Balling out for the 2021 basketball season

Kacie Kwan, Staff Writer

Dorms emptied as waves of students rushed towards Murchison Gym last Thursday night. On Oct. 21, the return of Westmont’s annual Midnight Madness saw a sea of maroon filling the stands as students crashed into each other to get a good view of the night’s festivities. Midnight Madness showcased a plethora of Westmont student talent but the stars of the night were our very own men’s and women’s basketball teams. 

For many of Westmont’s current second-years, they barely saw men’s and women’s basketball games due to strict COVID-19 protocols. Fans could not attend games to cheer on our Warriors, which evidently took a toll on both teams.

Fourth-year men’s point guard Cade Roth spoke out: “Last year, we didn’t get fans. To be honest, it hurt. There were so many times when we would have to create our own energy from the bench and we really missed you guys. That’s one thing I’m really looking forward to, having a crowd behind us to not only cheer us on when things are going well, but to pick us up when things are going south.” 

With COVID-19 restrictions lifting this year, both teams are eager to see the stands teeming with crowds once again. Second-year point guard Jalen Townsell is more than excited for the live support: “I’m super hyped to be able to play in front of a crowd again,” he said. “It’s always more fun playing when the gym is packed with fans. COVID affecting the season [the] last couple of years just makes you realize how blessed we are to play this year with fans, so we’ve got to enjoy it and play each game like it’s our last.”

Roth elaborated, “We believe that if we play every game like it’s the last time we’re ever going to lace them up, we will be really dangerous.” 

The men’s basketball team’s goals for this season are threefold: win the league, win regionals and bring home a national championship. Roth expounded on the team’s drive to accomplish these bold goals: “Our motivation stems around each other. We’ve grown so close to each other and want to see each other succeed. [Our motivation] is also for the coaching staff, Westmont as a school and, most importantly, that we would honor God in our play and in our community.” 

With plenty of new players on the 2021-2022 team, the men’s basketball team has taken steps to get to know each other on and off the court leading up to the start of the season. “I feel like we have done a good job by going to soccer or volleyball games together as well as just getting food together,” Townsell, a new addition himself, affirmed.

Roth also touched on the importance for the team to foster relationships with each other before the season started: “For most teams, having 10 new guys and only four returners would be detrimental to chemistry and camaraderie purposes, but not for us. Coach has brought in guys that: one, love the game and two, are solid people on and off the court. I have really enjoyed the deep relationships that I’ve made with my new and returning teammates, and we’re only two months into the season.” 

Townsell enters the season with a lot of hope and enthusiasm. He shared, “I’ve struggled with injuries the last couple years at my last schools, so I am just super excited to do the thing I love.” 

After a long year of stuffy indoor classes and careful mask-wearing, Midnight Madness revived the heartbeat of student life in the span of an hour. Townsell spoke for the men’s and women’s basketball teams as he shared their wishes for the upcoming season: “I hope [fans] can come to as many games as possible because it really does help us play better. Us playing better allows them to have more fun at the games and is a win-win for both of us. Come out and enjoy the games because you never know when we might not be able to have fans again!” 

Going into his last season on the basketball team, Roth imparted some wisdom and a challenge for fellow student-athletes: “Look outside of [yourself] and recognize that we have an amazing support system at Westmont . . . develop relationships with [your] teammates and other people around this community so that [you] can be playing for something bigger than just [yourself].”

The men’s basketball team’s next game will be against West Coast Baptist College on Nov. 2 in the Murchison Gym.

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