KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Carroll College men’s basketball team is used to hurdling over obstacles thrown in their way.

First they had to get used to a new coach.

Then a freshman took over the point guard duties after senior Alejandro Santos Piqueras tore his ACL.

Add some more injuries where key players such as Ife Kaklejaiiye and Matt Wyman missed time, and it’s been a long season.

But when Saints found out that their flight to the NAIA national tournament in Kansas City was cancelled they didn’t panic.

Carroll was traveling after receiving an at-large bid in its third straight tournament, but the grounding of all Boeing 737 MAX airliners effected their route.

“It never stops,” Carroll coach Kurt Paulson said. “We got notified around 1 p.m. that our flight was cancelled so we had to react accordingly. We somehow got 20 people down here in once piece.”

Last week President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would ground the aircraft after learning new information about the similarity of the two crashes on Oct. 29 and March 10 that killed 346 people.

The announcement forced the cancellation of less than 5 percent of all Southwest Airlines’ flights according to a statement the airline released on March 13.

Instead of heading to Kansas City all together, the team was forced to split up and meet in Los Angeles.

One group flew to San Jose while another group flew to Las Vegas before ending up in Los Angeles.

They arrived in Kansas City late Monday night, but Paulson said the delays didn’t put them behind preparing for their first round game against St. Thomas on Thursday morning.

“At the end of the day we are here and everyone is in good spirits. We are excited to play,” Paulson said.

As for the players, they looked at the positives that came out of it.

“We got Chick-fil-A out of the deal,” junior Dane Warp said, trying not to crack a smile.

Since the Saints first dealt with adversity, Paulson said none of his players have complained. They just deal with it as it comes.

“They are rallying and making the most of it,” Paulson said.

Wyman is in his fourth season and playing in his fourth national tournament.

Although it might be a season full adversity, it is something he will always look back to make his senior season memorable.

“We just take anything as it comes,” Wyman said. “It’s out of our control so you can’t be mad about something like that. We are just excited to be here. It’s a great environment.”

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Ryan Kuhn covers Carroll College athletics for the Independent Record and 406mtsports.com. Email him at ryan.kuhn@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @rskuhn

Carroll College sports reporter

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