rhett Baerlocher, this upcoming season will always be based on the game that is in front of them. Baerlocher says he treats every game with as much importance as the next and previous one. “In the GNAC, there’s never a free night,” he stated. The Saints had just completed their first workout of the day and looked anxious towards the first official practice in the later afternoon as well. Baerlocher returns as one of two four-year starters, alongside power-forward Jordan Kitchen. Baerlocher was also among the four players who shot over 40 percent from the three-point line last year. Among him were EJ Boyce, Jared Matthews, and Luke Chavez. To boost his profile even more, Baerlocher was also named to the NABC Honors Court as reported by Head Coach Alex Pribble. Kazuma Lane, Boyce, and Matthews were also among the others selected for the award. “Don’t ever take a day for granted, because I really don’t want this to end, but that’s just how it is, that’s life.” Baerlocher is one of eight seniors on the roster, as they look to start the season off right. On Oct. 24, the Saints go on the road to face Division 1 Brigham Young University and their first home game will be on Nov. 19 against Walla Walla University. The team would appreciate the support of all SMU students and family.