Men’s basketball season ends at home, multiple athletes earn All-Conference honors


Noah Nelson, Sports Editor

Tuesday, Feb. 21 marked the end of the 2022-23 Viterbo Men’s Basketball season with a heartbreaking loss at home to a team that was seeded much lower than Viterbo. Despite the tough loss, numerous athletes made All-Conference teams, and the roster is in great shape for a run next year.  


The final game of the men’s season was in the opening round of the North Star Athletic Conference (NSAA) tournament. The V-Hawks were ranked second in the conference going into the event and were set to face off against sixth-seeded Waldorf. They had lost to Waldorf in the final game of the regular season and were hoping to avoid dropping two in a row.  


From the opening buzzer, it was clear that Waldorf had the momentum. The first half was a blowout; the men looked out of sorts, and they fell early by 25 points. Waldorf’s lead was cut to 17 by the end of the half with buckets by Juniors Dakota Mannel, Cole Crubel and Keegen Severin. 

In the second half, the V-Hawks mounted a comeback sparked by Dakota Mannel and Jack Monis. Monis, two-time player of the year and the team’s leading scorer, started the half with 11 of the team’s first 16 points which cut the lead to 10. The lead was cut even further to three by defensive heroics and a flurry of tough buckets from Dakota Mannel. 


Waldorf’s lead was never cut below that, and the 25-point deficit was too much to overcome. The final score was 72-62 in favor of Waldorf. Dakota Mannel was the game’s leading scorer, putting up 24 points. He also led the V-Hawks in assists with six. 


After the season, the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) announced their awards, and four V-Hawks made the list. Jack Monis was selected as First-Team All-Conference for the third consecutive year. He averaged a career high in points with 16.3 PPG and shot 68.1% from the floor. This was Monis’s fourth year for the team, but due to COVID-19 exemption rules, he will be returning for a fifth-year next year. 

Two other V-Hawks made All-Conference teams as well: Freshman Ben Olson was named to the Second-Team All-Conference, and Robert Cunitz was chosen as an All-Conference Honorable Mention. This was Cunitz’s third All-Conference award, tacking onto another Honorable-Mention and a Second-Team award. This marks the end of Cunitz’s career; the five-year starter finishes with 12th most points in school history (1408) and fifth most 3-pointers made (212). 


Ben Olson was a standout Freshman in a team primarily comprised of upper-classman leaders, winning the NSAA Conference Freshman of the year on top of his Second-Team All-Conference award. He averaged 13.8 points and 4.5 rebounds on 54% shooting, matching Cunitz for second leading scorer on the team.  


One of the team’s sharpshooters, Cole Crubel, was also chosen for an award by the NSAA committee, winning the Champion of Character award for embodying the NAIA’s core values of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and servant leadership. Crubel’s best game of the season was a 21-point performance where he shot five of ten from three in a blowout win against Valley City State. 


The Men’s Basketball season did not end unceremoniously. The team fought until the end and almost came back from a near-insurmountable deficit. Despite the unfortunate loss, there will be multiple returning All-Conference athletes that hope to make a run next season.