Ocelot pride

Basketball teams finish sixth and seventh at national tournament

BY NICK MISIAK
SPORTS EDITOR

The Schoolcraft Mens Basketball Team went 2-2 and finished sixth out of 16 teams in the Division II National Tournament held in Danville, IL, and the Schoolcraft Womens Basketball Team finished 3-1, placing them seventh out of 16 teams in the Division II Womens National Tournament held in Overland Park, KS.

The men’s team, coached by Abe Mashhour, entered the tournament riding an 18-game winning streak and was the top overall seed out of 16 qualifiers. After a 79-69 first round win over Genesee (NY) Community College, the Ocelots faltered against John Wood (IL) Community College and lost 89-66, which officially eliminated them from national championship contention.

Schoolcraft defeated Kishwaukee (IL) College 81-74 to advance to the fifth place game, but the Ocelots could not overcome familiar foe Lakeland Community College in their final game, losing 85-79 to the Lakers.

“This has been a very special year and our young men have overcome a great deal in order to put themselves in this wonderful position,” said Mashhour. “Despite not winning the tournament, we still had one of the best overall records in the country and our hard work and dedication throughout the season was rewarded with a state and regional championship.”

The women’s team surprised many by winning the District H Championship, advancing to the national tournament as the eleventh seeded team. Unfortunately, the Ocelots were eliminated from national championship contention in their first game, losing 75-64 to sixth seeded Gulliford Tech (NC) Community College.

Despite the setback, head coach Kara Kizner rallied her team to end their tournament on a three game win streak, which gave them a seventh place finish overall in the tournament. Schoolcraft defeated Southeast (NE) Community College 73-67 and Union County (NJ) 61-57 to earn a spot in the seventh place game, in which they defeated Phoenix (AZ) Community College 69-56 to end their tournament with a record of 3-1.

“Even though we did not reach our main goal of winning the tournament, we were able to string together a good winning streak to finish our season, which felt great,” said freshman guard Elise Tolbert. “This was a fun experience and I hope we make it back here next season.”

The end of the tournament marked the end of sophomores Javan Thomas and Nathan Kamal’s playing careers at Schoolcraft for the men’s team, while sophomores Sara Gammons, Jessica Parry and Chelsey Wesley wrapped up their playing careers for the women.

Both teams head into the off-season with a majority of their rosters eligible to return next season, and hope to continue their search for a national title next season with some experience under their belts.

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