St.Edward’s Men’s basketball team advances to conference tournament semi-finals

The St.Edward’s men’s basketball team is scheduled to take on Texas A&M Kingsville on March 5th at 6:45 p.m. CST


Odett Ochoa

Krafka joined the team as a senior transfer last season, and averaged 11.8 points per game during conference play this season.

The St. Edward’s men’s basketball team has advanced to the semi-finals of the Lone Star Conference tournament after a 72-71 win over Lubbock Christian (LCU) on March 2. The Hilltoppers’ upset over the number one seed schedules them to face Texas A&M Kingsville March 5, making this their third meeting this season. The winner would move on to the championship game on March 6 to face either Dallas Baptist University or West Texas A&M.  

The Hilltoppers came out firing in the first half and took a 40-30 lead into halftime. Lubbock Christian was strong at the start of the second half, tying the game at 43-43 with just under six minutes to go. The remainder of the game was a back and forth nail-biter until the last seconds. With only two seconds remaining, Jake Krafka drilled his fourth three-pointer of the night to give the Hilltoppers a one-point lead. That last-second three proved to make all the difference as the Hilltoppers walked away with the win.

Graduate student B.J. Maxwell led the team in scoring with 21 points. Maxwell also contributed with two rebounds, two assists and three steals. The Hilltoppers’ hero Jake Krafka finished with 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. 

The Hilltoppers’ upset against LCU sets up a rematch against the A&M Kingsville Javelinas on March 5. The two teams previously met on Feb. 4 when the Javelinas defeated the Hilltoppers 86-83. The Hilltoppers led for most of the game, but late in the second half, the Javelinas took the lead after draining two free throws in the final 11 seconds. 

However, as the Hilltoppers move on, they are in familiar territory, as they met and defeated the Javelinas in the conference semifinals last season. This season, the team’s offense is led by Maxwell and junior guard Daniel Venzant, with Maxwell averaging 18.8 points per game and Venzant averaging 17.6 points per game

During the Hilltoppers’ previous matchup with the Javelinas, Venzant had a season high of 30 points, going 12 for 16 from the field and 2 for 5 from behind the arc. It is also necessary to mention that in their previous meeting, forward Jake Krafka fouled out with just over six minutes left in the game. As Krafka just proved at the game against LCU, he is not only a crucial part of the offense but also a serious threat from three-point range, a skill that may make the difference in the upcoming game. 

Even though the Hilltoppers have yet to beat the Javelinas this season, they should not be discounted as they not only have players who embrace these high-pressure situations but are being led by long-time head coach Andre Cook. Under Cook, the team has not only been nationally ranked and won conference tournaments, but has also received two bids to the NCAA South Central Regional tournament. As the saying goes, ‘anything can happen in March,’ so as the Hilltoppers move on, beware of a close battle to the finish.