The Park men’s basketball team recently hosted the American Midwest Conference Tournament Championship game for the first time.
The second-seeded Pirates, however, dropped the title game, 71-63, to No. 5 Central Baptist inside the Breckon Sports Center on Monday, March 4.
With the loss, Park finished the regular season with a 20-11 record. The Pirates will learn if their season continues on Wednesday, March 13, as the NAIA will release the 32-team national tournament field via a bracket reveal show on its website. The production is slated for a 5 p.m. start.
Central Baptist (22-10) notched an automatic bid into the national tournament, which will be played at Municipal Auditorium in downtown Kansas City, with the AMC tournament triumph.
The Mustangs led by as many as 16 points on their way to a 36-22 halftime lead. But the Pirates came racing back to take a 46-45 lead midway through the second half. Central Baptist pulled away in the final two minutes, keeping an advantage of at least six in the final minutes.
Senior guard Zach Rutland and junior forward Blue Johnson led Park with 14 points apiece. Junior forward Allen Hyatt added 12 points. Percell Washington and Tyrone Alston led the Mustangs with 21 points each.
To get to the AMC title game, Park beat No. 7 Lyon 60-54 in the quarterfinal round and No. 3 Hannibal-LaGrange 65-53 in the semifinals.
Central Baptist, meanwhile, claimed upset victories over No. 4 William Woods (58-50) and No. 1 Missouri Baptist (64-60) to get to Park. Missouri Baptist (28-4) earned the AMC’s other automatic bid with the regular-season league title.
Park’s Rutland and Hyatt were named to the all-American Midwest Conference team, the league announced after the completion of the tournament.
Rutland, a 5-foot-7, 150-pound guard from Indianapolis, was deemed a first-team selection after leading the Pirates with averages of 13.9 points per game, 4.2 assists and 1.2 steals. He ranks eighth in the NAIA in assist-turnover ratio at 2.86.
Hyatt, a Park Hill South product, picked up third team all-league honors for averaging 11.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this season.
A Drury University transfer, Hyatt, who led the team in blocks with 42, was one of three Park players to start in all 31 games during the regular season.
Missouri Baptist’s Pablo Hernandez was named AMC Player of the Year after averaging 14.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. Missouri Baptist coach Matt Brock earned the league’s coaching honor.
LAMP EARNS POSTSEASON HONOR
Park junior Sarah Lamp was given the AMC’s Newcomer of the Year award for a successful first year in Parkville.
Lamp, a junior transfer from North Central Missouri College, averaged 12.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, leading the Pirates in both categories in her inaugural season with the team.
Lamp, a Kirksville, Mo., native, who also was named to the league’s honorable mention team, had a team-high seven double-doubles and scored in double figures in 19 games during the season.
Park’s women finished the season 11-17, coming up short of qualifying for the AMC tournament for a third straight season.
The Pirates are due to lose just one player in senior Deja Johnson-Ford, who averaged 7.3 points per game this season.
Zach Rutland recently became the newest member of the Park men’s basketball program’s 1,000-point club.
Rutland, a senior guard from Indianapolis, scored 15 points to surpass 1,000 career points in the Pirates’ 84-64 victory over Lindenwood-Belleville University on Thursday, Jan. 31 at Breckon Sports Center in Parkville.