Men’s basketball team faces nationally-ranked rivals at regionals
By Stan Brouillard
Campus Eye staff
Basketball fans from around the state will converge on Anoka-Ramsey Community College this weekend as both ARCC’s men’s and women’s teams vie to win the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region 13 conference.
The women’s team is currently ranked third in the nation, after winning 20 games in a row. They have an overall record of 22-3 and are 12-0 in their conference. They play Fox Valley at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
The men’s team fought for and secured the fourth and final playoff position in the Region 13 tournament. Their regular season finished with a 85-56 win over Fox Valley Technical College. Their first conference matchup is against Vermilion at 5 p.m. Friday.
The Golden Rams men ended their regular season with a 20-8 overall record,14-3 at home and 6-5 on the road; they also had a 8-6 record against teams in their conference. This is the team’s third year with a winning record in the last four years. Before that their last 20-game winning season was in 2000.
In January, the team slipped out of the Top 10 rankings as they posted three wins and five losses.
“It doesn’t affect the whole team a lot (being knocked off the top ten); It all really depends on how the team plays and where the other opposing team is ranked in the standings,” said assistant coach Rory Larson.
“We only played five games total in January and February where our entire team was present and healthy. To still reach 20 wins under those circumstances is a credit to our players and our perseverance and hard work,” Larson said.
Conference heavyweights include perennial rival Rochester Community and Technical College, which is currently No. 2 in the NCJAA Division 3 rankings, and Vermilion, ranked third nationally headed into the tournament.
Throughout the course of the season there were four big players that made and impact on the team. Joey Weldon had an average of 18.8 points per game, Trent Pollard had 18.0 points per game, Lemuel Doe had 16.6 points per game, and Joe Lyons had 12.5 points per game.
Doe, Pollard and Weldon were named to the 2013-2014 Minnesota College Athletic Conference (MCAC) All-Southern Division and All-MCAC teams. The team is made up of the top 14 players in the division as voted on by coaches.
Doe was also named MCAC Player of the Week for Feb. 11 after scoring 33 points in a victory over Fergus Falls and 17 points in a loss to St. Cloud Tech.
“Everyone plays a role in the game that can step up when circumstances arise. Those guys are important but it is an overall team effort. We rely on all of our guys, all of them are friends that push each other to do better,” Larson said.
Despite the fact that the Rams are no longer in the top ten ranking in the state they still have the drive and focus that propelled them all the way to the regional tournament.
“Hopefully those attributes will carry over to the tournament, and we know it will benefit our players throughout their lives,” Larson said.
Both tournaments will run from Friday, Feb. 28-Sunday, March 2, at Anoka-Ramsey’s Coon Rapids campus.