It’s double the fun for Westmont basketball fans

Westmont is hosting not one, but two college basketball tournaments this week, as the women’s GSAC Challenge doubles up with the men’s Tom Byron Classic on Wednesday and Thursday.

The return of Dan Rasp and Preston Branson can be considered great Christmas gifts for the Warriors’ men’s team. Westmont (8-3) was without its two leading scorers as Rasp missed the previous three games because of a bad ankle while Branson was out for two games with a hurt knee.

Branson has emerged as Westmont’s leading scorer in his sophomore year and brings back 16.4 points a game. Rasp, a top-10 career scorer at Westmont, has put up 13.8 points in eight games.

The Tom Byron Classic is in its 35th year, attracting Valley City State from North Dakota, British Columbia and Bethany Lutheran from Minnesota. The Warriors, who open up against Minnesota’s Bethany Lutheran at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, have reached the tournament’s championship game every year but one.

The GSAC Challenge, which was hosted at California Baptist last year, features the Cal Baptist plus Georgetown of Kentucky and Westminster from Utah. Three of the four schools involved in the GSAC Challenge, with the exception of Georgetown, are ranked in the country’s Top-25.

The No. 21 Warriors’ women’s team opens up at 5:30 p.m. against No. 11 Westminster. On the line is Westmont’s undefeated home record this season, currently standing at 5-0. Unlike the men’s team, the Warrior women (8-2) have avoided injury this season and have taken the court with the same starting lineup in all 10 games.

Vanessa Farias leads four Warriors who average double-digit scoring with a 12.4 ppg. All four – Farias, Katie Kittle, Angel Blanco, and Elizabeth Evancoe – are starters along with the team’s leading rebounder in Lisa Peterson, who adds almost nine points per game.

The 7:30 p.m. Byron Classic games on Wednesday and Thursday can be heard on the radio locally on 1290 AM.

TOM BYRON SCHEDULE

Wednesday, December 29
Valley City State (N.D.) vs. British Columbia, 3:00 p.m.
Westmont hosts Bethany Lutheran (Minn.), 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, December 30
Consolation Game, 3:00 p.m.
Championship Game, 7:30 p.m.

GSAC CHALLENGE SCHEDULE

Wednesday, December 29
Georgetown (Ky.) vs. No. 17 California Baptist, 1:00 p.m.
Westmont hosts No. 11 Westminster (Utah), 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, December 30
No. 11 Westminster vs. No. 17 California Baptist, 1:00 p.m.
Westmont hosts Georgetown (Ky.), 5:30 p.m.

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