Penguins Finish 5th In NWAC

The Clark Penguins team stands as one The Penguins took fifth place after a loss to the Big Bend Vikings, 99-86. The Vikings placed third with the win. (Photo credit: Ryan Robbins / the Independent)

The Clark men’s basketball team heads home from the NWAC tournament with a fifth-place trophy as Big Bend took the win, 99-86, placing the Vikings third.

The defending champions could not hold on to the ball, coughing it up 11 times on the loss.

“We got exposed a little bit these last couple of games,” said head coach Alex Kirk. “Our lack of skill against these two teams showed in our turnovers.”

Big Bend took the lead early in the game and at one point led the Penguins by 16 points. Although Clark managed to tie the game several times in the second half, the Vikings ultimately pulled ahead to secure the third-place trophy.

Bryan Berg finishes the tournament on top for the Penguins with 66 points — with 30 coming from tonight’s loss — placing him as the leading scorer overall in the tournament prior to the championship game. Runner-up is Mogga Lado, from Big Bend, with 61 points and 27 coming from the win tonight.

“It’s been an unbelievable experience with this team,” Berg said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.” This was the sophomore captain’s last game.

Bryan Berg and Darrius Mathis embrace court side

Sophomore Penguins Bryan Berg (right) and Darrius Mathis embrace towards the end of the game. This was Berg’s final game with Clark. (Photo credit: Ryan Robbins / the Independent)

Fellow sophomore Darrius Mathis embraced a heavily emotional Berg as he came off the floor after playing nearly 37 minutes in his last appearance as a Clark Penguin.

“I think [Berg] is one of those kids that coaches dream about having in our program,” Kirk said. “He is a perfect example that you get out of it what you put into it.”

Clark shot just 47 percent from the field in the loss to Big Bend, who shot 58 percent. Clark made 39 points off three-pointers alone. The Penguins ended their season 23-9 after two disappointing losses in their postseason in Everett.

“I certainly knew that it was a possibility to lose to these two teams, but no, I did not expect this,” Kirk said.

Reporter Josh Brody also contributed to this story.

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