The gym buzzes with excitement. The stands throng with excited college students, waiting in red shirts and with anticipation to see the Andrews University Cardinals play their very first home basketball game of the season. The starters run to the court amid cheers: Jesse Franklin (junior, wellness), Mugabe Menani (freshman, biology), Caleb Braswell (freshman, exercise science), Timmy Duado (senior, marketing), and the birthday boy Andre Crayton (junior, exercise science)! Menani makes the first basket of the night after our Cardinals win the tip-off. Their opponents, the Lake Michigan College Red Hawks, hailing from neighboring Benton Harbor, struggle to start strong but keep the game’s pace quick and fast.
At the hard-fought half, Andrews leads 32 to 29. The two teams are well matched. Duado and Menani struggle to stay out of foul trouble, sending the Red Hawks to the free throw line several times in the first half. Caleb Joseph (sophomore, nursing) shines during his minutes, fighting through the opposing team’s defense to the rim time after time again. Junior Andre Crayton, who celebrated his 21st birthday on game day, is the leading scorer in the first half with 11 points. The gym is packed full of fans as the half goes on, with students filling up the bleachers and lining up on either side of the court behind the basket to cheer their team on. By the beginning of the second half, seating is standing room only and the curtain has to be lifted to allow fans to pack in. If this is a sign for what the rest of the season will look like, students will want to show up and early!
Through the second half, the Red Hawks stay with the Cardinals, with both teams fighting hard for every point. The referees lock in on fouls and traveling, keeping things interesting behind the free throw line. Crayton stays a beast in the lane, driving hard to the basket every chance he can. Halfway through the second half, the Red Hawks move to take the lead, but the Cardinals respond to tie the game. Menani breaks away with the ball, but misses the layup, putting the ball back into the Red Hawk hands and Lake Michigan makes the basket to lead by two.
As the second half continues, several technical fouls are called on both teams. Tension and excitement is high. The fans of the Cardinals and the Red Hawks seem to have some kind of altercation on the sidelines—things are certainly staying interesting this season and school spirit is definitely in the air. As the announcer said, “Lots of people [are] emotionally involved in this game.”
With only 5 minutes on the clock, and the Red Hawks on a 10-point lead, I’ll admit, my own emotional involvement and love for our Cardinals is making it difficult for me to write this article. But I suppose that’s what sports is all about: pouring your heart out on the court for the sake of everyone in the stands who is supporting you.
Number 32 on the Red Hawks fouls out with three minutes left on the clock, but missed free throws get in the way of the Cardinals’ success. Looks like our team will be running in practice this week. Perhaps I’ll spend a few hours on the StairMaster in honor of them. But all hope is not lost! Menani hits a shot and pulls the Red Hawks lead to only 5 points. With only 1:20 to go, the Cardinals drop the lead to 3 and shut down the other team’s offense. Fans are on their feet now; every moment and every dribble counts. Cardinals move to foul when the ball goes to the Red Hawks; now, just 30 seconds are left on the clock and the lead pulls to 4 points. The buzzer goes off and the Cardinals lose 64-60. However, there’s a chance for a rematch on the road in two weeks; tune in on November 17 to cheer our boys on to a win.
The Student Movement is the official student newspaper of Andrews University. Opinions expressed in the Student Movement are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors, Andrews University or the Seventh-day Adventist church.