COLUMBIA — Saturday night’s American Midwest Tournament semifinal game featured Williams Baptist forward Kyle Harvey, the conference’s leading scorer, and Columbia College forward Jordan Dressler, the reigning conference Player of the Year. But it was a reserve coming off an injury that stole the show.
“I just had an opportunity and took it,” Columbia's Brock Walker said of his performance Saturday. Wearing a brace to protect his right shoulder, the junior tied his season high with 13 points. Ten of those came in a pivotal five-minute stretch in the first half of Columbia College’s 97-56 AMC Tournament semifinal win.
Walker dislocated his shoulder going after a loose ball on Feb. 14. Because of delays caused by the snow, he wasn’t cleared to play until Thursday, when he returned in the Cougars’ quarterfinal win in a limited role. But he played 20 minutes Saturday without restrictions, and took the game over for stretches in the first half.
“We lost Brock for a while and we survived that,” coach Bob Burchard said. “Then he finally got released and all of a sudden you understand what he brings to the floor.”
With the Cougars (No.1 NAIA ranking; 32-0 overall) up by a dozen early, Walker entered off the bench and made an impact on three straight possessions. He hit two consecutive three pointers, then stole an inbound pass and threw a lob pass to Cougars guard Chantel Stanciel who finished an alley-oop layup to make the score 29-12.
“Brock is a really good shooter,” Cougars guard Tanner Sutton said. “This team, the way they play defense, they don’t guard the reversal big man. He (Dressler) went 4-4 last time we played them, so we thought they would guard that. They guarded him (Dressler) better. But they didn’t think Brock could shoot, I guess. But he can shoot.”
Walker beat Dressler in a shooting contest a few weeks ago in practice, something Sutton teased Dressler about Saturday night. Dressler is known for having an exceptional long-range shot for a big man.
“We actually established in practice a couple of weeks ago that Brock is our best post shooter,” Sutton said, laughing.
“It was one contest,” Dressler said in response. “We shot ten shots. It's got to be a larger sample size, though. Maybe he beats me three times in a row then maybe I’ll admit it.”
Dressler hit two threes of his own Saturday on his way to 13 points. Marquette Murrell led all Columbia College players with 14, and Derrick Dilworth chipped in 12. In total, six Cougars scored in double figures.
“Our individual stats don’t jump out at you,” Burchard said. “But that’s who we are. That’s who we’ve always been.”
“I wouldn’t trade any of those individual stats for the number on the left hand side (of the scoreboard),” he said.
Columbia College hosts Park University 7 p.m. Tuesday in the AMC Tournament final.