Women’s Basketball comes up short in District H Tournament semifinals
By James Paxson, Sports Editor
The Schoolcraft Women’s basketball team lost in heart breaking fashion, dashing their hope for a repeat run at a national tournament berth. The team lost in the final second against Macomb Community College, 59-58, on March 3 at University Center, MI. The semi-final loss knocked the Ocelots out of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) District H tournament.
The matchup was evenly paced throughout the game with both teams jostling for the lead. With just under a minute and a half remaining in the fourth quarter, sophomore guard T’era Nesbitt made a jump shot to close the scoring gap against Macomb, 57-54. Macomb followed with a missed a shot and Nesbitt got fouled. At the line Nesbitt sank both free throws making it a one-point game, 57-56, with 52 seconds remaining.
Schoolcraft took a brief time out with 20 seconds left in the game to regroup before putting on a full court press. With 12 seconds to go, Nesbitt struck again with a layup putting the Ocelots into the lead, 58-57. Both teams used time outs with six seconds remaining on the clock in regulation. When play resumed and the clock winded down to the last second, it was Macomb’s Courtney Aikens who made a valiant layup for two at the buzzer to seal the win for Macomb and end Schoolcraft’s season.
“My team played hard and even though we lost I am still proud of how hard we played as a whole this exciting season,” said freshman Jade Smith.
The entire team has worked hard throughout the season in order to reach the playoffs. Two sophomore players, T’era Nesbitt and Elise Tolbert averaged 14 points and over five rebounds each per game.
Sophomore forwards Rikki Sherdt, Elise Tolbert, Stefani Polowski and guards Ashley Bland, and T’era Nesbitt played their final game as an Ocelot.
All of these players have proved to be an important part of the team since they joined the squad. They have shown leadership, handled the ball well and played wall-like defense and offense that made the Ocelots difficult opponents to play against.
“I have never really seen a player like (Tolbert), she is able to play any position on the floor and do it with confidence,” said teammate Ashley Bland.
Schoolcraft has six projected veterans returning from the freshmen class who will have big shoes to fill. These freshmen include: guards Rainey McCune, Riana Williams, Riana Scott, Jamyra Wilson and Phoenix Douthat as well as forward Jade Smith.
Freshman forward Jade Smith led the freshman in points with 10 average and 4.3 rebounds per game. Being a young leader on and off the court she will be a big asset to the next year’s squad.
“Jade made a big impact this year, not many forwards are willing to run the floor and she made a huge difference,” said freshman Rainy McCune.
The Ocelots finished with a record of 13-3 in the Eastern Conference of the Michigan Community College Athletic Association (MCCAA) and were 26-5 overall, good for a share of the conference championship with Oakland CC. The team won 19 of their first 20 games. Despite the falling just a few games short of a National Tournament berth, the Ocelots have a strong foundation in place to make another run next season for a National Championship.