The 2017 senior class of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point men’s basketball have been through quite the journey over their careers.
In the 2014-15 season, Brad Freeborn, Caden Untiedt, Jared Gjertson and Aaron Retzlaff inserted themselves into Pointer sports lore as sophomores, winning that year’s NCAA Division III championship.
Two years later, they welcomed a 20-point-per-game scoring transfer from Lancaster Bible College, Bryce Williams to the UWSP family.
Together the five seniors played instrumental roles in finishing one of the most challenging seasons in school history.
This season featured a conference preseason prediction of sixth place, a self-imposed postseason ban and interim head coach Kent Dernbach stepping up in the wake of head coach Bob Semling’s suspension.
When asked about what they will miss most about being pointer athletes, Williams said,”Everything about being a Pointer. The process, the games, the incredible fans. The coaches pushed me to another level that expanded my level of play. And the team-bonding.”
“Being with my teammates every day,” Untiedt said.
Freeborn said, “My teammates. The friendships gained and memories made with each of my teammates the last four years will be cherished forever.”
“The friendships with my teammates and the time spent together off the court,” Gjertson said.
The camaraderie displayed by this year’s team led the Pointers to a 14-10 finish, including an 8-6 record in conference play, good for a tie for fourth in the conference.
The team amassed wins over multiple ranked teams over the course of the season, including a season sweep of Eau Claire, 20th-ranked North Central, and a road victory over then 12th-ranked Hope College in December.
The senior Pointers concluded their careers with a riveting 88-78 win at home over UW-La Crosse.
Williams said the win at Hope “at their place, in front of a sold out arena” is his favorite memory as a UWSP player, as well as conversations with his teammates in the locker room.
Freeborn, Gjertson, Untiedt and Retzlaff each cited the 2015 national title win as their favorite memory. However, the national title may not be the seniors’ biggest impact on UWSP basketball.
Their selflessness and leadership under adversity will undoubtedly carry on into the future of the program, even if they have already played their last game at Bennett Court.
Dernbach said that this group of players has been special for the UWSP men’s basketball program.
“After the adversity that they had to fight through, it’s as special as the national title run in 2015,” Dernbach said.