Cinderella run falls short


Steve Frommell

Delvin Barnstable dribbles towards the hoop in the UW-Whitewater versus Mount Union Final Four game in Fort Wayne, Indiana, March 16, 2023.

Ryan Baker, Men’s Sports Assistant Editor

March madness. Madness couldn’t be more of a perfect description of how the UW-Whitewater Warhawks scratched and clawed their way to the semifinal game of the big dance. The underdog mentality was adopted throughout this entire tournament for head coach Pat Miller’s squad. There were no predictions, no rankings, and no speculation that had Whitewater making it as far as they did.

“I’m really proud of these guys. They’ve overcome unimaginable adversity throughout the year. They’ve embraced each other and the run they’ve made over the last four weeks is amazing,” Miller said. “It’s been an incredible run. They definitely embraced the underdog mentality and played with a chip on their shoulder.”

It had been six years since the last time Whitewater had been to the Final Four. 2014 was the year they took home the trophy, and they fell just two games shy of doing it once again in 2023. After an improbable run, the Warhawks surged their way to the semifinals versus Mount Union, in which their season ended after an 83-79 loss.

The path that was taken was an unusual one for Whitewater. They started out the tournament with a win in a high-scoring affair against Wabash University by a score of 90-83. Freshman guard Miles Barnstable took the reins in the first round match-up, scoring 26 points on 9-13 shooting from the field.

The second round brought on Case Western Reserve University. Behind another spectacular performance from Barnstable of 27 points and six made threes while junior forward Trevon Chisholm added 21 points of his own, the Warhawks were propelled in a 78-75 victory to advance to the next round.

Johns Hopkins University was the next team standing in the way of the Warhawks, and the game did not disappoint. In an overtime thriller, they found themselves down six with just 38 seconds left in regulation. After some missed free throws from Johns Hopkins and a clutch three pointer by, once again, Barnstable, Whitewater was able to tie up the game.

Miles Barnstable shoots a jump shot from three point range in the UW-Whitewater versus Mount Union Final Four game in Fort Wayne, Indiana, March 16, 2023.
(Steve Frommell)

Overtime continued to be a nail-biter, but it all came to an end after sophomore guard Jameer Barker sank two free throws to tie the game and to take the lead with just six seconds left. After a longshot heave from Johns Hopkins that fell short, the Warhawks were on their way to the quarterfinals.

Oswego State was the matchup in the quarterfinal of the big dance, and this one gave Whitewater faithfuls a bit of a scare. Up ten with four and a half minutes left in the game, Oswego made a push that raised the heart rate of all Warhawk fans.

However, behind yet another great performance of 23 points from Barnstable and a masterful double-double from sophomore forward Carter Capstran adding on 21 points and 15 rebounds, they punched their ticket to the semifinals with a three point win.

Sadly, everything came to an end when Mount Union came across the board. With a 41-28 lead at half, the Warhawks seemingly just had to close out the game for a chance to raise the trophy in the next game. However, after some trouble at the free throw line, Mount Union put their foot on the gas and never let up. The comeback led to four point loss to end the Cinderella story for Whitewater.

Throughout the tournament, Miller relied heavily on an eight man rotation. Four of those players in Barker, the Barnstable brothers, and Capstran all averaged around 35-40 minutes a game. Miles Barnstable had flipped a switch for March Madness, averaging 22 points a game throughout the tournament. However, the downfall of the Warhawks came from the free throw line, being that they averaged a mere 66% from the charity stripe all tournament.

The Warhawks are going to be a scary team next year, and for the 2023-24 season they will not have the underdog mentality. Losing only one senior will provide the team with a chance to build upon the chemistry and success that is already in the groundwork. March 2024 could be a similar story, but more success is on the way.

“You can expect around the same thing, but we know what we’re going for next year. We’re going to win it all next year,” said Miles Barnstable. “We have the pieces and we’re all going to be back, trusting each other and getting better every day.”