March magic: Local one win away from D-III national title |

March magic: Local one win away from D-III national title

Nate PetersonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

SALEM, Va. The opposing team was from a college named Hope, but it was Woody Creek local Moss Schermerhorn and his Washington University teammates who kept their dreams of a Division III national championship alive Friday night in Salem, Va.Against the country’s top ranked team, Schermerhorn and the Bears, from St. Louis, didn’t disappoint in their second-straight trip to the Final Four, earning an 89-74 win that put them in Saturday’s national championship game.In its first national championship appearance, Washington U (24-6) will face Amherst (Mass.) at 2 p.m. (MST). The Lord Jeffs (26-3) won Friday’s other semifinal over Ursinus (Penn.), 84-58. Washington U and Amherst were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the preseason poll before taking detouring paths to the final.Reached by phone earlier this week, Schermerhorn, a 6-foot-6 senior reserve forward, said another run to Salem was a dream come true – although it was making focusing on midterm exams a bit difficult. It might also force his parents, George and Helen, to cut their food budget in half until December. The pair has been ping-ponging back-and-forth across the country the past three weeks to be in the stands for all of their son’s games.”It’s really amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything better than to have them at every game,” Schermerhorn said. “Our team is made up of guys from all over the country and it’s amazing, just how many of the parents have traveled to support us. It’s really cool to come out of the locker room and be greeted by all of them.”

“We might have to eat macaroni for the next six months, but that’s fine by me,” George Schermerhorn joked earlier this week before leaving Aspen for Salem. The trip back to the Final Four certainly wasn’t a sure thing after the Bears lost to the University of Chicago in the University Athletic Association championship game earlier this month. The loss put them on the road for the first two rounds of the DIII men’s tournament.

Washington U defeated No. 17 College of Wooster (Ohio), 79-74, in the first round, then No. 6 Augustana College (Ill.), 70-67, in overtime in the second round.

That win earned the Bears home court advantage for the sectional round, where they pulled out another overtime win – 85-77 over Buena Vista (Iowa) – before downing No. 14 Millsaps College (Miss.) to punch their ticket to Salem.”We kind of hit a couple of speed bumps during the season,” Schermerhorn said. “Our point guard went down early, and I kind of had some doubts about how well we were going to do. We readjusted, and we’re playing really well together right now.”In Friday’s win, Bears All-American Troy Ruths – who starts ahead of Schermerhorn – scored a game-high 30 points.According to a report off Washington U’s website, Ruths was 11-of-15 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free-throw line, recording his fourth game in his career with 30 or more points.

Schermerhorn logged 16 minutes off the bench in the win, finishing with three points on 3-of-4 shooting from the free-throw line. He also pulled down six rebounds and had three assists.The Bears shot 55.8 percent (29-52) from the field and outrebounded Hope, 37-32. The Bears shot 65.4 percent (17-26) from the field in the second half, putting the game away with 14-3 run to jump out to a commanding 75-61