Richland College Basketball Team Wins NJCAA National Championship
The Richland College men’s basketball team clinched the 2015 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III men’s basketball title after defeating the defending national champion team Rock Valley College (Illinois) in Loch Sheldrake, N.Y.
Despite facing a double-digit deficit in the second half, Richland College pulled ahead for a 67-64 win against Rock Valley, earning the Thunderducks their third national title in the program’s history.
“Winning the national championship in your sport is always the desire of everyone that plays or coaches,” said Jon Havens, Richland College head basketball coach. “It gives you a great sense of validation when you are trying to prove yourself. This group of guys can say for the rest of their lives that they were national champions! It’s just a special feeling to have watched this team come together and win what we all worked so hard to win.”
Sophomore Kierre Moore scored a game-high 20 points for Richland, and three other Thunderduck starters posted double-figures in scoring: Brandon Woods with 15 points, Trey Hall with 11 points and Ishmael Donzo with 12 points.
Moore was named tournament MVP by averaging 12.3 points and 7.6 rebounds in three championship games. Hall was also recognized with all-tournament honors, averaging 14.3 points and five rebounds during the tournament.
This was Haven’s first year as head coach at Richland College, having previously been an assistant coach at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.
“This year was an incredible journey for everyone involved,” said Havens. “I was a new coach to the players, and they were new to me. They embraced me, along with my philosophy of basketball, from day one. After losing our first two games, I told the guys that we had 23 more games left to try and achieve what we wanted to achieve. To then go on two long winning streaks and still have the guys come into practice wanting to learn and get better might be the most special thing for me. They embraced the process of what it takes to be champions.”
Richland College’s previous national basketball titles were in 1999 and 2009. The Thunderducks finished the 2014-15 season with a final record of 27-3.
The Richland College basketball team roster is as follows: Brandon Woods (sophomore), Ryan Daniels (sophomore), Trey Hall (sophomore), Ishmael Donzo (sophomore), Trevon Jeffery (sophomore), Josh Francis (freshman), Terrance Cooper (freshman), Kierre Moore (sophomore), Brad Umoru (freshman), Marques Smith (freshman), Robel Yoseph (freshman), Adarian Harris (freshman) and Jacques Stephenson (freshman). Head coach Jon Havens leads the team, along with assistant coaches Michael Gross, Brian Graham and Phil Key.