Despite cancellations, men’s basketball continues to roll through the Horizon League

Men’s basketball remains on top of the Horizon League, going into the last stretch of the season

The Cleveland State University men’s basketball team begins the month of February with a 14-5 record and a 10-2 record in Horizon League play. 

The Vikings had a tumultuous winter break as four games were canceled because of COVID-19 complications in December and January. Cleveland State also had a stretch from Dec. 13 to Dec. 30 in which they played no games as it forced them to quarantine.

But the Vikings did not allow their extended break to dampen their spirits. Senior guard Deshon Parker said that dealing with COVID was difficult, but the Vikings could adapt.

“The long break was definitely difficult after being in quarantine,” Parker said. “Our coaches did a great job of keeping us engaged with zoom meetings, film sessions, and team bonding exercises. Being able to be around the team–although virtually–brought us closer. We were definitely excited to get back on the floor, though, once we could get back to practice and games.”

Senior Deante Johnson slams the ball in a match against Green Bay. Photo courtesy of Vikings Athletics

The Vikings suffered one loss during their winter break. It came on Jan. 13 against the Vikings Horizon League rival Oakland Golden Grizzlies. Then, on Jan. 30, the Vikings suffered another tough loss to Northern Kentucky, another Horizon League foe, which knocked Cleveland State’s Horizon League record down to 10-2.

The Vikings are not letting their tough losses to Oakland and Northern Kentucky hold them down. Cleveland State looks to use its adversity to its advantage.

“As a team, we don’t look at games as losses, we look at them as lessons, and Northern Kentucky was a lesson for us,” Parker said. “We will definitely take things from that game and use it as we move forward through the rest of the season. One thing about this team is that we know we will bounce back, and our best basketball is ahead of us as we look forward to the rest of the Horizon League schedule.”

Even with some struggles, the Vikings still know that they have loads of potential. The Vikings’ talent was on display in a Jan. 21 64-61 victory over Youngstown State. While holding a 62-61 lead with mere seconds remaining, Vikings senior Torrey Patton drew a charge on defense to give his team the ball back and quickly connected with senior Tre Gomillion on the in-bounds pass who then sealed the victory with a dunk.

As Cleveland State continues its season, they know that the key to success is teamwork. “I think our ability to play for each other and not for ourselves has been a big key to our success so far,” Parker said.

“We stay connected as a team through the ups and downs of a game–and of the season–and we keep the Level five energy no matter what is happening. The entire team has the ‘next play’ mentality, and we understand that if we keep all of these things going, we will be successful throughout the rest of the season.”

You can catch the Vikings in action at the Wolstein Center at 7 p.m. for their next game on Feb. 10 against conference opponent UIC.