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Cougars lock first berth to Crossroads postseason

With an upset win over the eighth ranked Bethel (Indiana) Pilots on Saturday, the MVNU men’s basketball team secured a guaranteed winning record for the first time since the 2010-2011 season.

With another win Tuesday over Grace (Indiana), the Cougars are 17-12 with an 8-9 conference record.

It’s no secret that the program has struggled since joining the Crossroads League in the 2011-2012 season, but the team has experienced a renaissance this year under first year head coach Jared Ronai. In addition to the winning record, the team will participate in the Crossroads League Tournament for the first time.

With a system founded on defense and rebounding, the two elements of the game Coach Ronai preaches endlessly, the Cougars have managed to contend in the toughest conference season they’ve ever had to face. With four currently ranked members and nine of the 10 teams either ranked or receiving votes at some point during the season, the Crossroads League arguably is the strongest conference in NAIA Division II this year.

The Cougars’ success this season has been a true team effort as different players have contributed to lead the squad to victory in each contest. Some games, it’s the scoring prowess of senior guard Martell Medley that has carried the Cougars.

Other times, it’s been the strong post play of freshman center Jordi Mas who makes a pretty solid case for MVNU’s most improved player this season. And then there are those games where the venerable defensive efforts of Bryan Redic or a clutch shooting performance by Joey Schmitz or Eric Roby or Trey Vaughan or the constant energy of Josh Ashwill have lifted the Cougars.

The Cougars will wrap up their regular season on Saturday at Spring Arbor at 3 p.m. Photos by Alex Schenkel and Torre Massie.

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