Ocelots qualify for NJCAA tournament for second straight year
BY NICK MISIAK
With wins over Henry Ford Community College and Alpena Community College in the past few weeks, the Schoolcraft Womens Basketball team has qualified for the NJCAA District Eight Tournament for the second time in two seasons under head coach Kara Kinzer.
The last few games of the season will determine the Ocelot’s first round opponent in the playoffs, and their 63-57 victory over fellow tournament qualifier Mott on Wednesday, Feb. 18, moved them into fourth place, with only two games remaining in regular season play.
Schoolcraft improved to 19-8 (10-4 conference), while the Bears dropped to 10-13 (7-6 conference) on the season.
Only one Ocelot, freshman guard Elise Tolbert, scored in double figures. Tolbert led the Ocelots with 13 points, freshman guard Ashley Bland scored nine points and freshman guard T’era Nesbitt, freshman forward Rikki Sherdt and sophomore guard Jessica Parry all scored eight points.
Mott sophomore guard Day’na Holmes scored a game high 15 points, and freshman center Allie Brookman scored 10 points in 22 minutes off the bench.
Schoolcraft got off to a slow start, trailing by six before making their first bucket, but regrouped. A layup from Parry with 11:14 remaining in the half tied the score at 14-14, and another two-pointer by Parry, just under two minutes later, gave the Ocelots the lead for good.
Schoolcraft was able to ride their offensive successes to a 34-24 lead at the half and extended their lead to 40-26 3:22 into the second half when freshman forward Breiana Allen scored two of her six points with a layup.
Mott had a nine-point run, concluded by sophomore guard Akeyilla Moore’s 20-foot jumper with 5:35 left to play, to come to within two of the Ocelots at 52-50, but Schoolcraft answered the bell and made clutch shots to seal the win, despite a late surge by Mott.
VALENTINE’S DAY BLOWOUT
Schoolcraft showed no love on Valentine’s Day, coming just a layup short of doubling up Henry Ford Community College in a 78-40 mauling of the Hawks.
Freshman guard Ashley Bland recorded a double-double, netting a game high 27 points and 10 rebounds.
Two other Ocelots came close to scoring a double-double as well. Freshman forward T’era Nesbitt came just one rebound shy, with 12 points and nine rebounds, while freshman guard Elise Tolbert dropped 15 points and eight rebounds. Freshman forward Breiana Allen scored 10 points in 12 minutes off of the bench, and freshman forward Rikki Sherdt continued her monster season on the glass by collecting 12 rebounds.
“This was a tremendous effort by everyone, from the starters to the bench,” said Kizner. “We were hitting our shots and made several good decisions with the ball. There were still a few things we definitely need to improve on, but we’ll enjoy this win first and work on it in practice as we prepare for the postseason.”
The Hawks struggled from the floor, shooting only 21.4 percent. Freshman forward Taylor Works scored over half of Henry Ford’s points with 21, and freshman guard Sydney Holmes scored 10 points, despite shooing 3-19.
OCELOTS SNUBBED BY RAIDERS
Schoolcraft pulled to within one point of Oakland Community College with just under two minutes to play in the game, but failed to score before time ran off the clock, falling 73-72 to the Raiders on Wednesday, Feb.11.
Freshman guard Starnisha Harris had 38 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Raiders, while freshman guard Brijanae Durrough scored 21 points to go along with eight rebounds.
Freshman guard Elise Tolbert was the top scorer for Schoolcraft, scoring 24 points to accompany five rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks. Freshman forward T’era Nesbitt scored 18 points as well.
The Ocelots close out the regular season the week of Feb. 23, with two games; one at home on Monday, Feb. 23 against Delta Community College at 5:30 p.m., and the other is on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at St. Clair County Community College.