Bethel men win awards, win games
The honors and accolades continue to pile up for the Bethel College men’s basketball team, and while all of that is going on, the Threshers advanced to the finals of the KCAC post-season tournament with a 71-52 win over Southwestern Saturday afternoon at Thresher Gym.
Two days prior, Bethel junior Jaylon Scott was named both the KCAC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. It is the first time a Bethel player won both awards in the same season. Scott was named the top defensive player for the second straight season.
Scott averaged 16.8 points and 11.8 rebounds a season. He also has 114 assists, 20 blocked shots and 38 steals.
In Saturday’s game, Scott scored 14 points with 16 rebounds with seven steals in just 31 minutes of play. He fell three assists shy of his third straight triple double. He also finished two rebounds shy of the all-time school record for career rebounds.
Scott also was named first-team All-KCAC and named to the all-defense team.
“It’s a great honor. I’m blessed,” Scott said. “I have a great group of guys who support me. The only way to get awards like that is to be on a good team. I have a great group of guys who love me and support me.”
Scott, from Allen, Texas, said he got just two offers in high school — Bethel and a Texas junior college. He credited high school teammate Jordan Neely, a Bethel guard, with making the decision to go to Bethel. Scott is a business major.
“I had a teammate, Jordan Neely, who was going here,” Scott said. “I didn’t think it was going to be like this, but the coaches had a vision for me. The believed in me. They took a chance on me. We have one more to go, and I won’t let them down.”
“He was our prized recruit when I was an assistant,” Bethel coach Jason Artaz said.
“Then I was moved to head coach. He ended up committing about a month later or so. He’s been a really good player for us for sure. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a player (get both player of the year and defensive player of the year) — maybe Michael Jordan in the 80s. That just doesn’t happen. He’s a very special player. He’s one of the most team-first guys you could ever meet. He’s great in the classroom.”
Clifford Byrd II led Bethel with 24 points. Byrd II was named second-team All-KCAC.
“We were focusing in on defense and trying to keep their guards contained on the perimeter,” Byrd II said. “That was our success. We maintained focus. We knew they were going to make a run. They are a great team. We still focused on making stops on defense.”
Bryant Mocaby was named honorable mention all-conference.
Third-year Bethel coach Jayson Artaz was named the conference coach of the year. In three seasons, Artaz is 53-33.
“It really comes down to if you win conference, you will probably get coach of the year,” Artaz said. “I don’t know if I’m the best coach in the conference, but when you win, you tend to get more honors.”
Southwestern was led by Steele Gaston-Chapman with 13 points and Troy Baker with 11.
Bethel led by as many as 11 in the first half, 23-12, but gave up an 8-0 run. Southwestern tied the game 24-24 on a Gaston-Chapman layup with 2:57 left in the half. Quintin Wallace followed with one of two free throws to give the Moundbuilders their only lead.
Bethel replied with a Scott three-point play and a Byrd II 3-point shot. After a defensive stop and three offensive rebounds, Flowers hit a 3-pointer with 25 seconds left in the half. A pair of Moundbuilder shots just before the buzzer were off the mark, leaving the Threshers up 33-25.
Scott extended the Thresher run by three points into the second half. Bethel slowly pulled away to lead by as many as 23.
“Overall, our defensive effort was really good tonight,” Artaz said. “I was proud of that. We looked at the scouting report, and I felt like we needed to be more aggressive on defense. We were on our heels at their place (an 86-76 BC loss). The biggest difference was, at their place they shot 30 free throws. We didn’t let them get to the free throw line. Today, they got there 12 times. That’s a pretty big difference.”
“It was a good game tonight,” Scott said. “Defensively, we were excellent. We executed our game plan. We shut them down.”
The 18th-ranked Threshers take on 20th-ranked Oklahoma Wesleyan at 6 p.m. Monday at Hartman Arena in the KCAC finals. Since both teams finished 1-2 in the conference in both the regular season and post-season tournament, both teams have earned automatic bids to the NAIA National Tournament.
Bethel beat the Eagles 97-91 in overtime at home in the second game of the season and 84-69 in Bartlesville, Okla.
“It’s kind of nice to play game after game like this,” Artaz said. “It will be exciting to play at Hartman. It’s a new experience for us.”
SOUTHWESTERN (18-11) — Troy Baker 5-9 0-0 11, Anthony Hickman 0-0 0-0 0, Jake Haertl 3-6 0-0 7, Quintin Wallace 0-0 1-2 1, Noah Webster 3-10 2-2 8, Cooper Pierce 1-6 0-0 2, Paul Fiorentino 0-0 0-0 0, Braylon Steen 1-4 1-2 3, Tony Kinser 0-3 0-0 0, Steele Gaston-Chapman 5-11 2-4 13, Trey White 0-0 0-0 0, Zhahidi Robinson 3-8 1-2 7. TOTALS 21-57 7-12 52.
BETHEL (18-6) — Tavaughn Flowers 3-11 0-0 8, Kevon Green 0-1 0-0 0, Jared Mocaby 0-0 0-0 0, Miki Zewge 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan Neely 1-2 0-0 3, Clifford Byrd II 9-15 1-3 24, Jalyn Todd 4-5 0-0 8, Kyle Belvin 0-0 0-0 0, Jaylon Scott 5-15 4-7 14, Nick Bonner 1-3 0-0 2, Bryant Mocaby 2-6 0-0 5, Harper Jonas 0-4 0-0 0, Adam Gouro 2-3 1-2 5, Ike Umeh 1-1 0-0 2. TOTALS 28-66 6-12 71.
Total fouls — SC 11, BC 10. Technical fouls — none. Fouled out — none. 3-point shooting — SC 3-17 (Baker 1-4, Haertl 1-2, Webster 0-1, Pierce 0-3, Steen 0-2, Gaston-Chapman 1-3, Robinson 0-2), BC 9-24 (Flowers 2-4, Green 0-1, Neely 1-2, Byrd II 5-8, Scott 0-1, Bonner 0-2, Mocaby 1-3, Jonas 0-3). Rebounds — SC 34 (Baker 7), BC 45 (Scott 16). Assists — SC 6 (Kinser 2, Gaston-Chapman 2), BC 16 (Scott 7). Turnovers — SC 17 (Robinson 6), BC 14 (Byrd II 4). Blocked shots — SC 5 (Kinser 3), BC 2 (Todd 2). Steals — SC 8 (Webster 2, Robinson 2), BC 8 (Byrd II 4).
Bethel 71, Southwestern 52
Oklahoma Wesleyan 84, Ottawa 83
Bethel (18-6) vs. Oklahoma Wesleyan (19-5) 6 p.m.
Mark Schnabel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org