Joich Gong desires to triumph again, and he believes there is no greater place to do so than Mankato.
“We were very successful in high school,” he said. Now, we can also apply this to the college level.
Recently, the 6-foot-2 point guard from Mankato East announced that he would be transferring to Bethany Lutheran for his final two collegiate seasons.
“I really want to play in front of my family and friends again,” said Gong. “I want to play winning basketball once again.”
Gong had a successful tenure with the Cougars, which included a 76-14 record and one appearance in the state tournament over three seasons. As a senior, he averaged 14.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.0 steals while guiding the Cougars to a 27-2 overall record and a 22-0 Big Nine Conference mark.
His last game, a section championship loss to Marshall, marked the 1,000th point of his career, and he ranks fifth in program history with 273 assists.
Gong has spent the previous three seasons at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, missing the majority of the previous two seasons due to injury. Last season, he played alongside his younger sibling Puolrah.
Gong will be performing at Bethany Church in Mankato again.
“I saw a lot of good basketball at Kirkwood,” said Gong. “I believe I have greatly improved my game knowledge and physical strength.”
At Bethany, Gong will rejoin Jax Madson, with whom he shared the East backcourt for three seasons before Madson transferred to Concordia-St. Paul and Gong transferred to Kirkwood. Madson transferred to Bethany last year, contributing to the Vikings’ 23-5 record and NCAA tournament berth.
Dom Bangu, a former East player who spent one season at Riverland Community College and another at Grand View, is also transferring to Bethany. After learning that his former colleagues were interested in Bethany, Madson was pleased to be a salesman. Even Coach Pat Garvin sought out to Madson for assistance.
“We had a solid starting five last year, but we lacked depth,” said Madson, who averaged 14.1 points as the second-leading scorer for Bethany. We had an excellent year, but we didn’t end it as we had hoped.
“I was ecstatic when (Gong) announced he was coming to Bethany. I hoped in the back of my mind that we would play together again after we departed East, but I never believed it would happen. I’m beyond excited.”
Gong has already returned to Mankato and is eager to join the Bethany program, which has a large number of returning athletes.
“I like the way Garvin coaches, and he has led Bethany to many victories,” Gong said. “That is why I decided to travel to Bethany.”