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Men earn second trip to nationals in school history

By Mike Byker

Luke Ruter has been a leader on the Defender basketball team for four years.

Luke Ruter has been a leader on the Defender basketball team for four years.

The Dordt College menís basketball team became the second basketball team in Dordt College history to qualify for a national tournament by posting a 22-9 record through the post-season Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament. The team joins the 1988 quarterfinal team as the only basketball qualifiers for the 32-team national tournament, held this year at the College of Ozarks at Point Lookout, Missouri.

The Defenders reeled off nine wins in a row early in the season to build a 10-1 record and a number four national rating at the time. Throughout the conference season, the Defenders put together a 12-6 league mark and a fourth place finish while holding a number 24 rating.

The Defenders earned a place in the GPAC finals with a semifinal win at number one seeded Sioux Falls. The title was not to be as the Defenders lost to Morningside in the championship game. The Defenders had to wait a couple hours before receiving word last Tuesday night, February 28, that they had been awarded one of nine at-large berths available to teams not gaining automatic qualification.

Jim Brinks (senior; Kalamazoo, Michigan); Brandon Haan (senior; Sioux Center, Iowa) and Luke Ruter (senior; Sioux Center, Iowa) formed the core of a team that posted the second highest win total in school history.

Brinks started thirty games for the Defenders through the GPAC tournament and had a 6.0 points per game average along with 2.6 rebounds per game.

Haan worked his way up to the top fifteen all-time in scoring and top twenty in rebounding, while earning All-GPAC second-team honors for the second year in a row with a 14.6 points-per-game average and a team high 6.7 rebounds per game.

Ruter, a starter since his freshman season, has scored over 1700 points to get to number two all-time. He also grabbed over 500 rebounds for eleventh all-time and is in the top seven in both assists and steals. The senior also made over 200 three-pointers during his career, which is a school record, and averaged 18.7 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Defenders. Ruter was named to the All-GPAC first team for the third year in a row.

Other post-season honors went to Derek Keizer (junior; Hull, Iowa) who earned All-GPAC honorable mention while averaging 6.7 points and 5.5 assists per game. Scott Van Zanten (freshman; Pella, Iowa) garnered freshman-of-the-year honors in the conference after starting all thirty-one games for the Defenders through the conference tournament. He averaged 7.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game for the Defenders this season.