The Jamestown Sun

Let the March madness in the Ozarks begin.

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On Wednesday afternoon, the No. 17-ranked Jimmies will take the court at Keeter Gymnasium on the campus of College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo., for the NAIA Division II national tournament,

It will mark the Jimmies' first national tournament berth since 2004 -- the year before coach Jeff Trumbauer, Jake Holen, Jordan Olson, Kyle Iverson and Kellen Bubach arrived on campus.

"We feel pretty good," Olson said. "We're excited to have the opportunity to play down there."

The Jimmies (23-8) posted their first Dakota Athletic Conference title and first 20-win season in four years this winter.

Last season, they were on the doorstep, on the verge of heading to the national tournament before being derailed in a postseason tournament upset loss to South Dakota Mines.

They go into the national tournament having dropped two of their last four games, with a loss to rival Valley City State in the regular-season finale and a buzzer-beater loss to Minot State in the DAC tournament championship game.

Does that mean that Jamestown College has something to prove in Branson?

"It's not so much that we have to prove anything to anybody else as it is to prove it to ourselves," Holen said. "We weren't playing for the DAC championship. That was one goal, but our main goal was to get to the national tournament."

"I think they've moved on," Trumbauer said. "I don't think it makes for more motivation. If you're not motivated going into the national tournament, something's wrong with you."

Still, the Jimmies are hoping to take something away from those late-season disappointments heading into their first-round matchup with No. 15 seed Cedarville (Ohio).

"We've had a few games where we haven't played our strongest," Olson said. "We want to go down there and show how much potential we have and play our best basketball down there."

"We've played some pretty good basketball down the stretch," Trumbauer said. "Even in the Minot loss, we had a few hiccups but for the majority of the game we did a lot of good things.

"We saw guys playing with that sense of urgency you need. Our seniors realize there aren't many games left. They left it on the floor. If we can do that and stay within our system, we can play with anybody in the country."

And the Jimmies are hoping they've learned some lessons from the losses.

"If anything, it identified some things that led to the loss," Trumbauer said. "Maybe it sharpens you up a bit. It was an opportunity to identify some weaknesses."

Sun sports editor Scott Throlson can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by e-mail at throlson@jamestownsun.com