The 2016-2017 basketball season was filled with determination, perseverance and hard work toward the ultimate goal of going to the national tournament. The men’s and women’s basketball teams achieved that goal, earning eighth and second place respectively.
Arielle Jackson, sophomore guard for the Cavaliers, said the highlight of the season was winning regionals and being able to say that the team was going to nationals.
“My team has been successful with our ability to stay together,” Jackson said. “As sophomores, it was up to us to keep the team going and keep every person motivated. We have made it this far because of the leadership.”
Kierra Isaiah, sophomore forward, noticed improvements in her skills after trusting in the game’s process. She believed listening to her coach helped with the success of her team this season.
“I have noticed a lot of improvements in my skills by trusting the process and knowing that the finished product comes after trusting and believing in the process,” Isaiah said. “Buying into what Conrad tells us everyday and knowing that we have a target on our back, [those two things] should make us want [to be successful] even more.”
Ben Conrad, women’s basketball coach, attributed the team earning the number two seed at the tournament to their use of consistency.
“Our kids did a nice job of being consistent over the long haul,” Conrad said. “In some ways the regular season title is the hardest thing to do. I think you have to really defend and be able to execute a plan each night.”
All of the games within the national tournament were intense, according to Conrad. The games became progressively more heated leading up to the championship.
“Obviously each game gets tougher, each opponent gets better as you progress,” Conrad said. “I think we ran out of gas after the semi final. It was a brutal, knock down, drag ‘em out game. We just weren’t able to get over that hump in that last game. Had some chances late in the third to cut it to one possession, [we] just didn’t get it done.”
The Lady Cavaliers ended the season at 33-3. This is the eighth consecutive season where the team ended a season with 30 or more wins. Conrad said rather than talking about their record or a championship, the team focuses on taking care of the ball and what they control each day.
“Our formula doesn’t change much,” Conrad said. “We recruit our tails off to find kids that can play and fit into the culture of our program. Once we get them here, we defend and rebound, try to really take care of the ball. Then we don’t talk about 30 wins or championships much, we just talk about what we control each and every day.”
The men’s team finished the season at 26-10 and earned eighth place at the national tournament which was five places higher than their seed.
Anthony Lupardus, freshman guard, said determination was key for his team in order to play they best they can.
“We were still able to finish eighth because, we chose as a team to not give up even though we aren’t playing for first anymore,” Lupardus said. “Coach [Jeffers] said these last games are about pride and character. I believe our team was able to show ours.”
Marquawn Wilson, freshman guard, described the tournament as a lesson and learning experience.
“Playing in that type of atmosphere was amazing,” Wilson said. “Even though we couldn’t get the job done and win it all, it was a learning experience for us all and we’ll be back next year.”
Wilson felt his close-knit team and trustworthy teammates helped them do so well at the national tournament.
“I felt like everyone coming together as one helped us do well at nationals…It actually made us come together as a whole more,” Wilson said. “Knowing that you can trust the man right next to you is always a great feeling.”
Stats for the men’s and women’s team can be found at jccc.edu/cavs.The results from the national tournament can be found at njcaa.org.