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Eagles win national championship

By Juana Jones
On April 12, 2019

On Tuesday, April 2, Kirkwood Community College held a celebration in Johnson Hall for the Kirkwood Men’s Basketball team for its national victory. This is the third time the team has won the NJCAA Division II national championship and Head Coach Bryan Petersen’s second championship. 

During the event Kirkwood Community College President Dr. Lori Sundberg, Athletic Director Doug Wagemester, and Head Coach Bryan Petersen spoke.  

Petersen said,  “Obviously we want to keep building our success and hopefully win another championship. It’s really the process and it starts now for a lot of our returning players. Getting better and a lot of those we start with our base foundation of getting our guys on the same page working hard. So, build toward another one.” 

The men’s basketball team competed for the national trophy in Danville, Ill. In the team’s first game, they played against North Central Missouri College where Kirkwood got a quick lead in the first half with 54-32. They were then able to maintain that lead and win the game, 96-66. 

In the second game, Kirkwood played Niagara County Community College. In this game, Kirkwood was also able to get an early start in the first half with a score of 35-31 and win, 80-65. 

In the semifinals, Kirkwood competed against Erie Community College. Kirkwood won with a big lead of 21 points in the first half and ending the game, 84-70. 

In the finals, the team played Johnson County Community College (JCCC) from Overland Park, Kan.  In the first half, Kirkwood was only ahead by seven points with a score of 33-26. In the second half, they fell behind a point and JCCC took the lead. Even though the JCCC players stepped up their game in the second half, it was not enough and Kirkwood took the national championship title with a final score of 64-58. 

This win will be a highlight for four team members who will be graduating and moving on to four-year institutions. 

Douglas Wilson, named NJCAA Most Valuable Player at the national tournament, will be attending South Dakota University. Connor Kasperbauer will be attending Truman State University. Kyle Arrington will attend Western Illinois University. Allante Pickens has yet to decide where he will attend but does have multiple NCAA Division II offers. 

To the leaving sophomores,  Petersen said, “All the hard work, the time the commitment toward the team and program and just staying with it - that’s the big thing. The college basketball season is long and obviously there are lots of ups and downs and I think the sophomores did a great job keeping our team together.”

Kirkwood men’s basketball team stand with their NJCAA Division II national championship trophy, game ball and championship ball during a celebration for the team in Johnson Hall on April 2. PHOTO BY JEFF SIGMUND

Men’s Basketball Head Coach Bryan Petersen talks about the accomplishments the team has made throughout the season.

Kirkwood Community College President Dr. Lori Sundberg speaks at the celebration on April 2.


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