Team eliminates Stout, season ends at Stevens Point

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville men’s basketball team ended its season in Steven’s Point on Saturday, but not before a 70-53 victory against University of Wisconsin-Stout on Feb. 26 at Bo Ryan Court.

The Pioneers entered the game with two previous victories against the Blue Devils this season.

Junior guard Jim Stocki, who scored six points throughout the game, reflected on the team’s overall performance, indicating possible areas of improvement for future competition.

“I think we competed really well tonight. They [UW-Stout] are a big, physical team, so we made sure that we had to rebound. I think that’s something we could have improved on a little bit, but we did enough to get the win,” Stocki said.

After a 10-10 tie early in the first half, the Pioneers went on a 18-0 run, cruising into a 34-20 halftime lead and building themselves a cushion in hopes of maintaining the lead throughout the remainder of the game.

Senior center Chas Cross was the high scorer for the night with 20 points, while senior guard Eric “Skip” Gerber added 17 points.

Gerber was pleased with the team victory, however, the team took advantage of the strong lead, failing to put away what should have been an easy victory, according to Gerber.

“We got what we wanted right away, [but] then we had a little lull,” Gerber said. “We picked it up, made a couple shots and picked up the defense. We kind of got stagnant and weren’t being aggressive. Coach [Jeff Gard] said to ‘keep being aggressive with the big lead,’ but we took the foot off the gas pedal.”

When the Blue Devils exited halftime on an 11-7 run, the closest they followed up on the Pioneers was 10.

Execution down the stretch was key, as the Pioneers made clutch shots and hit 71 percent of their free throws, going 10-14.

Head coach Jeff Gard was pleased with the Pioneers’ performance, but he continued to emphasize the importance of their execution of the “little things,” which helped the team seal their victory.

“It’s that time of the year again, where the cream rises to the top. You have to take care of the little things. When guys can execute in conference tournament play and when you execute those little things, that’s when you have success,” Gard said.

However, three days later, the Pioneers were unable to execute and claim victory against UW-Stevens Point at Bennett Court in Stevens Point, WI.

The Pioneers’ season ended with a 66-47 loss to University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the semifinals of the WIAC Conference Tournament.

Gerber and Cross were both major contributors to the Pioneers’ regular season, finalizing their careers with influential records and achievements.

Cross finished his four years with 1,336 total points, which places 12th in university history.

He also set a new record for all-time blocks with 135, as well as the best career field goal percentage at 61.2 percent.

Gerber added 795 points to the Pioneer statistic books, as well as 331 assists and 143 steals.