By BRIAN LESTER
It was during a crazy stretch late in the season for the University of Findlay men’s basketball team where Greg Kahlig took his game to another level. A level you never expect to witness from a player, but somehow, Kahlig made the unthinkable come true.
There was a stretch of three consecutive games where he scored 39 or more points, including back-to-back 40-point games on the road, and then, of course, there was the insane, unreal 55-point game he turned in against Walsh in the semifinal round of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament.
Kahlig was in a zone, focused as a player can be, and his efforts helped the Oilers finish as GLIAC South Division champions and GLIAC tournament champions. He also helped UF nail down a spot in the NCAA Division II tournament.
The thing about all four of the big games I mentioned is that GK turned in those performances in big moments. He scored 40 against Lake Erie in Painesville on a day when the Oilers needed all 40 to avoid what would have been a devastating loss to the Storm. UF rallied for a 79-69 win.
Kahlig lit up the scoreboard for 42 in the hostile environment of Alumni Arena in Canton against Walsh, including the final two on a game-winning jumper in the frantic closing seconds of a tight 82-81 win.
If the Oilers lose that game, there is no South Division and there is no GLIAC tournament at home. Heck, there might have not been an NCAA tournament bid for the Oilers if they lose that game to the Cavaliers.
The 39-point game against Malone in a 79-63 win wasn’t nearly as pressure-packed, but the Oilers still needed to win it. The 55-point game against Walsh in the GLIAC tournament was stunning because it helped the Oilers beat down the Cavs 104-74. That doesn’t happen often in the postseason, especially against a very good opponent.
Kahlig was rewarded for his stellar peformances and an all-around stellar senior season in which he averaged 24.5 points per game. He is the first Oiler since the 1993-94 campaign to average 20 or more points in a season.
Kahlig was named the GLIAC Player of the Year, earned Midwest All-Region honors and was tabbed a Daktronics second-team All-American. He also earned a spot on the National Association of Basketball Coaches NCAA Division II All-Star Game this Friday at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind.
Kahlig is deserving of every honor he has been given. He’s earned each one, although I do think Daktronics screwed up big time by not naming Kahlig a first-team All-American, especially when you consider some of the big moments in which Kahlig rose to the occasion for the Oilers.
Not only was Kahlig a big-time player, but he was also a big-time teammate. He wasn’t some selfish, give-me-the-ball on every possession type of player. He passed up a lot of opportunites because one of his teammates had a better look at the basket. And after every big game, Kahlig was always quick to credit his teammates for his success.
I’ve seen a lot of great players in my time covering UF, and Kahlig is no doubt one of the best. He ended his career with 1,877 points, the fourth-most in program history, and his sneakers will not be easy to fill next season.
It would have been great if Kahlig could have played in an Elite Eight in his career, but I’m glad he will get a chance to play in the all-star game on Friday night. He has earned that honor afer a season where he cemented his status as an Oiler legend.
Follow me on Twitter: @BLester1993