by Tim Miller
The Cedarville men’s basketball team will welcome Ohio Dominican to the Callan Athletic Center on Thursday night for a game that could go a long way in controlling the destiny of the Yellow Jackets’ season.
Cedarville (10-8, 7-3 G-MAC) is tied for second in the conference with the Panthers, and Thursday’s meeting is the only matchup between the two squads this season.
The Yellow Jackets have won both of their games since returning to Callan after over a month on the road. Ohio Dominican (11-6, 7-3 G-MAC) has also won its last two matchups, picking up wins over Kentucky Wesleyan and Trevecca Nazarene at home.
Cedarville is the best 3-point shooting team in the G-MAC, sniping 42 percent of its attempts this season. The Yellow Jackets are led by versatile sophomore forward Conner TenHove, who is the G-MAC’s best 3-point shooter (51 percent) and has knocked down 98 percent of his attempts from the free throw line.
Ohio Dominican is one of the best rebounding teams in the nation and can hit shots from deep as well, and TenHove said the Panthers’ success in multiple facets makes them a tough out.
“They’re a really solid team. They’re pretty balanced all over and it will be a tough matchup,” TenHove said.
The Yellow Jackets boast four players who average double digits in scoring, and senior point guard Grant Zawadzki has been the team’s glue this season. Averaging 11.8 points per game, 6.6 assists per game, and hitting 93 percent of his free throws, the Tipp City, Ohio native is playing his best basketball of the season.
Zawadzki had a career-high 13 assists in the Yellow Jackets’ win over Davis & Elkins last Saturday, and scored 19 points with eight assists in the previous game, a win over Alderson Broaddus.
“I’m just slowing down and letting the game come to me,” Zawadzki said of his sharp play. “I’m not trying to force things and looking to create things for others.”
The Panthers own the best individual rebounder in the G-MAC and sport the best rebounding split in the conference, an eye-popping 9.2 margin. Other than that number, Cedarville and Ohio Dominican are neck-and-neck in nearly every other statistical category.
Even though this comes as one of the biggest games of Cedarville’s season, head coach Pat Estepp said his players can’t afford to press and do too much.
“I think in these big games the tendency is to think you need to do something special or different,” Estepp said. “For us, it’s just stick to who we are. I think it will be a tremendous game.”
For what could be the biggest game of Cedarville’s season thus far, the Yellow Jackets hope to see as many fans as can be packed into Callan. The CU Towel Gang will have a giveaway at halftime to sweeten the deal for students who need a study break.
“We need as many people as we can get, it’s a big game,” TenHove said.
The game tips off after the Lady Jackets’ bout with Ohio Dominican, with the jump ball slated for 7:45.
Tim Miller is a junior marketing major and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face, knowing too much about supplemental insurance, and striving to perfect the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.