Men’s basketball secures senior night victory over Missouri Southern


Jesse Bruner

The Washburn boys basketball seniors pose before the game Thursday Feb. 24, 2022, at Lee Arena in Topeka, Kansas. Washburn defeated Missouri Southern 81-69 in the game.

Now winners of four in a row, Washburn men’s basketball played host to Missouri Southern on senior night in the the final game at Lee Arena for six of the team’s players.

“Definitely blessed to be a part of it (the program), and just the guys I have been here with for the last five years has been awesome. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and I would do it again if I got the chance tomorrow,” said senior guard Tyler Geiman.

The celebration continued into the night as the Ichabods rattled off a fifth straight win, defeating the Lions 81-69.

Among the group of six were three former all-conference selections: juniors Jonny Clausing and Jalen Lewis, and Geiman, a two-time first team member.

“These guys have won a lot of games, MIAA tournament championship, NCAA tournament games and a lot of games in their time here, so they should be proud,” said head coach Brett Ballard. “I am even prouder of just the people that they are, and what they are going to represent leaving out of Washburn.”

Those leaving are one of the first groups to have spent their entire careers with Ballard, including Geiman, who was the lone member to join Ballard at Washburn five seasons ago.

“I love Coach Ballard and my teammates. It’s awesome to come out here in Lee Arena and play, so I definitely enjoyed it,” Geiman said.

The win moved Washburn to 18-9 and kept them at fifth place in the MIAA.

Each team was slow to start offensively, with the Ichabods controlling a one point 7-6 lead after five minutes. The lead would change hands back and forth over the next few minutes until Geiman started scoring for Washburn.

Geiman got to the line six times and knocked down a couple of jump shots to quickly get into double figures on his way to 17 first half points.

That production- coupled with eight turnovers for Missouri Southern in the first 15 minutes- created some separation, with the Ichabods going ahead by double digits at the 4:49 mark.

“I really like where our defense is at. I think we are guarding, and challenging and not giving up any easy baskets,” Ballard said.

The Lions reeled off a 9-2 run to pull within three points with just over two minutes left in the half. Washburn quickly responded, with scores by Geiman and junior guard Jalen Lewis putting the lead back up to eight before going into half with a 36-28 advantage.

The second half began like the first, with each side trading baskets for the first five minutes. Some separation was created by the Ichabods after back-to-back shots inside from Lewis and junior guard Jonny Clausing, putting Washburn up by 13 at the 13:22 mark and forcing a timeout.

Over the next five minute stretch the lead grew to as many as 15, with the Ichabods getting balanced production from multiple players on all levels of the floor.

Free throws from Missouri Southern freshman Avery Taggart put him over 20 for the game and cut the lead to just nine points at the 6:01 mark.

The lead remained a point north or south of 10 until Geiman and sophomore guard Connor Deffebaugh connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to put Washburn back up by 13 with just over two minutes to play.

The lead only grew from there- up to as many as 18 at one point-, and with a strong defensive effort to finish, the Ichabods claimed an 81-69 win.

“I still think we can shoot it a little better, which I think we will, but I like the rhythm we are in. We got some momentum now and we got some big ones coming up,” Ballard said.

Geiman finished with 23 points and 8 rebounds, both pacing the team. Lewis added 18 points and seven rebounds. Deffebaugh and Clausing both finished in double figures with 15 and 11 respectively.

The win is the fifth in a row for Washburn, who move to 18-9 overall and 15-6 in MIAA play. It also sets them up to face Emporia State to close the regular season, and in the first round of the MIAA tournament.

“We are healthy, practicing well and playing well,” Geiman said. “It’s time to go now. The train is rolling and let’s keep winning.”

The Ichabods’ first game against the Hornets will be on Saturday, Feb. 26 to close out the regular season.

Edited by: Ellie Walker, Justin Shepard