Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Polarizing season comes to an end

Elijah Bartels
Whitewater Men’s Basketball huddling up in Kachel Gymnasium before the game Vs. UW-Stout Saturday, Feb 3.

In the first round of the 2024 WIAC men’s basketball tournament, the UW-Whitewater Warhawks (17-9, 7-7) fell to the UW-Stevens Point Pointers (14-12, 7-7) 70-76 Feb. 20. In a thrilling back-and-forth game for the most part, the Warhawks could not pull forward, ending their season.

“We just didn’t execute down the stretch to finish the game,” head coach Jarod Wichser said. “We had some mismatches and advantages, we just weren’t quite able to take advantage of those at certain times.”

Star guard Miles Barnstable missed the game with a minor lower extremity injury. In his place, sophomores Isaac Verges and Jake Quast stepped up.

The Pointers started on a 22-7 run, but the Warhawks climbed back to tie the game 28-28. By the end of the first half, they were down 37-36. Both teams attacked the paint at high levels: the Pointers saw fast break opportunities after turnovers, and the Warhawks continued to feed Trevon Chislom, Delvin Barnstable and others in the post.

“Personnel-wise, they have a freshman big man and a lot of smaller bigs,” Chislom said. “It helped me being able to use my strength, I knew that I could go out there and I can perform the way I could.”

The second half was a back-and-forth battle for the most part, but Stevens Point came out on top in the end. The turnovers and the defensive breakdowns turned out to be too much for the Warhawks.

“Our execution down the stretch [was crucial],” Wichser said. “Unfortunately, when you have that and you have 16 turnovers, that’s gonna be tough.”

Chislom led the team in scoring with 17 points, but junior guard Jameer Barker stepped up with 16, and Quast scored a career-high 13 points on 5-9 shooting. Delvin Barnstable and Isaac Verges contributed well defensively.

The team shot 80% from the free-throw line, which was great compared to the Pointers’ 56.7%, but allowing them to shoot 62.8% from the field and turning the ball over too much turned out to be critical mistakes that doomed the team.

The first-round exit ends the season for Warhawk basketball, as they will not participate in the 2024 Division III Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament. In Wichser’s first season as the Warhawks’ interim head coach, they finished the season with a 17-9 record and a 7-8 record in conference play, including the tournament loss to the Pointers.


Polarizing but entertaining 2023-24 season

The 2023-24 season was nothing short of polarizing. The season was full of highs and lows, but in the end, the Warhawks could not secure a second-straight bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Warhawks began the season with a 10-1 record in non-conference play, only losing to Carthage College 77-73. Headlining this impressive start was a 2-0 record in the Men’s Basketball Tip-Off Classic, a visit to the No. 1 spot in the top 25 rankings and an electric 79-76 comeback win over Hope College.

The Warhawks began WIAC play with strong wins over UW-Oshkosh and UW-Eau Claire, but dropped four of the next five games, the win being a one-point thriller against UW-River Falls. Afterwards, they won four straight with a point differential of +83.

“I think, at times, we saw how talented this team was and how capable it was,” Wichser said. “It really is a game about details, and they really matter in big games. Those are areas that I think we’re going to improve on moving forward.”

Their momentum was stunted by a 68-83 loss to UW-La Crosse, and they could not recover. They could not assemble a win for the rest of the season, and their tournament loss to the Pointers sealed their season.

As interim head coach, Wichser made a large impact on the team and helped the Warhawks to some gritty wins. The expectations placed on him were tough, given that the team was ranked No. 2 in the preseason and coming off a Final Four appearance, but he still led the team to a quality record and made great connections with the team.

“[Wichser] did good for his first year, and just how much he had to pick up for being a first-year head coach, he was good,” Miles Barnstable said.

Miles Barnstable led the team in points this season, but Chislom, a departing senior, was not too far behind. Chislom made a huge impact in his five seasons with the Warhawks, planting his name into the record books as one of the greatest Warhawk basketball players of all time.

“Leaving that legacy that Whitewater builds character and builds really good athletes, that’s what I wanted: to keep the legacy going here,” Chislom said. “When I came in, I wasn’t looked at as one of the greatest, I just kept working.”

Chislom also dedicates a lot to former Warhawk basketball player Derek Gray, who would have been a senior this season. He wants people to remember him and his legacy as well.

Five other seniors are departing the program. Delvin Barnstable, Drew Fisher, James Kelley, Cliff McCray, and Will Pytleski are all seniors. Despite nearly a quarter of the roster leaving, Wichser has a plan to find success for the 2024-25 season.

“It’s going to be really important that we have guys step up and fill those voids,” Wichser said. “[But] there’s no doubt we have a young group of guys who are very talented.”

The season may be over, but hindsight is 2024-25. With some fantastic depth and overall talent on the roster, there’s no doubt that the Warhawks will have all cylinders firing in November.

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About the Contributors
Chase Keller
Chase Keller, Assistant Women's Sports Editor
Elijah Bartels
Elijah Bartels, Photographer

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