Texas Wesleyan University’s men’s basketball team plays William Penn University on Monday night as part of the final four of the NAIA Division 1 tournament.

The Rams reached the final four with an 82-73 win over Dalton State College on Saturday night after a 74-68 win over University of the Cumberlands on Thursday and a 77-75 victory over The Master’s College on Friday.

The other two teams in the final four, Louisiana State University of Alexandria and Life University, also play Monday night.

The winner of the two games will play in the NAIA national championship game at 7:02 p.m. Tuesday. The tournament is being held in Kansas City.

With 59 points, Dion Rogers has been the top scorer for the Rams in each tournament game. He wrote in a text that he feels good for what he and the team have accomplished, and that he expects Monday’s game to be “a good one.”

“It’s a great feeling to make it this far,” Rogers wrote. “Everything is clicking with us and I feel like the team is on the same page. I have a lot of confidence going in to the next game. It should be another good one.” 

Though he doesn’t know a lot about what he’s up against on Monday and, if the team wins, Tuesday’s championship game, Rogers said he has confidence in the Rams’ ability to snag the national title.

“I don’t really know much about any of the other teams,” Rogers said. “But I do think that we are highly capable of securing this year’s national title as long as we stick to the plan and do everything that we have been doing that got us this far already.”

Rogers said he could see himself improving as the Rams continue to play and, overall, it’s the mental state that contributes to whether or not that happens.

“I believe that there is always room for improvement,” Rogers said. “When it comes to performance, it’s a matter of ‘want to.’ You have to tap into that mental stability and fight through whatever it may be that stops you from performing well.”

Fellow senior guard Trevon Jeffery, who has given the Rams 29 points, six turnovers, and 15 rebounds in the tournament, wrote in a text message that he feels no pressure and isn’t concerned with any potential hiccups or with what the other team’s bringing.

“I don’t feel any pressure,” he said. “This is what we have been working [on] all year to put [ourselves] in this position. Nothing concerns me. About the other team – not worried about them, ever. Only thing concerns me with myself is how my body feels and just getting it going.”

Like several of his teammates, Jeffery said he is joyful at being in the tournament.

“Just thankful to be playing still, and thankful that our team is playing the way we are at this time right now,” he said. “[And] we only getting better still.”

Senior guard Pat Listach has given the Rams 11 points, four defensive rebounds, and one assist in the tournament so far. He said the Rams are ecstatic to be in the tournament and will to continue to keep fighting.

“We’re all excited to be here and I know what [our] team is capable of,” Listach wrote in a text. “If we keep fighting the way we have been these past few games, we can keep this going for sure. Nobody wants to see it stop, and with the brotherhood that we have as a team we will always fight, no matter what to try to get to that next game.”

Head coach Brennen Shingleton wrote in an email that the Rams are seasoned and prepared to secure another victory, but it won’t be easy.

 “We’ve just stuck to what works for our team,” he wrote. “We are priding ourselves on team defense, our conditioning and leadership. I think this team is tough. There are only four teams left playing right now, so obviously everyone here is very good! I love my team, and I think we are ready to try to get another win.”

The Rams’ game against William Penn starts at 8 p.m. and can be seen at naianetwork.com.

 

 

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Matt Smith

Matt Smith is a junior English major with a minor in mass communication at Texas Wesleyan University. He graduated from Tarrant County College’s Southeast campus in Arlington with an associate’s degree. Matt is a content producer for the Rambler Media Group. In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing, watching cunning television shows and unique movies, YouTubers with distinct content and personalities and playing an occasional video game or two.

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