Basketball Hosts Second Annual Midway Classic

Multiple out-of-state teams will travel to Chicago this weekend to compete in the basketball Midway Classic on both the men’s and women’s sides.

By Josh Parks

Ratner Athletics Center will be full this weekend as both Chicago basketball programs host the second annual Midway Classic. This year’s Classic includes Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Ohio Wesleyan, and Springfield on the men’s side, with Heidelberg and MIT coming to campus on the women’s side.

After an impressive road victory at No. 10 Illinois Wesleyan, the women enter the Classic at a perfect 2–0 on the season. Two standout performances by third-year forward Taylor Lake earned her UAA Athlete of the Week honors, averaging 16 points, 9 rebounds and 3.5 steals per game. As expected, the Maroons will look to utilize Lake’s ability to score both in the paint and beyond the arc, causing matchup problems for opponents and stretching opposing defenses. With fourth-year preseason All-American forward Olariche Obi sidelined, first-year Klaire Steffens was inserted into the rotation, logging 29 minutes in Sunday’s victory in Bloomington and averaging 10 points and 5.5 rebounds in her first two college contests.

Among the guests this weekend is undefeated Heidelberg, coming off a convincing 81–70 victory against Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association opponent Olivet Collegelast Friday. Also joining the unbeaten teams is 2–0 MIT, looking to pick up two more road wins to add to their resume.

Asked about her team’s start to the year, fourth-year Jamie Kockenmeister said, “[Sunday’s] win showed a lot of heart and dedication.… I think our defense is finally starting to come together and our offense is getting a lot smoother.” 

Looking ahead to the weekend, Kockenmeister embraced the opportunity to compete against quality opponents. “We’re playing two strong teams that we’ve never played before, so it should be a good time to test our offense and defense against unfamiliar opponents. It should also be a great opportunity for us to show off what we have this season in front of a packed home gym.” Join the crowd this Friday as the No. 7 Maroons tip off against Heidelberg at 5 p.m. in Ratner.

Looking to break into the win column this weekend are the Chicago men after dropping a close road opener to No. 19 Illinois Wesleyan on Sunday. The South Siders’ opponents boast impressive resumes from a year ago, with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps having finished at 20–8, Ohio Wesleyan at 19–9, and Springfield, who opened with a victory against Western New England already this season, at 22–9.

Assistant coach Bryan Joel stressed the strength of the pack in this year’s Maroons squad. “We are very excited about the group we have…. We expect several players to have expanded roles from last year and we are in the unique position of having a lot of players with the ability to contribute…our strength lies in our ability to put forth a team effort every night in which everybody out there is making a big impact.” 

Encouraged about the upcoming weekend, Joel added, “The Midway Classic includes three teams who had very successful seasons last year and we are excited to square off against them in Ratner this weekend.” 

See the men in action against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 2 p.m. Saturday, followed by a Sunday matinee against Springfield or Ohio Wesleyan to cap off the Midway Classic.