Photo by Ryan Coody
KANSAS CITY – The Vanguard Lions led by Spokane Native Preston Wynne were greeted by a “sea of red” as they took the court to take on the Benedictine College Ravens Friday night.
The game started off as the Ravens won the tip and connected on a three point shot to take an early lead. Benedictine started off hot as they built a 9-4 lead in the first three minutes of the game. Vanguard took an early timeout than came back on the floor to hit three in a row from downtown which sparked a 9-0 run giving the Lions the advantage 13-9. The Ravens fought back as they made a few buckets under the basket making up ground 17-13. Fouls by the Ravens on two three point attempts from the Lions lead to 5 of 6 shooting from the free throw line to build their lead to 12 as they went into the locker room leading 31 to 19.
Vanguard kept pace with the Ravens in the second half matching them bucket for bucket down low as they forced turnovers with their half-court trap pressure defense. The Lions also stepped in the way of the Ravens multiple times leading to three turnovers on charges by the Benedictine.
Benedictine hit two threes late and also connected on a layup well drawing a foul to cut the Lions lead down to 7 with just over 1:20 remaining. It wasn’t quite enough to pull the Ravens back in it however, as Vanguard connected on 4 of 6 free throws to move on to the quarter finals winning the contest 81-70.
Photo by Ryan Coody
Preston Wynn of the Spokane Tribe of Indians ended the game with 20 points and 3 steals. Wynn has scored 20+ points in both games so far in the tournament, when asked about facing defending NAIA champions Georgetown he said, “We’re ready, it’s our first time being here since 2005 and our first win since 1999. We’re the underdogs and I love that. We’re playing the defending champs tomorrow and their looking at us like we’re not anything, we’re short and skinny we’re going to bring it all to them that’s all we can do.”
Preston also had some words for young Native Americans living on reservations throughout the United States. “I want to show that everybody can do this, there are way better players than me on every rez, and I just want to show them how easy it is just to go and do it, it’s so simple, I wish everyone the opportunity to do what I do, they just have to get off the reservation and do it.
Vanguard will take on Georgetown today at 4PM central time in Kansas City as they try to continue their historic run to a become one of the final four teams left standing. The game can be viewed live over streaming media at www.naia.org
Charlie Perry is a staff writer for the IndianLeader and NDNsports.com
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in The Indian Leader. Used with permission.