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Falcons Ring In New Year With Championship In Adidas Slam
The Messiah Falcons traveled to Miami, Florida, to ring in the New Year with two wins.

Miami, FL - A little sun, time on the beach, and two impressive wins for the Falcons on the final weekend of 2011.

Happy New Year, indeed.

The Messiah men's basketball team grabbed two double-digit victories in the Adidas Slam Tournament in Miami, Florida, this weekend, moving their record to 6-5 as they head into 2012. The wins pushed the Falcons above .500 for the first time since before Thanksgiving as they prepare for one final non-conference game prior to continuing their Commonwealth schedule.

On Friday, the Falcons downed Manhattanville College 71-54 behind the double-digit scoring of Brad Bolen, David Fernandez, and Taylor Groff who scored 22, 20, and 15 points respectively. Bolen scored 18 of his points in the first half as the Falcons opened up a 52-25 lead at the intermission.

"We really took advantage of our ability to break their pressure and get quality looks," said Messiah head coach Rick Van Pelt. "We shot the ball extremely well, and defensively we limited their opportunities. It was a all-around good game for us."

The Falcons shot 58.7% for the game in the win, including an impressive 9-19 shooting from three-point range. The Falcons outrebounded the Valiants 27-18, and received an additional boost from the return of starting center Jeremiah Runkle.

"It was great to get Runk back," said Van Pelt, as Runkle collected four points and five rebounds in his season debut. "He's very important for our interior play, and really allows us to be balanced with the rest of our lineup."

With the loss, the Valiants dropped to 4-6 on the season.

In Saturday's championship game of the Adidas Slam Tournament, hosted at Florida Christian School, the Falcons defeated St. Vincent College 60-45. Fernandez continued his strong play over the weekend with 18 points on 8-11 shooting. Derek Mosley collected 11 points with Runkle adding 10 points and four rebounds.

Unlike the game with Manhattanville, Messiah found themselves in a close battle at halftime as they held a slim, 28-26 advantage. A strong performance from the field (51% overall) propelled the Falcons to their sixth win of the year.

The loss dropped St. Vincent to 8-4 overall.

Runkle was named to the All-Tournament team while Fernandez, playing at his high school alma mater, was named the tournament's MVP. Across the two games, Fernandez shot 17-23 on his way to collecting 38 points, four rebounds, and four assists.

"This was a great weekend for us," said Van Pelt, whose team will prepare for a match-up with non-conference rival Gettysburg College on Wednesday, January 4. "We played good team basketball, executed well, and found the results we were looking for. It's also nice to have the opportunity to travel down here to Florida. We've had a great trip."

After the Falcons square off with Gettysburg on Wednesday, the team will enter the remainder of their Commonwealth scheduled. Currently 1-1 in the conference thus far, the remaining 12 Commonwealth contests will determine if the Falcons will compete in their fourth straight Commonwealth Championships tournament.