Coach Delton Deal credits senior leadership for York College's domination so far in the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference.
But there's one senior in particular who has been dazzling for the 14-3 Panthers, who have won their first four league games.
Thadd Varmall, a 6-foot-3 forward from Dallas, is averaging 22 points and 9.5 rebounds a game. He's fourth in the country in free-throw percentage at 88 percent, is shooting 40 percent from 3-point range and 56 percent from the field.
Deal said Varmall blossomed last season after coaches switched him from shooting guard to forward, where he's found all sorts of ways to score while hiking his game to another level. He was an honorable mention All-American last season.
“He's got a high motor, he plays with a lot of heart and he shoots the ball well,” Deal said.
On Jan. 5, Varmall scored 49 points, going 20 of 31 from the field, and grabbed 10 rebounds against Central Baptist.
The Panthers, with seven seniors, eight juniors and just one sophomore, lead the MCAC for the first time under Deal. They go 10 deep, are unselfish, know their roles and are averaging 90 points a game. Deal said they're the best group he's coached in his three years as head coach at York.
They face a tough week, traveling to Central Christian on Tuesday, followed by home games against Haskell University on Friday, second-place College of the Ozarks on Saturday and Bellevue University on Jan. 22.
“To get through this unscathed would be a real accomplishment for us,” Deal said.
Success ramps up GPAC rivalry
The Doane and Hastings men's basketball teams don't need much firing up for Wednesday's 8 p.m. showdown in Crete, Neb.
“You can take the natural rivalry and amplify it by three or four,” Hastings coach Lance Creech said.
Both teams are chasing No. 7 Northwestern (15-4, 9-2) for first place in the Great Plains Athletic Conference standings. The Tigers (18-3, 8-3) sit in a tie for second place with Dordt. Hastings is next at 16-5 and 7-4. Hastings is averaging about 81 points per game and Doane 79.
Dylan Flinn, a 6-7 post player from Lincoln High who has moved from the bench to a starting role, has averaged more than 17 points in the past four games for the Broncos. They upset Doane 80-73 at home earlier this season.
The Tigers have won 18 games for the first time since 1996-97.
» The Midland University football team has been awarded the 2012 NAIA Five Star Champions of Character Team Award.
The honor, given each year to only one team in each of the NAIA's championship sports, is awarded to the squad that best demonstrates integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership in everyday decisions.
The Warriors concentrated on several off-the-field service and community aid projects in 2012. Along with hosting a number of community youth and family camps, the Warriors teamed up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They also established a “Warrior Impact Day” in which players donated blood, read with local students, collected food donations, volunteered to move furniture and conducted various activities to better the community.
» Tanner Miller, a 6-1 sophomore guard from Gretna, put together two of his best games to help lead Morningside to a pair of victories last week.
He had 22 points, seven steals, and six assists in last Wednesday's 88-66 triumph against Mount Marty. He then had 17 points, four rebounds and four assists in a 86-64 win Saturday at Concordia.
Miller, who is averaging 10.1 points, leads the GPAC with 53 steals. He has 59 assists to average 2.5 steals and 2.8 assists per game. He's one of the Mustangs' most improved players after he averaged 1.1 points per game in 12 varsity contests last winter.
» Nebraska Wesleyan's Mallory Shanahan, a 6-foot forward from Wahoo, Neb., became the 12th player in school history to surpass 1,000 career points last week. The four-year starter ranks 11th in career scoring, sixth in career rebounding, first in career free throw percentage and fifth in career blocked shots.
Despite NWU's 3-13 record, Shanahan leads the GPAC in rebounding (9.6), blocked shots (1.4), free-throw percentage (86.8) and double-doubles (8).
» Wayne State senior Amry Shelby became the eighth player in school history to surpass the 1,400-point mark in road wins at Minnesota, Crookston and Bemidji State. The 5-11 guard from Marion, Iowa, has 1,411 points. Wayne State, 10-5 and 4-5 in the Northern Sun, hosts Augustana Tuesday at 8 p.m., followed by home games this weekend against Minot State and University of Mary.
» Millard West sophomore forward Jordan Spencer had a career weekend for the No. 22 Wayne State women. She scored a career-high 27 points and hit the game-winning shot with 2.5 seconds left in Friday's 59-57 win at Minnesota, Crookston and followed that with 25 points in Saturday's 89-68 win at Bemidji State.
Spencer has scored in double figures in every game for the 10-3 Wildcats, averaging 18.7 points and 7.3 rebounds to rank fourth in the NSIC in scoring and 12th in rebounding. She's also fifth in field goal percentage, shooting 54.1 percent (100 of 185) from the field.
» The No. 2 Concordia women (17-1, 10-1) have a two-game lead in the league standings over No. 4 Morningside and No. 10 Northwestern. Morningside, Northwestern and No. 7 Briar Cliff each have three conference losses. Concordia has defeated Morningside twice and has games remaining at Northwestern on Feb. 2 and against Briar Cliff at home on Feb. 6.
The Bulldogs are aiming to become the first team to win back-to-back GPAC regular-season titles since Hastings captured at least a share of the league championship five consecutive years from 2003-04 to 2007-08.
Guard Bailey Morris, a sophomore from Roseland, Neb., leads the team in scoring (15.6) after scoring 48 points last weekend.
» Northwest Missouri State kept a share of first place in the MIAA despite its loss to Missouri Western on Saturday.
To stay there, the Bearcats (11-3, 4-1) will need to win on the road. They have just two home games the rest of the month — Wednesday against Lincoln and Northeastern State on Jan. 31.
» Doane's Zack Lindsley posted the NAIA's top weight throw Saturday with a heave of 64 feet, 1 inch at the Scott Nisely Classic. Lindsley also won the weight throw at the UNL Holiday Inn Invitational on Friday. Jessica Payne posted the best throw in the NAIA in the shot (46-5.50).
» Wayne State junior Carly Fehringer broke her own school record in the weight throw for the second time this season Saturday with a winning toss of 63 feet at the Dordt College Indoor Invitational. That ranks third in NCAA Division II.
» UNK junior Marissa Bongers from Brainard won the 800 meters Friday night at the Holiday Inn Invitational in Lincoln. Her 2:13.07 is the second-fastest time in Division II this year and breaks a five-year-old school record by nearly a second.
» Concordia heavyweight Frank Ayala, a senior wrestler from West Covina, Calif., earned his team-leading fourth tournament placement at the Quality Hotel Open hosted by Hastings. The third-place finish has been his best finish. He also took fourth at the Swede Open on Nov. 10 and posted back-to-back sixth-place finishes in opens at Simpson (Iowa) on Dec. 1 and at Buena Vista (Iowa) on Dec. 8. With a 14-15 record, Ayala is tied for the team lead in victories.
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