The difference is only 45 miles or, for those who love numbers, 79,200 yards.
That is the distance between Missouri Western State University and Northwest Missouri State University. The Griffons will make that trip to take on their rivals this Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
The Griffons last played the first place Bearcats on Jan. 9, falling to Northwest 66-60. The Bearcats have clinched their own tournament birth and the MIAA championship. This won’t stop either team from giving it their all on Saturday. With rivalries comes bad blood, and no matter what the standings are, both teams will be all in believes head coach Brett Weiberg.
“It’s just really good for the fan bases and really good for the schools,” Weiberg said.
Western has been on a roll as of late, winning three of four and earning their first road victory of the season at Central Oklahoma. The Griffons have been inconsistent on the road and Weiberg and the team are still looking for a solution.
“Maybe it’s just consistent that we have been poor on the road,” Weiberg said. “If I could tell you why or how then maybe we could fix it.”
It has been a mixture of players leading the Griffons in their victories this season. In their victory against Lindenwood, it was Trey Sampson leading the way, and in their victory against Central Oklahoma, it was Cole Clearman.
Weiberg knows that it takes a true team effort for the Griffons to be successful.
“You know this team doesn’t have a true go-to guy,” Weiberg said. “So in order to win you need everybody contributing.”
The man that Western must stop on Saturday is Northwest’s leading scorer, Justin Pitts. Pitts is fifth in the MIAA, averaging 21 points per game. He led the Bearcats with 29 points in their first win against Western.
“Against Northwest, you have to contain Pitts to a certain degree,” Weiberg said.
Western has a team of talented players and they feel they’re capable of beating anyone in the MIAA.
“I don’t think there is a team in our conference that relies on each other like we do,” Weiberg said.
The Griffons will finish off their regular season schedule next week with home games against Central Missouri and Washburn. The MIAA tournament will start on March 1.