The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

February 12, 2013

Ambassadors tune up to host league meet

The Ozark Christian College men’s basketball team can avenge a couple of losses this week during the Midwest Christian College Conference Tournament on its floor.

The Ambassadors are seeded third despite an impressive overall record of 24-6.

But No. 1 seed Manhattan (Kan.) Christian (twice) and second-seeded Barclay, which prevailed on its floor at Haviland, Kan., relegated OCC to third place during the regular season.

OCC opens in the tourney at 7:45 on Thursday night against Nebraska Christian. The OCC women challenge third-seeded Barclay at 6.

Top two seeds in the women’s division are Manhattan and Central of Moberly.

OCC men’s coach Chris Lahm insisted on Tuesday that revenge isn’t the major reward available for the Ambassadors.

“It’s a great way to prepare for the region tournament (next week at OCC),” Lahm said. “Plus, we haven’t been the host in, I believe, four years.

“Players like visiting with each other. They get to know each other. They find out that some of the guys are nice,” Lahm said with a laugh.

OCC won its 24th game by holding off Central Bible 76-71 on Monday night in Springfield.

“We tried to give it away,” Lahm said. “We had a 12-point lead with three minutes left. But we had some turnovers and bad shot selection (down the stretch).”

Cameron Woodring scored 21 points for OCC. Other double-figure scorers were Kendall Wingert (16), Kyle Wicklund (14) and Darrin Chitwood (11). Wicklund added 10 rebounds and Zac Hill had six assists.

Wicklund, who’s shooting 67 percent from the field, is averaging 21.7 points and 11 rebounds.

Hill, a transfer from Moberly Community College, is adding averages of 12.5 points, 6.5 boards and 4.4 assists.

Wingert is adding averages of 10.8 points and 4 assists. Woodring, a 41 percent marksman from 3 and 57.7 overall, is averaging 10 points and Chitwood 9.5 points.

“We’re shooting 51.7 percent as a team from the field,” Lahm said. “It certainly helps when your leader (Wicklund) is at 67.”

The OCC-Nebraska winner faces the Barclay-Calvary survivor at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in a semifinal.

His 24th win, Lahm said, is one away from a personal best achieved by the OCC women in 2000-01. Lahm said the late Charlie Williams guided the OCC men to a 39-6 record in 1989-90.

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