by Austin Lockwood
Special to the Ledger
Johnson County Community College’s basketball teams have both found the key to success this season with the men’s team sporting a 22–2 record as of Feb. 9 and the women’s team proudly holding a 24–0 record and the number one ranking in NJCAA Division II.
This success is nothing new to the Cavs, whose women’s team has a 90–6 record from the 2012–13 season to the end of the 2014–15 season. With this year’s current 24-game win streak, the Cavs hold a 113–6 record with a .950 win percentage over the last four seasons.
Ben Conrad, head coach of the women’s basketball team, credits the team’s success to “good players who have bought into a system that has worked for a long time.”
“Our formula hasn’t changed. We still put a premium on defending, rebounding both ends of the floor and attacking offensively,” said Conrad. “The common denominator is good players who buy into how we operate.”
The system is clearly working, considering the team has only lost four conference games in the last five seasons including the current one. Despite the recent success, Conrad is still looking for more.
“If we keep improving, the sky’s the limit for our team,” said Conrad.
The men’s team shares the same mindset and very similar results with their 22–2 record following a 91–47 victory over the Westminster College JV on Feb. 1.
Men’s head coach Mike Jeffers attributes the team’s success to being mentally prepared and motivated to play every day.
“It becomes more of being prepared mentally and physically, and there are 18-, 19- and 20-year-old young men. They could play basketball all day,” said Jeffers. “It’s about mental freshness more than anything else. They’re still wanting to come to the gym. They’re still excited about coming to practice.”
With seven games remaining in the regular season, the Cavaliers need that mental focus more than ever. The men’s team currently holds the number-nine spot in the NJCAA Division II rankings, but they will likely have to fight to retain it over the next couple of games after the recent 93-83 loss to Fort Scott.
The team has relied on sophomore guard Danzel Wright for its scoring this season. Wright is currently fifth in the nation in scoring with 466 points as of Feb. 2 and fourth in three-pointers with 81 baskets from beyond the arch. They’ll need him to continue with the high level of production with a schedule that only includes two teams with a record below .500 (Labette at 5–18 and Fort Scott at 9–13).
The next school to take on both teams is Kansas City Kansas Community College on Feb. 10. The women’s team stands at 21–2 and holds the number-eight ranking in NJCAA Division II for the week of Jan. 27, while the men’s team holds a 15–8 record. The games will run back to back with the women’s game starting at 6:30 p.m. and the men’s game following immediately afterward.