Wheelchair hoops downed in national tournament


: #33 AJ Fitzpatrick shoots a layup on Friday March 17th in the Kachel Fieldhouse against University of Missouri

Chris Pittner, Men’s Sports journalist

From March 15-18 the UW-Whitewater Warhawk Men’s Wheelchair Basketball team competed at the National Wheelchair Basketball Association tournament which they hosted at Kachel Gymnasium in Whitewater. There were 11 teams that made the trip for the tournament, including the likes of Alabama, Auburn, and Arizona. 

The Warhawks competed in four games, winning two and losing two, with their run ending in the consolation bracket semifinals, with a narrow defeat at the hands of the Auburn Tigers, 68-64. 

The Warhawks drew the 6 seed in the tournament, and their first matchup was with the 11 seeded Eastern Washington Eagles. In this matchup, the Warhawk offense came out with firepower, scoring 16 points in the first four minutes of action, and 56 by halftime. Defensively, the Warhawks held the Eagles scoreless for the first 13 and a half minutes, and only gave up seven first half points. 

#50 Jeromie Meyer shoots a mid range shot on Friday March 17th in the Kachel Fieldhouse against University of Missouri

The offensive effort was high quality all around for the Warhawks, with Jeromie Meyer setting the tone early with back-to-back three pointers on the first two possessions of the game. The dominance continued into the second half, with the Warhawks pulling out a 104-21 victory over the Eagles. 

Following the win against Eastern Washington, the Warhawks would face a much tougher test in their next matchup: the third seeded Illinois Fighting Illini. This game would prove to be a hard fought, physical defensive battle throughout, with neither team gaining a true edge throughout the matchup. By halftime, the score was much lower the previous game, with Illinois clinging to a narrow 30-25 lead. 

Throughout the game, the Warhawk offense was able to create good looks offensively, but were unable to capitalize. The lead stayed anywhere from five to 15 points in favor of the Illini throughout the second half, as the Warhawks would go on mini runs, but Illinois would always come back with a run of their own. In the end, the Warhawks fell just short in a tough game by a score of 57-45. 

With the loss the Warhawks dropped to the consolation bracket, where they awaited the seventh seed, the Missouri Tigers. This was anticipated to be a close matchup, as Missouri featured Parolympian Colin Higgins. The game was tight through most of the first half, until Meyer was able to catch fire towards the end of the half. The offense as a whole was slow for the first 16 minutes, with Whitewater leading 24-15, but easy fast break points and great defense propelled the Warhawks to a 32-17 lead at halftime. 

“We played good defense, got chairs on their biggest threats offensively, overall we played our best defensive game of the year,” Warhawk head coach Jake Williams said. 


The offense held on the second half, mainly due to the offensive explosion Meyer provided for the

#21 Thomas Oberst shoots a layup on Friday March 17th in the Kachel Fieldhouse against University of Missouri

Warhawks, hitting difficult shots throughout the second half. Meyer finished with 37 points for the Warhawks, over half of the team’s 71 points, and held Missouri to only 52. 

“We are a good offensive team and have good shooters, I kind of expected it today, it is usually not our problem, we struggled against Illinois, this was a good bounce back game,” Williams said. 

In their next matchup, the Warhawks faced a team they had defeated this season, fifth seeded Auburn. This game would prove to be a battle throughout, as Auburn had several players who could hit shots from outside. The Warhawks opened with a 12-6 lead, however Auburn was able to rally to make it 33-28 at halftime. 

To start the second half, Auburn established their offensive dominance, stretching the lead to 15 at one point during the half. However, the Warhawks were not done yet, as they staged a comeback for the majority of the second half. A great team effort offensively helped the Warhawks bring the game back to within three with around a minute to play, but Whitewater was forced to foul and gave the Tigers free throws. In the end, the Warhawks ran out of time, and fell just short of the win, falling by a score of 68-64. 

#5 Evan Oberst shoots a layup on Friday March 17th in the Kachel Fieldhouse against University of Missouri

With the loss, the Warhawks capped off another season in their wheelchair basketball program history with a great effort in the National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Association basketball tournament. The Warhawks will be back next season hoping to add another notch on their illustrious history in which they have produced 26 total Paralympians in the sport of wheelchair basketball.