ALEX ECONOMOS, TRUMPET STAFF WRITER
As the regular season comes to a close, the American Rivers Conference (A-R-C) basketball tournaments are right around the corner. Both the Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams have qualified for the A-R-C tournament.
The Women’s Basketball team’s 14-2 conference record has the team tied for first in the A-R-C standings and will receive the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
Wartburg is guaranteed a first round bye. The women are ranked No. 8 in the NCAA Division-III national rankings. No. 2 seed Loras sits one spot back at No. 12 in the nation. The Knights and the DuHawks split the season series. The Duhawks slipped past the Knights with a fourpoint victory in Levick Arena.
The Knights avenged the loss on Wednesday, Feb. 20, in a 79-76 overtime victory. The women are the defending regular season and conference champions. The Knights defended the regular season title and have secured home court advantage for the tournament.
The first round of the conference tournament will take place Tuesday, Feb. 25. The second round is Thursday, Feb. 27, and the championship is Saturday, Feb. 29. The men’s and women’s games will both be played on those days, and located at the higher seeds venues. The winner of the conference tournament will also get an automatic bid to the national tournament next month.
Emma Gerdes ’20 has been a large part of the Knights’ success so far this season. In 23 games, the reigning 2019 A-R-C MVP has averaged 10.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, five assists and two steals a contest. Gerdes’ leadership and drive has propelled the Knights all season. Wartburg will face off against the winner of No. 4-seed Coe and No. 5-seed Simpson on Thursday, Feb. 25.
The Wartburg men officially clinched a spot in the A-R-C tournament on Saturday, Feb. 22, with a 92-81 win. Wartburg finished 7-9 in regular season conference action and owns an overall record of 11-14. Wartburg had a difficult road to the conference tournament.
After a loss to Simpson College on Saturday, Feb. 15, the Knights were tied with the Storm for sixth in the conference and battling for the last spot in the tournament. The two following games against Loras and Dubuque proved to be critical in determining the final two spots of the A-R-C bracket.
The tournament begins Tuesday, Feb. 25. Wartburg will travel for every game played, as the higher seed hosts. The last time the men’s team won the conference tournament was in 2017. The Knights were the No. 6 seed and went on to upset three teams in a row to win the championship. Wartburg will open the conference tournament against No. 3 seed Loras.
The Knights beat the Loras in both previous matchups, 83-65 and 84-81.