Bluffton seeking fourth championship trophy in Fifth Annual McDonald's of Bluffton Holiday TournamentBy Tim Stried
December 28, 2002
Setting the scene
Bluffton hosts the Fifth Annual McDonald's of Bluffton Holiday Tournament on Monday and Tuesday as the Beavers aim for a fourth championship trophy in this event. BC was a perfect 6-0 in the first three years of the McDonald's tournament but last year saw Bridgewater College (Va.) take a 92-68 win in the opening night's game to hand the Beavers their first loss in this event. Bridgewater went on to finish 17-9 last season behind All-American Kyle Williford, who is now playing in Germany, while Bluffton finished 10-16 behind two-time all-league selection Rod Overmyer, who is now playing in France. Bluffton defeated Millikin (Ill.) 85-82 in last year's consolation game, so the Beavers are 7-1 all-time in the McDonald's tournament.
Coach Guy Neal
Bluffton is led by 14th-year head coach Guy Neal, who ranks fourth on the BC all-time wins list with 138 victories. He is closing in on leaders Ken Mast (140), A.C. Burcky (141) and Glenn Snyder (150) and Neal's six winning seasons are second only to Burcky's total of seven.
Season record, this date in history
Bluffton is now 3-6 overall this season after last Saturday's 78-74 overtime win against Denison University. BC is in the midst of a four-game home stand, which will end with Tuesday's game. Since 1968 (when game dates are available) Tuesday's game will be just the second New Year's Eve game in BC history. In 1968 Bluffton was defeated 80-79 in overtime at Bethel College (Kansas) in the Mennonite Classic. When Bluffton takes on Madonna Monday night it will be BC's ninth game on Dec. 30 since 1968. Bluffton is 8-3 in those games, including a perfect 2-0 mark in Founders Hall.
Bluffton trailed Denison for most of the second half but came back to tie the game at the end of regulation and force overtime, where the Beavers outscored the Big Red 13-9 to take a 78-74 win last Saturday afternoon in Founders Hall. Senior Mike Leimeister scored 31 points and senior Marcus Bixler scored a career-high 19 points, with nine of those points coming in the extra period as he hit a 3-pointer and made six free throws. Sophomore Bryce Beilharz scored seven points and tied a career high with four rebounds, while senior Derek DeNero scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds. Bluffton, which saw their first overtime action of the season, committed a season-low seven turnovers and converted 22-of-29 free throw attempts. The win was the first of the season for BC when being out-rebounded by their opponent (now 1-6 when that happens).
Bluffton is led by senior Mike Leimeister, who leads the HCAC in scoring (23.8 ppg) and ranks third in rebounding (7.7 rpg). Junior Brad Boyles ranks 16th in scoring (10.6 ppg) and ranks second in field goal percentage (.617), while senior Derek DeNero ranks 20th in scoring (10.2 ppg). Senior Marcus Bixler leads the HCAC in steals (2.3 spg) and ranks third in assists (4.0 apg).
3-point streak continues
Bluffton has made at least one 3-point field goal in 251 consecutive games. The last time BC didn't make a 3-pointer was Jan. 6, 1993 when BC was 0-1 from behind the arc against Adrian in Founders Hall but won anyway 64-57.
Record in Founders Hall
Bluffton is now 285-263 (.520) in Founders Hall since the facility opened in 1952. BC is 60-45 (.571) in Founders Hall since the start of the 1993-94 season.
Home for the holidays good for BC
Since the start of the 1996-97 season, Bluffton is 21-6 (.778) in Founders Hall in the month of December. BC was 19-1 (.950) at home in December from 1996-97 through 2000-01, but is 2-5 (.286) in their last six games.
Next up for Bluffton
Following the tournament, Bluffton will travel to Adrian College (Mich.) on Saturday at 1 p.m. The game can be heard live on WDOH 107.1 FM and over the internet at www.wdoh.com.