Eagles fight through with three games left

By Brandon Gibson

The men’s basketball team has scratched, clawed and fought its way through one of the toughest schedules in the country. The GLIAC offers competition like none other throughout Division II athletics, and the last four games have been no different. The Eagles played GLIAC foes Tiffin, Ohio Dominican, Grand Valley and Ferris State, landing with a record of 13-10.

The first opponent in the four-game streak was Ohio Dominican. With the Panthers having a miserable record of 3-20, the Eagles went into Columbus with a high amount of confidence. Their confidence showed through with a dominating double-digit win. Going into halftime the Eagles had a commanding lead of 37-18 and did not let go, winning 69-58.

Junior forward Evan Yates yet again added tremendously to the game with a double-double. He scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Sophomore forward Will Evans also added to the win with a double-double of his own (13 points, 13 rebounds) and redshirt freshman guard DaWuan Thomas added 16 points. The win led Ashland into its game against Tiffin on a high note.

The Tiffin Dragons came into Kates Gymnasium Feb. 4 hoping to steal a win from Ashland. The Eagles were down after halftime, but were extremely stubborn and turned a three point deficit into a five point lead in the final minutes before pulling the game out, 73-68.

Junior guard Ronnie Steward showed his leadership on the offensive end, contributing a team-high 20 points. Again, Yates (11 points and nine rebounds), Evans (16 points and eight rebounds) and Thomas (14 points, seven assists and six rebounds) had great games, each with near double-doubles.

Freshman guard T.J. Riggs came into the game in the closing minutes and contributed two key free throws to put the Dragons away in the final seconds. As a freshman, Riggs has been a key backup in the Eagles lineup, and it showed through this game with Coach Ellenwood putting his confidence in Riggs to make an impact in the final seconds. Riggs was ecstatic about the opportunity to be a game-changer and did not fail the test.

“There was a chance where I got to step in and make an impact, and I took it,” he said.

This kind of attitude has defined the Eagles this season and allowed them to fight in every game that they have played.

In both games of a Michigan road trip that included games against Grand Valley State and Ferris State, the Eagles fell by double digits. They fell behind early and were never able to catch up during the games.

Ashland fell 64-51 against Grand Valley, with Yates leading the scoring for the Eagles with 18 points and Steward adding 10 on top of that. Against Ferris State, Ashland lost by 21, losing 87-66. Yates again took over the game for the Eagles with 27 points and 12 rebounds, but the rest of the team was just not able to get going.

With three games left in the regular season, the Eagles look to finish hot and work their way into GLIAC tournament. It will not be an easy task to finish their season off on the right note, but the Eagles have a lot of determination and fight left in them and will not go down easy.