After defeating Columbus State in the Division III, District 12 Regional Championship, the Lorain County Community College men’s basketball team traveled to Elgin, Illinois, on Saturday, March 4 to take on the fourth-ranked Spartans for the chance to advance to the elite eight in the country.
In a tough battle, LCCC fell to the Spartans 86-68 and saw their season come to an end.
That loss, however, did not in any way diminish all that the team accomplished.
“We fulfilled our expectations to win the Regional championship,” Coach Marty Eggleston said. “That was the tangible goal we set for ourselves at the beginning season.”
Make no mistake, Eggleston and his team felt they could go further in the tournament. Sometimes during a long season though, circumstances go against even a hard working group like the Commodores.
“We had two of our top players – T.J. Steele and Justin Green – sidelined with ankle injuries,” Eggleston said.
And then something else happened that is so hard to guard against in basketball – his team’s shooting went cold, hitting only 29 percent from the field against Elgin. For a team that was in the top ten in scoring in Division III all season with an average of 91 points per game, that was too much to overcome.
“We had a good chance of winning against Elgin,” Eggleston said. “But we shot the lowest percentage of the season against them and that just wasn’t going to cut it.”
The loss of Steele and Green and the cold-handed shooting was “just a case of bad timing” that happens to all teams, Eggleston added.
“Both Coach Keshock and I are very proud of this team’s effort and work ethic all season,” he said. “It was a great season – and what people have to remember is we’re a DIII team playing in a DII conference against teams with scholarship athletes – and we were successful.”
The Commodores finished with a 17-12 record and captured LCCC’s first Regional Championship in men’s basketball.
“It is not easy to manage life, school, work and family all at once; in addition to the tremendous amount of time and physical effort required to perform at a high level,” Eggleston said. “Playing college sports at any level is a grind and community college players have all of these things to balance.”
Eggleston hopes this season will set the stage for more success next year and beyond. With seven players returning he thinks they have a good shot at repeating as Regional Champs and then taking the next step in the tournament.
“We’re building a program where we want students to say, ‘I want to go to LCCC for school and basketball’,” Eggleston said. “We want them to be successful in the classroom and on the court.”
The 2016-2017 LCCC Commodores are: Justin Green, Christian Santiago, Mike Rell, Jake Schultz, TJ Steele, Kevin Kelley, Chris Theodus, Kyle Fayne, Jarred Schultz and Deric Nichols.