Two comebacks have spurred Rhema Bible College basketball men into the Christian College National Invitational Tournament at Oakland City University, where the fourth-seeded Eagles will pit a 16-7 record vs. fifth-seeded Wright State-Lake at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Wright State-Lake, to bring a 12-18 record from Celina, Ohio, also is on a comeback of sorts.
"We've won two of three games since losing twice at Oakland City," said Coach Richard Westerlund, whose Lakers fell 85-66 February 10 in Johnson Center and 77-61 the next day.
Rhema Bible, of Broken Arrow, Okla., is in the CCNIT after winning the 2017 American Christian College Athletics (ACCA) tourney in Joplin, Mo.
"We're without six of last season's top eight players. We're a totally different team," Coach Perry Shockley said. "We're also without three players we dismissed from our team -- two after Christmas and later a third, for things like not going to class. We're a bible college and you go to class."
The Eagles hub around 6-foot-2 sophomore guard Kendrick Williams and 6-6 senior power forward Tele Adenehem.
"Kendrick is averaging 34 points, six rebounds and six assists," Shockley said. "He does whatever hew wants to do. He's shooting 42 percent on threes and making six threes per game. He also drives to the basket and can shoot layups with each hand. "Tele, who played last season, is averaging 18 points and 13 rebounds. He's strong and athletic. He's from Nigeria and he's also a soccer player."
Sophomore forward Jermaine Brown is averaging 10.5 points and eight rebounds, 6-3 senior power forward Trevor Delano 10 points and 6 boards, 6-0 sophomore guard Tanner Meyer six points, 6-2 freshman Marquis Roper seven points, four rebounds and four assists as a shooting guard.
Wright State-Lake opened eyes by beating Warren Wilson.
"They were ranked No. 8 in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association," Westerlund said. "We also beat Cincinnati Clermont twice when they were No. 17 and No. 18 in the USCAA.
Sophomore Isaac Clay leads the Lakers with 11 points a game while also getting 2.6 assists and 2.3 steals. Same-sized classmate Blake Gorman adds 7.5 points and five assists. Another sophomore, 6-3 Quincy Green, averages 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds, 6-3 freshman Zak Milhouse seven points and six boards, 6-5 freshman Tyrone Auzenne 6.5 and five, 6-7 freshman Chaz Painter six and six, 6-5 freshman Nick Passino five and six plus two blocks.
"This is the first national tournament for our program. It'll be a tremendous three days," Westerlund said. "Rhema has guards who can score, but our size and athleticism match up well."