On Tuesday, December 28, 1999 the Flying Dutchmen played their 500th game at the Holland Civic Center. Here is a list of some of the most memorable Civic Center games offered by coaches, players and fans.
Hope 65, Central, Iowa 56
There was no way the Dutchmen were going to lose the very first game in the Holland Civic Center because the athletic teams at both RCA sister colleges were known as the Dutchmen. Hope never trailed in the inaugural game. Bob Hendrickson led Hope with 19 points while Dwight Riemersma added 15 and Harold Molenaar 13.
Hope 66, Central State 61
The dunks of seven-footer Paul Benes (21 points) and the two-hand set shots of freshman Warren VanderHill (20 points) paced the Flying Dutchmen to a 66-61 victory over Central State of Wilberforce, Ohio in the championship game of a holiday tournament similar to the Russ DeVette Holiday Classic.
Hope 87, Wheaton 85
Called "the shot heard throughout the Midwest," Warren Vander Hill's 22-foot jumper as the final buzzer sounded gave the Flying Dutchmen the upset victory over a Crusader team ranked fourth in the nation at the time. With the score tied at 85-85, Hope got the ball with 13 seconds remaining. Coach Russ DeVette designed a play to get the ball to VanderHill. He took a pass with his back to the basket, turned and fired. The shot was true and swished the net. VanderHill scored 27 points while Ray Ritsema, who had part of a tooth knocked out in the opening minute of the game, added 20 points.
Hope 94, Valparaiso 93 (ot)
Don Boyink calmly sank two free throws with two seconds left in overtime to give the Flying Dutchmen a 94-93 victory. Jim VanderHill had blocked and then intercepted a Valpo shot with 18 seconds remaining in overtime. Boyink was attempting to shoot when he was fouled. Holland sports historian Randy VandeWater, who covered the game for the Holland Sentinel, remembers the closing seconds for another reason. In the heat of the overtime, coach Russ DeVette's young son appeared on the sidelines having apparently wandered from his seat. "Russ gave the team the strategy for the last play, scooped up his son, sat him on his lap and then watched the Dutchmen gain the victory."
Hope 127, Alma 119 (ot)
This game has been mentioned by more fans than any other. It still ranks as the highest scoring game in Hope and MIAA history. Even the Holland Sentinel article the day after the game said it was "destined to be called one of the greatest all-time victories." Alma came into the game heavily favored. The teams were tied 115-115 after regulation. In overtime Chris Buys scored six straight points in a minute-and-a-half to give Hope the cushion. With three minutes left in OT there was a melee involving players, coaches and some fans. It was quickly squelched, but resulted in ejections that left Alma with only four players on the floor. Glenn Van Wieren led Hope with 32 points while Ron Venhuizen had 31, Bill Potter 24 and Chris Buys 21.
Hope 104, Calvin 102 (2ots)
Freshman Don Kronemeyer, a hometown hero playing in his first Hope-Calvin game, calmly sank two free throws after the buzzer of a double overtime to beat the rival Knights and claim the MIAA championship. With the first free throw made, bedlam broke loose and Kronemeyer was carried from the floor on the shoulders of his teammates and fans. A few minutes later he returned to the floor and made the second shot. Kronemeyer was fouled after he had taken a rebound on a missed Calvin shot and was about to throw a long pass. The foul came as it looked like the game was going into a third overtime. Sophomore Carl Walters led Hope with 25 points, including a layup with nine seconds remaining to tie the score at 102- 102. Freshman Floyd Brady scored 24 points while Bill Potter hauled in 14 rebounds.
Hope 89, Olivet 82
Senior Floyd Brady's majestic baseline hook shot in the closing minutes of his final collegiate game marked his 2,000th point. Hope had already clinched the MIAA championship. Brady joined the elite ranks of such players as Cazzie Russell (University of Michigan) and Dave De Busschere (University of Detroit) with 2,000 or more career points.
Hope 65, Calvin 57
Memories of 23 consecutive losses to rival Calvin over an 11-year span were erased. It also celebrated the birthday of Hope president Gordon J. Van Wylen, a Calvin graduate. The next day's Holland Sentinel noted that "the Hope fans and players danced with glee." Even the nets were cut down. Coach Glenn Van Wieren credited his mentor Russ DeVette, who had endured most of the losing streak as Hope's coach, for the game-winning strategy through his scouting skills.
Hope 77, Wittenberg 60
The Flying Dutchmen were making their very first appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament against the winningest team in small college basketball. Hope trailed 37-30 early in the second half, but rallied behind 77% field goal shooting. In a tribute to the Civic Center atmosphere, the Wittenberg coach noted that his team "didn't handle the crowd that well." Matt Neil, who was voted the MIAA's most valuable player, scored 20 points.
Hope 84, Kalamazoo 43
The final score and statistics from this game aren't the story. Kalamazoo coach Ray Steffen was coaching his final game against Hope after 33 seasons at the helm of the Hornets. As a surprise, Hope's Russ DeVette presented Steffen with a pair of the traditional hand-carved wooden shoes. Civic Center fans gave the Kalamazoo coach a sustained standing ovation.
Hope versus Concordia, Mich.
This was the game that wasn't. Just three minutes into the second half with Hope leading season-opening foe Concordia 57-38, the game came to a sudden conclusion. Wade Gugino and Tom Halbert, both attempting a followup dunk off a missed layup, proved too much for the glass backboard, which shattered. The game couldn't be continued. Concordia wouldn't agree to return to Holland, citing scheduling difficulties. The game was declared "suspended" by the NCAA, meaning that for all practical purposes it wasn't played. Tell that to 2,150 fans who witnessed "THE PLAY."
Hope 71, Calvin 60
A victory over their arch rival in the championship game of the MIAA tournament gave the Flying Dutchmen a perfect 26-0 season. A few days later fans would be shocked to learn that the Civic Center court did not conform to collegiate standards and that future NCAA tournament games would have to be played elsewhere. The college's Dow Center was quickly converted into a spectator facility, but it obviously didn't give the Flying Dutchmen the same homecourt advantage as they lost their first game of the year, 72-69 to Baldwin-Wallace, Ohio.