Monday, October 10, 2011

Top Ten Moments: 8. Calvin Wins “Home” Tournament Game in Aurora


8. Calvin Wins “Home” Tournament Game in Aurora (March 5, 2005)

There’s a non-zero chance that the actual events of this day have been embellished in my own mind over the years. Someone will have to confirm if they remember this game the same way.

The listed attendance for this second-round tournament game held at Aurora University was 1,400. It seemed like 1,000 of those people were Calvin fans. I remember hearing that the students of Aurora were on spring break, and so their student section consisted of only a few (boisterous) members. Most of the “adults” wearing the Spartan blue seemed to be parents of the players (shout out to the mother of Larry Welton). Meanwhile, Calvin had the support of multiple 15-passenger vans full of students, a strong contingency of travelers from West Michigan, and the support of the Chicago Alumni chapter (who hosted a post-game pizza party right there on campus).

The Calvin crowd got going early on. As pre-game warm-ups were finishing up and the teams prepared for the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, a chant of “LET’S-GO-CALVIN” thundered through the gymnastics-floored gymnasium. Goosebumps. Several of the Aurora players were obviously surprised at the turnout (and volume) of the Calvin fans. It was like a home game for the Knights.

But even though Calvin had the crowd support, the first half didn’t start out very well for the Knights. Aurora stretched out a 15 point lead (33-18) in the first 13 minutes of the game, but Calvin hadn’t gotten going yet. The Knights used a 20-4 run over the next 11 minutes of play to take their first lead of the game. The Knights would control the scoreboard for most of the second half, and eventually cruise to a 12 point victory. If we go back to that 15 point Aurora lead in the first half, we find that Calvin outscored the Spartans 53-26 the rest of the way (nearly 27 minutes).

Dan Aultman lead the way with 20 points, Andy Draayer chipped in 17, and in true Coach Vande Streek fashion, the Knights out-rebounded Aurora 48-31.

We were exuberant all the way back to Grand Rapids; our Knights were on their way to the Sweet Sixteen. I think this was the moment I realized that this was a special team and that anything could happen.

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