Arizona Alpha Zeta Wins Basketball Tourney in First Season
By Stephen Lee
Tempe, AZ – Arizona State University has the largest student population in the country (70,000), so you’d better believe their intramural sports are highly competitive.
This Spring was Phi Kappa Theta’s first season in the school’s IFC basketball league. The other twenty-seven teams didn’t expect much from these new kids on the block.
"We were the team wearing ragged jerseys provided by the gymnasium” explained power forward, George Heiler (ASU, '19). "Some people never heard of us, and nobody considered us a threat.”
That quickly changed as the Phi Kaps picked up win after win, eventually finishing the regular season undefeated.
After each victory, the brothers would yell the Fraternity’s chant. "We chanted so loud, the shocked look on people’s faces was worth a million bucks” said Heiler.
These ragtag underdogs then roared through the playoffs, earning a spot in the championship against powerhouse and defending champs, Kappa Sigma. The championship was held Monday, March 13, 2017 in Wells Fargo Arena, home to ASU’s NCAA basketball teams.
"The championship was very competitive yet fun,” explained Emily Vedder, graduate student and supporter of PKT. "Fans from both teams made signs and gave tons of support.”
The game got off to a raucous start, with Chris Cook scoring on a dunk. The Phi Kaps ran into early foul trouble and were forced to sub a few starters. They recovered, eventually taking a 29-15 lead into halftime after a buzzer-beating three pointer.
In the second half, Phi Kappa Theta’s lead was cut down to ten points with fifteen minutes left in the game. The brothers tightened their defense, forcing steals and grabbing rebounds. On offense, the team was draining three-pointers, including three bombs from Sam Englebert in the second half alone.
Brother Heiler reflected on the season. "It was a blast to come together as a group and accomplish something we have all wanted since last year. We really appreciate the fan support. They made it fun and rewarding!”
One of those supportive fans is Lindsay Heffron, one of two sweethearts of Phi Kappa Theta at ASU. She explained how the brotherhood goes deeper than sports. "These men have continuously shown they are here to make a difference and change the way fraternities are seen on our campus. Their love for God and college is contagious and has created an expectation of giving.”
According to chapter president Tristan Gaynor (ASU, '19), Phi Kappa Theta’s influence on campus is also being recognized by the IFC. Arizona Alpha Zeta was recognized as the IFC’s Chapter of the Month for January 2017, due to their recruitment efforts and genuine interaction with other fraternities.
And thanks to an upcoming blood drive and recent championship victory, the chapter has again been nominated for IFC’s Chapter of the Month (March 2017).
Special thanks to Arizona Alpha Zeta associate member, Jared Friedman, who recorded statistics and play by play of the championship game.