The Vanguard Lions Win The NAIA Championship; Spokane Tribal Citizen Preston Wynne Named Tournament MVP

Vanguard team celebrates championship

Vanguard team celebrates championship

By Charlie Perry

KANSAS CITY— Only two teams remained Tuesday night, as The Vanguard Lions looked to stop the clock from striking midnight on their Cinderella story as they took on The Emmanuel College Tigers.

Vanguard won the tip and quickly hit a mid-range jumper to take an early lead 2-0. Two consecutive turnovers by Emmanuel lead to The Lions taking a 6-0 lead with just over 18 minutes remaining. The Tigers fought back as they hit a layup followed by a hook shot and another layup on their next three possessions to take a 7-6 lead. Preston Wynne was off early hitting none of his first three shots. His teammates stepped up as they put together a 12-4 run by burying 2 three point shots and forcing a turnover by Emmanuel. As the half ticked down the Tigers of Emmanuel clawed their way back in the contest, cutting down Vanguards largest lead of 9 points down to 4 thanks to a superb job inside by Tigers stand out  #23 Michael Stanley. At the half the Lions lead the Tigers 29-25.

Emmanuel in-bounded the ball to start the second half connecting on a three point shot to trim the Lions advantage to one 29-28. After Emmanuel turned the ball over, Wynne hit a fast break layup and then a three point shot a few possessions. That helped the Lions spark a 16-7 run thanks to multiple forced turnovers and long range shooting; the Lions now lead 45-35.

Thrill of Victory Photo by Ryan Coody

Thrill of Victory
Photo by Ryan Coody

Emmanuel in-bounded the ball to start the second half connecting on a three point shot to trim the Lions advantage to one 29-28. After Emmanuel turned the ball over, Wynne hit a fast break layup and then a three point shot a few possessions. That helped the Lions spark a 16-7 run thanks to multiple forced turnovers and long range shooting; the Lions now lead 45-35.

Again the Tigers refused to quit as they gained ground over the next four minutes hitting a few lay ups inside and getting to the foul line as they closed in on the Lions 44-47. Vanguard countered with a turnaround hook shot by Keith Mason to go up five but was quickly erased by a three pointer by Emmanuel to make it a two point game 49-47 with just over five minutes remaining.

The Lions were able to weather the storm however connecting on a series of long jumpers and critical inside buckets well continuing to play their smothering half court press. In the end Wynne the best foul shooter in the NAIA was standing at the free throw line sealing the victory. 70-65. Preston Wynne finished the contest with 20 points followed closely by Chris Gorman who put up 18 points.

Spokane Tribal Citizen Preston named tournament MVP. Photo by Ryan Coody

Spokane Tribal Citizen Preston named tournament MVP. Photo by Ryan Coody

Preston was awarded the GSAC player of the Year trophy and NAIA MVP as he averaged 26.6 points through out tournament play. Last night was the 7th straight game Wynne scored 20+ points.

After the game Wynne was asked how it feels to be the first Native American to be named MVP, “It has not sunk in yet, I think it’s going to take a couple days. Right now just getting this win with this group of guys, I have no words for it right now, it’s just amazing.” Wynne was also asked about the impact of his accomplishment on Native Americans, “I hope it just opens doors, that’s my biggest thing. Everyone just follows this and I want them to know it’s doable.”

The Vanguard Lions and Preston Wynne have truly shown us over the last week that anything is possible. Thanks for the memories guys.

Charlie Perry is a staff writer for the Indian Leader and a contributing writer for NDNsports.com he can be reached at cperry52@rocketmail.com

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in The Indian Leader. Used with permission.

LINK: http://www.theindianleader.com/2014/03/26/the-vanguard-lions-win-the-naia-championship-preston-wynne-named-tournament-mvp/

 

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