ANKENY, Iowa—Over the course of history, there are games and circumstances that are so unique, so memorable, and so bizarre that they earn their own title. The Kansas City Royals have The Pine Tar Incident. The Minnesota Vikings have The Minnesota Miracle. The Chicago Bears have The Fog Bowl. Thanks to some crazy events that happened in the Faith Eagles men's basketball game Friday night, Faith has a game that will forever be known as "The Silent Night Game."
From now, until the Lord returns, the story of the Faith men's basketball game from December 13, 2019, against Holy Family College will grow like a tall tale that would make Paul Bunyan proud. Imagine Tanner Van Beek, Chase Clark, and the rest of the players from this year's team, as they sit their children and grandchildren around the fire, nestle into their rocking chair, and tell the story of The Silent Night Game, as the little ones lie on the floor, resting their chins in their hands, giving their full attention to every detail that is retold, like a traditional reading of The Night Before Christmas.
It will go something like this…
Silent Night was the planned theme for the last men's home basketball game of the semester before students and athletes headed home for the holidays. Ugly Christmas sweaters were worn in place of warmup tops, Christmas tunes played over the loudspeakers, and the sellout crowd was informed that the men's team would lead the gymnasium in singing Silent Night at the conclusion of the game.
The irony was, all was not calm in the Nettleton Center as the Eagles took down the Lakers of Holy Family, 89-81. The Lakers were rung up for five technical fouls. It was, in fact, quite the antithesis of a Silent Night. Three of those technical fouls came in the chaotic span of 50 seconds in the first half, leading to six points for the Eagles as they stretched their lead from seven to 13 with 8:05 to play. Faith used that, along with a great shooting effort in the first twenty minutes (50 percent from the floor; 4-of-7 from three), to carry a 12 point lead into the locker room. Kalab Sidlinger was red-hot for the Eagles, scoring 13 points while making three out of four three-point attempts in the 50-point half for Faith.
Holy Family made its comeback attempt early in the second half, cutting the lead to just four points with 14:24 remaining before another big three-pointer by Sidlinger pushed the lead back to seven. An impressive dunk by the Lakers (what will probably be told as a 360 dunk twenty years from now, but it wasn't) cut the lead to six with just under ten minutes remaining, but a taunting technical was called on Holy Family, followed by an additional technical foul from a Holy Family player's reaction. The Eagles turned those opportunities into three points and the Lakers were never able to recover as Faith held them at arm's length the remainder of the game.
Faith had four players score in double figures in the win. Kalab Sidlinger finished with 21 points, followed by Jayce Goergen with 18, Nathan Keck with 15, and Tanner Van Beek with 14. Goergen was 15-of-18 from the free-throw line.
Twenty years from now, at their 2040 class reunion, Chase Clark and Tanner Van Beek will still be talking about The Silent Night Game: the one where the players all wore ugly Christmas sweaters, the opposing team got five technical fouls, the Eagles led the crowd in singing Silent Night at the end…and whatever other details become part of the lore of one of the more unique games in school history.