Swede teams closing in on playoff berths

By Steve Sell
February 10, 2019

LINDSBORG — The Bethany College women’s basketball team is finally starting to play like the one picked to finish second during the KCAC preseason.

Of course that was before the team lost All-KCAC guard Lauren Welsch to a season-ending injury and the team also lost another starter to attrition.

But the Swedes are getting it together at the right time as Saturday they upset No. 17 Sterling 71-68 to basically knock the Warriors out of the championship race unless something out of the ordinary happens. They are two games back of Tabor and a game back of Kansas Wesleyan.

Bethany appears to be in great shape to make the postseason as it’s now 11-11 in the conference and 15-13 overall. It received a huge boost from McPherson College on Saturday, which upset Ottawa as the Braves had entered the night a game back of Bethany. All the Swedes need is one win in the last two games to make the postseason or an Ottawa loss.

Bethany’s Kelsi Mueller stayed on her tremendous run with 25 more points, including five 3-pointers. Hannah Ferguson added 13 points and Sena Atkas added 12 points on four 3-pointers as the Swedes were making it rain from beyond the arc. 

Bethany’s Marissa Pope provided a highlight when she made a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer from beyond midcourt.

Bethany can clinch a playoff spot Wednesday when it hosts Saint Mary, which is out of the playoff race.

• BETHANY MEN 91 STERLING 85 — Like the women, the Swede men only need a win in their final two games, or a Bethel loss, to make the playoffs.

They avoided an upset at the hands of 12th-place Sterling by exploding for 53 first-half points.

Bethany again shot lights out at the foul line, making 27 of 35. Tyler Larkin and Mookie Duncan scored 18 points apiece to lead the Swedes, while Reed Stephens added 10. 

The Swedes are 10-12 in the KCAC and tied with York for seventh and both teams are a game back of York for sixth. They host Saint Mary on Wednesday, then play Saturday at arch-rival Kansas Wesleyan.