UMC Men's Basketball Continues Preseason Success

Natalie Dillon
Crookston Times

The University of Minnesota Crookston men’s basketball team won its second and final exhibition game against Mayville with the help of Leonard Dixon’s 32-point performance. 

Dixon was 18-36 on the floor with 4 three-pointers. Rather than take all of the recognition, Dixon credited his teammates for his success on the court. 

“My teammates believe in me and tell me to shoot the ball any time I catch it,” Dixon said. “If their hand is down [the defender], just put it up. Hand down, man down, that’s what our coach kept saying. It’s really just my teammates believing in me.” 

The two teams battled back and forth in the first half. In total, there were 14 lead changes and 5 instances where the game was tied. 

The Golden Eagles got on the board first and took an early 10-6 lead with the help of Zen Goodridge, Uzo Dibiamaka, and Brian Sitzmann.  

The Comets responded with five unanswered points to take a brief 11-10 lead before Dixon regained the lead for the Golden Eagles. 

With 31-28 lead and 3:36 left in the half, Crookston looked to take the momentum into the locker room, but the Comets’ last second three-pointer secured their first half lead at 39-36. 

The Golden Eagles came out hot in the second half, as Ethan Channel had four of Crookston’s first five points.  

UMC increased its lead to 17 after 12 minutes in the half, forcing a Comets timeout.  

Mayville came out of the timeout more energized and took advantage of some Golden Eagle miscommunication on the press. After drawing up a play to break the press, UMC regained the momentum.  

“This Mayville team scraps and claws the whole time, so we had to play,” head coach Dan Weisse said. “I thought we had some miscommunications at the end.” 

Mayville had another opportunity to take the lead when Dixon, who had 17 points in the second half, committed his fourth foul with 10 minutes left in the game. To avoid Dixon fouling out, Weisse took Dixon off the court and put Sam Tiley in. 

“You just have to be ready to go,” Weisse said. “We’ve got 15 guys, and some guys might play more than others in different games, but we have to stay ready. Sam Tiley came in particularly for Leo and made some nice plays. He didn’t have any turnovers in the second half, made some open shots and was ready to go.” 

Tiley finished the game with 8 points and 2 rebounds. 

Ron Kirk Jr. also contributed to the Crookston offense when Dixon was out, as he forced a turnover and made a fast-break dunk on the other end of the court. 

The Comets got the game within 9 points with 4 minutes left to go, but Westphal got an offensive rebound and put it back up for an 11-point lead, one that Mayville couldn’t come back from. 

Aside from Dixon and Tiley, Goodridge put up 9 points with 9 rebounds to assist the Golden Eagles. Both Channel and Dibiamaka had six points, while Dibiamaka added 8 assists and 9 rebounds. Westphal and Marcus Thompson were active on the boards with 7 and 6 rebounds, respectively.  

The men’s team travels to Duluth on Friday to take on East Central University in the American Family Insurance Classic. 

Ron Kirk Jr. dunks on a breakaway
Leonard Dixon looks to block the shot
Sam Tiley takes the open shot
Uzo Dibiamaka runs into a defender
Zach Westphal goes for a layup
Ethan Channel saves a ball from going out of bounds