For basketball fans in the United States, March has become synonymous with the thrills of tournament excitement as high schools and colleges take their seasons to the crescendo and award championship titles.
While the NCAA tournament may have top billing, former Danville Warrior Jordan Weidner and his fellow Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats made the most of their version of March Madness by winning the NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball national championship on March 18 at College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo.
IWU came into Missouri as the fifth-seeded team out of 32, but swept through its five opponents by no less than 10 points. Its closest game came in the title contest, where the Wildcats defeated 10th-seeded Midland (Neb.), 78-68.
It was Weidner, a 6-foot-2 senior guard, who proved the difference-maker. He led IWU with 21 points in the championship game and was named outstanding player for the tournament. Most recently, Weidner was also named NAIA D-II First Team All-American, capping off a golden exit to his college playing days.
“This was probably one of the most fun weeks of my life,” Weidner said. “We just came together well and played great team basketball. This has been one of the most rewarding moments of my life. With all of the effort and time put it, and (to win) in my last go-round has been a dream.”
Weidner finished out his college career atop the NAIA world. He led IWU to its first-ever national title by averaging 23 points while hitting 51.4 percent from the field. He also pulled down 4.4 rebounds and dished 5.6 assists in five tournament contests.
IWU coach Greg Tonagel was quick to salute Weidner for helping take his team to the summit.
“Jordan has pretty much been the heart and soul of our team for the last four years,” Tonagel said. “He is such a competitor and has a huge will. He gives his teammates a lot of confidence, and we saw that every single game in the national tournament.”