Mens and Womens Basketball advance to national tournaments
BY NICK MISIAK
For the first time since 2001, the Schoolcraft Mens and Womens Basketball teams have advanced to their respective National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Tournaments in the same season.
The men, led by first year head coach Abe Mashhour and his assistants Seth Coffing, Corey McKendry and Michael Allie, rallied behind 26 points from freshman guard Ronald Booth and poor shooting from Delta Community College to win 79-55 in the NJCAA District 10 Final on Saturday, March 7. The victory sends them to the NJCAA Division II National Tournament in Dansville, IL from March 17 to March 21.
“It feels great to be able to have the opportunity to bring a national championship to Schoolcraft,” said Mashhour. “The athletic programs here are run at a high level and supported at every level. A championship banner will be a testament to the hard work and dedication of so many people.”
The women had a more challenging schedule to get through during their NJCAA Region XII District H tournament. Unlike the men, who had a first round bye, the women’s team had to defeat conference rivals, Delta, Macomb and top seeded St. Clair County Community College to advance to nationals.
The Ocelots were able to ride incredible performances from freshman guards T’era Nesbitt, Ashley Bland and Elise Tolbert to a 68-58 victory over St. Clair County Community College in the NJCAA District H Final. The win completed a three game tournament run that punched Schoolcraft’s ticket to the NJCAA Division II Womens National Championship held in Overland Park, KS, from March 17 to March 21.
“Since being named head coach and knowing the success the Womens Basketball program has had in the past, it has been a goal of mine to get the program back on top and competing at the national level,” said head coach Kara Kinzer. “Every player on the team and recruits that come on a visit know this is the goal for the program. I show them the history of the program and where it has been and where I want it to be, so we all share the same vision. Being in my second season as head coach to get to the national tournament is great but I know we have a lot more work to do to be successful at that level.”
With Schoolcraft being the only junior college in the country to have both its Mens and Womens Basketball teams qualify for their respective national tournaments, both Kinzer and Mashhour were named the Coach of the Year in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA) for their sport.
MENS REGIONAL JOURNEY
Ranked first in the country, the men captured the MCCAA crown in late February and rode a 16-game win streak into the NJCAA Region 10 Tournament, which was held in University Center, MI.
After receiving a first round bye, the Ocelots defeated Macomb Community College 83-70 on March 6 in the Region 10 Semi-final behind 21 points from freshman guard Ja’Christian Biles and 17 points from Booth.
Schoolcraft then defeated Delta College to clinch their first NJCAA Division II National Tournament berth since 2003.
Sophomore forward Javan Thomas was named to the All-Tournament Team, and Booth was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
WOMENS PLAYOFF RUN
Kizner, assisted by Katy Pierson and Teniece Roberts, led her team into the District H tournament as the number three seed.
The Ocelots began the tournament on March 3, by defeating Delta College in a 77-71 thriller. Freshman guards Bland (30 points), Nesbitt (17 points) and Tolbert (17 points) all had outstanding games for Schoolcraft, who came back from a ten point halftime deficit to pull out the victory.
Next, they faced Macomb Community College and again rode the hot hands of Bland (19 points), Nesbitt (18 points) and Tolbert (11 points) to a 56-47 victory.
The Ocelots then completed their tournament journey by defeating St. Clair and earning the school’s fourth trip to the National Tournament and first since 2010.
Nesbitt was named to the All-Tournament team, and Bland was named the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament.
WHO WILL THEY PLAY?
Both the men’s and women’s NJCAA National Tournament features the winners of the 16 district tournaments across the country.
Schoolcraft enters the men’s tournament as the number one seed, and has drawn Genesee (NY) Community College in the first round of the tournament. Genesee (23-8) only had a 7-5 conference record, but they run a high-powered offense behind 23 points per game and 7 rebounds per game from sophomore forward Ervin Mitchell and 19.4 points per game from sophomore guard Naquil Jones. Tipoff is on Tuesday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m.
If the Ocelots advance, they would face the winner of eight seed Olive-Harvey (IL) Community college and unseeded John Wood (IL) Community College on Thursday, March 19 at 7:30 p.m. EST.
On the women’s side, Schoolcraft comes into the tournament as the eleventh seeded team and will face sixth seeded Guliford Tech (NC) Community College (27-3) in the first round of the tournament on Tuesday, March 17 at 2:00 p.m. The winner will face the winner of number three seed Johnson County (KS) Community College (30-2) and fourteenth seeded Southeast (NE) Community College.
To see the tournament schedules and follow the Ocelot men and women through the NJCAA National Tournament, visit www.dacc. edu/njcaa for the mens team and www.jccc.edu/cavs/njcaatournament/index.html for the womens team.
For live streaming of the womens tournament, please visit http://www.ihigh.com/ jccc/ and click on the link of the desired game to watch.