ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Valley State men’s basketball team had an emotional weekend.
First, the Lakers used a last-second shot to knock off Wisconsin-Parkside Saturday in the GLIAC tournament semifinals. That victory clinched a Division II NCAA Tournament berth.
“Our guys really pulled together and put forth the effort,” head coach Ric Wesley said. “I’m super proud of them.”
GVSU finished things off Sunday afternoon with a victory over top-seeded Davenport, giving the Lakers a conference championship, too.
“I’ve been telling a lot of people we’ve just been counted out this whole season. A lot of us have been counted out our whole lives,” guard Hunter Hale said. “Going to the NCAA Tournament is very exciting for all of us. We’re very fortunate to be in this opportunity. We’re just ready to play.”
A victory this Saturday against top-seeded Lewis will mean much more than simply keeping the season alive.
“To see him (Coach Wesley) go through what he’s going through, just to see a different side to him, I think it just makes us love him all the more,” guard Jeramiah Ferguson said. “It makes us respect him all the more. It makes us want to play harder for him.”
Wesley’s father Fred died Monday night. He was 87.
“Coach is always talking about being a lunch bucket guy. That’s being an everyday guy,” said Hale. “He said that was the type of guy (his father) was. Playing for him is really big because we know he is watching over us right now.”
Services for Wesley’s father are Thursday and Friday. Wesley is expected to rejoin the team Saturday for the 6 p.m. tipoff against the region’s top-seeded team.
“He would want us to win as much as we want to win,” Hale added, speaking about his coach’s father. “Hopefully we come out and top and show him what we can do.”