Monthly Archives: March 2009

National Championship slowly sinking in for coach Jon Felmet, Richland College basketball team

“We made it this far why not finish it out” was a constant saying for the Richland College basketball players throughout their unforgettable journey toward winning the 2009 NJCAA Division III National Championship on March 14 in New York.

For coach Jon Felmet, the thought of winning Richland College’s second national basketball championship still hasn’t set in.

“It is slowly but not completely,” Felmet, who was named the Gary Cole Coach of the Tournament, said. “The trip made many memories for me and the team that will last forever. I’m so happy for the assistant coaches, our student assistant and players for all of the work they have put in all year. And with these last three games, it was all worth it.”


Entering the National Championship tournament with the momentum of winning the Metro Athletic Conference title, despite not being ranked among the top 10 NJCAA Division III teams, Felmet said that if his team picked up where it left off in conference play, it should be in a very good spot to win the national championship.

And the way the T-Ducks (14-19) opened the National Championship tournament, with a convincing 67-47 victory over No. 7-ranked Mass Bay Community College, the road to the championship looked easy.

However, it was the complete opposite. Richland College, which finished the season on an eight-game winning streak and having won 14 of its final 15 games, needed to win to two nail- biters to bring home the coveted title.

In the semifinal round against No. 2-ranked Hudson Valley Community College, the T-Ducks relied on the heroics of Deionta Mitchell, who scored the winning basket with only six seconds left in the contest, to lift his team to a narrow 59-57 win.

If that wasn’t close enough, the T-Ducks’ Antwan Mullins had to make a clutch basket and free throw in the final seconds to secure the 58-57 victory over No. 1-ranked Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

“When we were playing [higher division colleges such as] Collin College, McLennan, Hill College, San Jacinto College, Grayson College, Angelina College, Lamar State and Connors State we were preparing,” Felmet said about the toughness of his pre-conference schedule. “We lost so many close games against teams many thought we shouldn’t have been on the floor with. Going through all of those tough, hard fought games prepared us for conference play, and for the national tournament. We were prepared, and knew the guys would pull the game out because they stuck together this far, why not.”


It also helped that the T-Ducks had a very balanced, deep team.

Throughout the tournament, Richland College played 12 to 13 guys a game while the T-Ducks’ opponents played only eight to nine, Felmet said.

Richland College also finished the tournament with seven players averaging at least five points. Among those players was Chibuzo Elonu, whose high-energy style of play led him to being named Tournament MVP after contributing 8.6 points and seven rebounds per game.

Giorden Cole, who averaged 6.8 points and seven rebounds per game during the tournament, also was named to the All-Tournament Team.

Meanwhile, pre-season all-Americans Tony Bishop and Mullins had solid contributions. Bishop averaged 8.6 points, six rebounds and two blocks while Mullins totaled 6.3 points, four assists, 3.3 rebounds and two steals.

“We were very talented. We had good guards, and good posts. The biggest thing is how close they were,” Felmet said. “We were talented but we were close. I think that helped us win the national championship because each guy wanted to win it for his teammate.”


Over the years, Richland College has had its share of successful teams. There was the 1999 national championship team, the 11 straight conference championship squads in the 70s and 80s, the 2002 the 2005 teams that finished third and 2003 group that finished fifth at the national championship tournament.

But when Felment thinks about this year’s championship team ranking among the Richland College greats, he said, “This team is definitely in that mix. There could be many arguments about which ones were better but I know this team will always be special to me.”

And when asked if he could sum up this team and season, he added, “Four words … one family, one goal.”

Joe Wharton collects career win No. 450; Baseball team 23-7 overall

Through 30 games, coach Joe Wharton’s Richland College baseball team has compiled an impressive 23-7 overall record and 16-2 mark in conference play.

Included in these victories was Wharton’s 450th career win. Overall, Wharton has a 450-234 record (.658 winning percentage).

The T-Ducks, which have won six of their last seven games, including its recent three-game sweep over Metro Athletic Conference opponent Brookhaven College, have been led by shortstop Cody Stigall and pitcher Kirk Pritchett.

Stigall currently is hitting a team-high .455 average while Pritchett has a 7-1 record, 2.61 ERA and 57 strikeouts.

T-Duck coach Jon Felmet, Chibuzo Elonu, Giorden Cole earn NJCAA Division III National Championship Tournament awards

Anytime the Richland College basketball team has needed an instant spark this season, Chibuzo Elonu’s number has been called.

He couldn’t have picked a better time to play arguably his best basketball of the season during the T-Ducks’ 2009 championship run at the NJCAA Division III National Championship Tournament.

While Elonu averaged just 8.6 points per game during Richland’s three games at the tournament, his high-energy style of play also contributed to seven rebounds per game.

For his efforts Elonu, who also recorded two blocks, was named MVP of the 2009 National Championship tournament.

Joining Elonu with Richland College post-tournament accolades were Giorden Cole, who was named to the all-Tournament Team after averaging 6.8 points and seven rebounds, and Jon Felmet, who was named the Gary Cole Coach of the Tournament after leading the T-Ducks to a 59-57 victory over Minneapolis Community and Tech College in the championship game.

This is the second national championship for Richland College, which also won the title in 1999.


Entering this season, the goal for Jon Felment and his Richland College basketball team was to make it to New York, where it will be able to play for a NJCAA Division III National Championship.

Not only did the T-Ducks make it to New York but they can now call themselves the 2009 National Champions after they beat Minneapolis Community and Technical College, 59-57, in the championship game on Saturday, March 14.

This is the second national championship in basketball for Richland College, which also won the coveted title in 1999.

Deionta Mitchell's clutch shot with seconds left to play lifts Richland College to NJCAA D3 National Championship game

Deionta Mitchell picked a perfect time to score his 10th point of the game on Friday for Richland College, which was playing Hudson Valley Community College in the NJCAA Division III National Championship basketball tournament.

With the game, which featured 23 lead changes, tied 57-57 after Hudson Valley made two clutch free throws with only 26 seconds left to play, Mitchell scored the game-winning bucket with six seconds left in the game to lift the T-Ducks to a thrilling 59-57 victory and berth to the championship game.

Richland College will play at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 14 for the national championship.

The T-Ducks entered the second half with a slim 27-24 lead but Hudson Valley Community College outscored Richland College 15-9 to start the half to take a 39-36 lead before extending its lead to five – the largest lead for either team – with around 12 minutes left to play.

However, Richland responded with a run of its own, outscoring Hudson Valley to 6-0 to take a slim 42-41 advantage.

Over the next five minutes, Hudson Valley controlled the game, outscoring the T-Ducks 7-3 to take a 48-45 advantage before Mitchell hit his second 3-pointer of the game to tie the score at 48 apiece.

Both teams traded buckets until Richland College’s pre-season all-American Tony Bishop hit a 3-pointer to give Richland College a 57-55 cushion with 2:57 left in the game.

More than two minutes passed in which either team scored until Hudson Valley made two free throws with 26 seconds left in the game, setting up Mitchell’s heroics.

CJ Thompson led the T-Ducks in scoring with 13 points while Bishop finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.

Rebounding, balanced scoring attack lead T-Duck basketball team to win to open NJCAA D3 National Championship Tournament

Making its first trip to the NJCAA Division III National Championship tournament since 2005, Richland College’s basketball team used a strong second half and a balanced scoring attack led by Tony Bishop to convincingly win its opening game against Mass Bay Community College, 67-47.

The T-Ducks advance to the next round and inch one step closer to a national title when they play Hudson Valley Community College at 8 p.m. (Eastern time) on Friday, March 13. Hudson Valley Community College entered the tournament ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA Division III.

After holding a 37-34 halftime lead, Richland College, using six different scorers, scored the first 10 points of the second half to take a momentum-changing 47-34 lead with just under 12 minutes left in the game.

Richland College’s defense then took over the game as the T-Ducks didn’t allow its lead to dip under 10 points for the rest of the game.

Like they have done all season, the T-Ducks were aggressive on the boards, out-rebounding its opponent by a 54-35 margin.

Meanwhile, Bishop scored 10 points, along with grabbing seven rebounds, to lead seven Richland College players who scored at least five points. Chibuzo Elonu also had a solid game, scoring nine points and tying for the team lead with eight rebounds, along with Antwan Mullins, who scored seven points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out seven assists.

As a team, the T-Ducks, who have won six games in a row and 12 of their last 13, also shot 45.8 percent from the field.

Baseball squad drops two; host North Lake College over weekend

After storming out to a 16-4 record to start the season, the Richland College baseball team has hit a slight speed bump, losing its last two games.

The losses moved the T-Ducks to 13-2 in conference play. Richland looks to get back on track this weekend when the t-Ducks host North Lake College for a three-game set. Game 1 will be played at 2 p.m. Friday, with a double header scheduled to begin at noon on Saturday.


One of the main goals for Jon Felment when he was hired as the Richland College basketball coach was to bring a buzz back to the campus about the T-Duck basketball program. After just two seasons, Felmet’s mission has been accomplished.

His T-Ducks have been the talk of the campus, lately, as they prepare to leave for New York, where they will be one of eight teams playing for the NJCAA Division III National Championship Tournament beginning March 12.

“It definitely has taken a while to set in. This last week has been stressful due to travel arrangements and things but as we get closer to [our] departure it’s getting more exciting,” Felmet said. “[When] I think about our conference championship and a chance to play for the national championship in just my second year as a head coach, those are all things some coaches may never get a chance to be a part of. I’m extremely excited for the guys. They too, are in their second year and are already champions.”

The T-Ducks beat Eastfield College, 92-72, in the Metro Athletic Conference Tournament Championship game on Feb. 27 to advance to the NJCAA Division III National Championship Tournament.

Richland College will open the tournament on Thursday, March 12 against Mass Bay Community College, which is ranked No. 7 in the nation.

“They play a fast-paced style, hard-nosed man-to-man defense and they shoot a lot of 3-pointers,” Felmet said. “They are well coached and play with passion. It will be a tough game, if we do not come ready to play.”

According to Felmet, Mass Bay Community College also has a 6-5 all-American and 1,000-point scorer, who will be tough to guard because he can shoot the 3 and post up.

Countering his play will be T-Duck pre-season all-Americans Tony Bishop and Antwan Mullins. Bishop averages 14.3 points point per game while Mullins scores 13.3.

The T-Ducks, who will enter the tournament winners of their last five and 11 of 12, have four other players averaging at least six points per game.

“There are eight teams in the tournament but only one will win all three games and be crowned 2009 Division III National Champions,” Felmet said. “We can’t be that team if we do not take care of Game 1. To do that, we will have to play our style. If we pick up where we left off to finish conference, we should be in a very good spot to bring it [the championship] home.”

T-Ducks headed to NJCAA National Championship basketball tournament

For the first time since 2005, the Richland College basketball team is heading to the NJCAA Division III National Championship tournament thanks to a 92-72 victory over Eastfield College in Friday’s Metro Athletic Conference tournament title.

The eight-team tournament, which the T-Ducks won in 1999, will be held from March 12-14 in Delhi, New York.

“Truly, I’m more happy for the guys than I am for us [coaches],” Richland College coach Jon Felmet said moments after being showered with a bucket of Gatorade. “The guys have put in so much work this season. For us to go out with a 20 point win, it says what our team is about.”

In Friday’s win, the T-Ducks used a 13-0 run early in the game to take control, ultimately building a 19-point halftime cushion that Eastfield was able to erase to eight within the first four minutes of the second half.

However, like Richland College has done all season, it responded with timely buckets to close any thought of Eastfield making a comeback.

The win was the fifth in a row for the T-Ducks, who will enter the national championship tournament having won 11 of its last 12 games.

“I’ve never been to the [national tournament]. When I played here, we missed it,” Felmet said. “I honestly don’t know what to expect from New York but I’m excited.”