By John Brodbeck
Sports Information Director
(Notre Dame, Ind.) The Holy Cross men's basketball program enjoyed another successful season under third year head coach Bob Schermerhorn who has guided the Saints to back-to-back 14 win seasons as well as back-to-back first round play-off wins in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC). The conclusion of the 2012-2013 season also marks the end of an era as coach Horn has announced his intentions to retire.
"I was very proud of how hard the team worked throughout this season," said coach Horn. "After the rough start to open the season I thought the guys did a much better job of playing together and finding ways to win games."
The Saints kicked off the season on the road against local power house Bethel College in a game that left a sour taste in the team's mouth.
"That wasn't the ideal way to kick off the year," continued coach Horn. "We knew we needed to reevaluate some things if we wanted to win some games."
The struggles continued in their first CCAC game of the season on the road at Purdue North Central where the Saints fell just short, dropping them to 0-2 to open the season.
Things didn't seem like they'd get any easier with local rival Indiana University-South Bend next up on the schedule. However, the Saints pulled off their first victory of the season against the Titans in their home opener after another tightly contested matchup between the two programs. The win marked the third straight time Holy Cross had defeated the Titans.
The IUSB win was the spark that jump started the Saints into playing solid basketball in the early portion of the season. They rallied off three straight victories and had beaten fellow conference opponent Olivet Nazarene for the first time in program history.
Senior All-Conference guard Yama Kader (Mission Viejo, Cali.) had a lot to do with the Saints upset win over the Tigers. In the game Kader set not only career highs, but school records with 44 points scored and 9 3-pointers made. The Saints would win two more games in November to give them a record of 5-3 during the month.
After dropping their first game in December, the Saints rallied off an impressive four game win streak to give them a record of 9-5; their best start in the history of the program. A loss to Saint Francis ended the Saints streak and sent them into holiday break still in good shape at 9-6.
The month of January proved to be the most difficult month for the Saints. After coming back from two weeks away from game action, the Saints dropped their first contest of the New Year on the road at Trinity International where hot 3-point shooting by the Trojans, and missed free-throws by the Saints, made it difficult to come back from.
The Saints picked up their first win in 2013 at home against Purdue North Central, ending their previous three game losing streak. However, following the victory the Saints fell into their biggest slump of the season where they dropped six consecutive games bringing their season record to 10-14. An impressive 80-55 road victory at Calumet College of St. Joseph helped put the Saints back into the win column at the end of January and build some momentum for the final month of the regular season.
Early February was very positive for Holy Cross as they rallied off two quick victories over Judson and Purdue Calumet to extend their winning streak to three games. Both wins for the Saints helped them clinch season sweeps over both the Eagles and Peregrines.
Ensuing losses to the University of Saint Francis and Trinity International had the Saints heading into senior day on February 16th against the No. 7 ranked Cougars of Saint Xavier University.
Prior to the start of the game against the Cougars, the Saints honored their two seniors Yama Kader and Mike Vander Ploeg (Kalamazoo, Mich.); both players have been an instrumental part of the team's success over the past two seasons where they have combined to win a total of 28 games.
Saint Xavier once again proved to be a tough matchup for the Saints as they fell 110-75 to close out the regular season with a 13-17 record.
With the regular season in the books, the Saints first round matchup had them heading to Deerfield, Illinois to take on Trinity International University. Previously, the Trojans had swept the Saints during the regular season.
Unlike the previous two meetings, the Saints got off to a fast start against the Trojans and really controlled the tempo of the game. Senior Mike Vander Ploeg had a career day scoring the ball after finishing with a game high 24 points to lead the Saints to a 90-78 victory and first round upset over the Trojans. After the first round win, the Saints headed to Chicago, Illinois to once again face-off with the Cougars of Saint Xavier University.
After lopsided meetings in the previous two matchups, the team demonstrated a manta that head coach Bob Schermerhorn implemented when he first took over the head coaching job: "we play hard." That's exactly what the team did during that quarter final matchup.
Despite trailing by double figures for the majority of the game, the Saints hard work and competitiveness found them cutting the Cougars lead to as little as seven points with 1:50 left in the game. Unfortunately, the Saints were unable to pull off the comeback and saw their season end.
Seniors Yama Kader and Mike Vander Ploeg turned impressive final outings to close out their Holy Cross careers. Kader finished with a team-high 23 points while Vander Ploeg scored 18 of his own while dishing out 6 assists.
The Saints ended the 2012-2013 season with a 14-18 record, matching a program best with wins, and had a heck of a lot to be proud of.
"When all is said and done, I'm extremely proud of how the guys played this season," continued Schermerhorn. "When tested with adversity the guys didn't give up. Our schedule was a lot more difficult this year playing the Division I teams twice and I thought we did a good job of showing we belonged. It was a fun ride for me and I feel honored to have coached this team."
Coach Horn will leave Holy Cross as the All-Time winningest coach and will forever be remembered by more than just our coach. He was a friend to all and always had a story to tell! Thanks for the memories coach, and enjoy your retirement!
Parker Dominguez (Santa Clarita, Cali.) started and appeared in all 32 games for the Saints this season; he was the only player to do so.
Yama Kader will leave Holy Cross scoring 967 career points in two seasons; good for second All-Time.
Four players recorded double-doubles for the Saints during the season: Brandon Evans (Grand Rapids, Mich.) and Parker Dominguez led the team with four and Darrell McIntyre (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Clayton Webb (Dallas, Tex.) each registered one.
The Saints matched a program best winning streak lasting four games (12/8-12/15).
Coach Horn defeated Olivet Nazarene University for the first time as head coach of Saints.
On behalf of Holy Cross College Athletics, we'd like to congratulate the Saints on another outstanding basketball season!
We'd also like to thank you, the fans, for all of your support! You are what make the games so fun!
Until next time, enjoy the offseason and as always, GO SAINTS!