Lancers send Kessler out with a win

WINONA LAKE, Ind. – The final game of head coach Jim Kessler’s career ended on a fitting note — with a win.

Grace’s men’s basketball team secured fifth place in the NCCAA National Championships with a 96-88 victory on Friday night against Columbia International.

Friday’s game was emotionally charged as the Lancers seemed determined to send Kessler out with a victory.

Grace led from start to finish against CIU; Charlie Warner scored the first points, and he enjoyed a dominant opening half.

Warner poured in 19 points before halftime. He scored 10 points during a 3-minute outburst midway through the half, putting the Lancers ahead 32-16.

Grace’s lead swelled up to as many as 21, and the host team led 56-41 at halftime. The Lancers shot 56 percent from the floor, 67 percent on 3-pointers and 89 percent (16-of-18) from the foul line.

The Lancers (18-16) still held that 15-point lead six minutes into the second half, but the Rams erupted for eight straight points to make the score 67-60 with 11 minutes remaining.

Martin Schiele responded with a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession to slow CIU’s momentum, and the Lancers went on a 10-1 run to gain separation.

CIU made one final push over the final minutes, but their rally proved too late as Grace held on for an 8-point win.

Warner led all players with 27 points to go along with eight boards. He shot 9-of-14 from the floor, 4-of-5 from beyond the arc and 5-of-5 from the foul line.

Haden Deaton poured in 26 points and a game-high nine boards; he made all 10 of his free throws.

Logan Godfrey tallied 14 points to go along with four assists and four boards in his collegiate finale, and Braxton Linville added 10 points, 7 assists, 5 boards and 2 steals while making 5-of-5 from the floor.

Schiele finished with eight points and two assists, Jaret Sons tallied seven points and five boards, and Tim Swanson scored two points.

The Lancers combined to shoot 51 percent overall from the floor. Grace was particularly lethal from beyond the arc (62 percent) and from the foul line (90 percent).

Grace also owned a dominant plus-14 advantage in rebounding thanks to 11 offensive boards.

The win also ends the playing careers of graduating seniors Godfrey and Swanson.

At the conclusion of Friday’s game, Kessler was honored with a ceremony on Kessler Court. Members of Kessler’s family and current and past teams joined him on the court for a time of celebration.

Kessler officially wraps up his 42-year career ranked No. 28 all-time for wins among college basketball coaches with 788 victories.

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