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Small colleges: After North Central basketball’s run ends, Raridon praises players

Updated: March 28, 2013 8:37AM

North Central’s run in the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament ended with a 52-44 loss to Amherst in the Final Four on a night when the shots just didn’t fall. Along the way, the Cardinals gave their fans and coach Todd Raridon plenty to remember.

“The team effort, the quality of the individuals on our team, the makeup of our team,” Raridon said, ticking off what he’ll take out of the season. “They just played well as a team. As a coach, that’s what you’re looking for, and I couldn’t be more proud of what they’ve accomplished, not only for themselves but for North Central College.”

The Cardinals (28-4) traveled to Salem, Va., last weekend, beating Middlebury 77-65 in the quarterfinals Friday before falling to Amherst on Saturday. Amherst (30-2) advanced to the championship game against Mary Hardin-Baylor (27-5) on Sunday in Atlanta.

Amherst entered the game averaging 83.8 points but shot only 15-for-48. But the Cardinals were 16-for-56 from the field, and only Landon Gamble (20 points) scored in double figures.

With a school record for victories and the program’s first Final Four appearance, Raridon hopes his players enjoyed the Salem experience.

“It was a great experience for them,” he said. “It’s something these kids will remember for a long time.”

Big splash for Nitz

It was a productive week for Kirsty Nitz at the NCAA Division III women’s swimming and diving championships in Shenandoah, Texas. The Wheaton freshman led the Thunder to a 10th-place tie behind champion Emory.

She opened last Wednesday by winning the 50-yard freestyle in 22.87 seconds. Nitz, the only woman in Division III to break 23 seconds this season, had set an NCAA record of 22.66 in the CCIW championships.

On Thursday, her time of 53.08 topped the 100-yard butterfly, just nipping Kenyon’s Hannah Saiz (53.20). Then on Saturday, she won the 200-yard backstroke in 1:57.30, a school record and the second-fastest time in Division III history.

Lake Forest’s Becky Shaak took fourth in the 1,650 freestyle in 16:55.81 after finishing ninth in the 500 freestyle in 4:54.79.

Play ball

Baseball season is under way in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. Judson (15-10, 3-0) and Roosevelt (3-8, 2-5) took their show on the road last weekend, leaving the Chicago weather to play three games at Mid-Continent University in Mayfield, Ky.

Judson won all three, 8-1, 7-3 and 7-6. Tony Rallo was hot for the Eagles all weekend, with two hits and a three-run homer in the first game, another three-run homer in the second and three hits with two RBI in the third.

The Eagles play host to North Division foe St. Xavier (9-6, 4-2) on Thursday in a doubleheader.

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