Basketball

Men’s basketball ends playoff run with division title loss

By Connor Iapoce & Brett Friedensohn
Sports Editor, Editor-in-Chief

The men’s basketball Titans at County College of Morris fell short of glory after winning the Garden State Athletic Conference championship and reaching the championship game of the Region XIX DII tournament, where their season ended in a heartbreaking 74-76 loss against Ulster County Community College.

The Titans concluded the 2017-2018 season with an overall record of 21-9 and a conference championship under their belt.

CCM athletic director Jack Sullivan disagreed with labeling the game as a Region XIX championship loss due to technicalities about the designation of the game.

“Technically, it was a district championship, not the region title,” Sullivan said. “Ulster is from outside the region. It was a district game to see who goes to the national tournament. Technically, we were on top of the Region XIX, so we won the Region XIX, but it didn’t give us an automatic bid. I guess we’re the regular season Region XIX champions and Garden State Athletic Conference Champions, 21-9.”

Meanwhile, the Titans are still dealing with the shortened end of a successful season, with the second half of the season consisting of 13 wins and three losses. The Titans entered the Region XIX championship on a five-game win streak.

“I think that we all bought in,” said D’Ondre Dent, a freshman guard. “We came together, there was a lot of leadership skills by [sophomores] Ishmil Raymond and Ranell Bell. We bought into what the coach has been teaching us, and I know we came together, and everything became easy. Once you do everything you’re supposed to do, it became easy. That’s why you saw that win streak.”

The loss from an out of region team was especially disappointing for Dent, who said he saw it as a stolen win in a game that should been theirs to win.

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Titans forward Ish Raymond puts up a layup in a 99-55 win against Prestige Prep.

“The team we lost to, they weren’t in our region,” Dent said. “They came in and took our trophy. Now, they’re probably dancing in Danville right now. I’ll never forget that feeling. I didn’t play the game, I got hurt the game before so watching them, that was my first time. Watching them and to lose by two, that hurt so I’m definitely using that as motivation for next year.”

The championship game against Ulster came down to the wire for the Titans, with a two-point difference deciding the winner. The Titans were leading Ulster 35-31 entering halftime, but the team was ultimately outscored 45 to 39 in the second half, with the final score of 74-76.

“It hurt,” Dent said. “The team was good, but we definitely shot ourselves in the foot. Hopefully, we’ll work hard. We’re in the gym, and we’ll work hard. We are already in the gym and took a week off for spring break, so we’re focused on next year. Get to that same position, but have a different outcome.”

Before this playoff run, the Titans had not reached the Region XIX playoffs since the 2012-2013 season.

“We were the second seed going into it which is huge because it hasn’t happened in years, forget about us even going in,” said freshman red shirt Andrew Sosna. “So, we made it very far in that regard. We played our hearts out; I know the guys were frustrated with the loss. I think that we got in our own heads, and I think that’s why we couldn’t deliver. When this team plays at optimum capacity, we are unstoppable.”

The two championships were the first at CCM for head coach Anthony Obery, who is in his fourth season as a CCM coach and third season as the head coach.


“They came in and took our trophy. Now, they’re probably dancing in Danville right now. I’ll never forget that feeling.”

D’Ondre Dent
Titans guard


Sosna said he has been waiting all season for a chance to join the team and is hoping next season can capitalize on this year’s success.

    “I think a lot of our sophomores are leaving this year, which is upsetting, but good for them,” said Sosna. “I know they’re going on to bigger, better things. I think we have a team that’s ready to work, we have a good program, and we have coaches that are ready to kick us into high gear. I’m excited. I’m super excited. I’ve been waiting all year for this, honestly. I think we can deliver again.”

Sullivan is also confident the team will be able to find success again next season.

“I like the freshman we have coming back,” Sullivan said. “I thought they were outstanding. I think that they can go from there. I think there’s a lot to be excited about.”

Men’s basketball clinches playoff berth

Titans end five season postseason drought with 76-71 win

By Brett Friedensohn
Editor-in-Chief

The men’s basketball team at County College of Morris advanced to the regional championship tournament for the first time since 2013 with a 76-71 win against Raritan Valley Community College Tuesday, Jan. 30.

After the regular season ends Thursday, March 1, the Titans will compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association Region XIX Division II championship tournament consisting of local community college teams; all eligible colleges are in New Jersey, Delaware, and eastern Pennsylvania.

A 75-73 loss to Lackawanna College Saturday, Feb. 10 gave CCM a record of 9-4 in region play and 16-8 overall where it remained at presstime when it was third in the division. The Titans closed last season with a record of 1-13 in the region and 5-20 overall.

Head coach Anthony Obery, in his fourth season, is set to lead a team into the playoffs for the first time in his CCM tenure.

“It feels good,” Obery said. “Our biggest strength right now is our mental toughness. I would say that my guys, no matter what situation that we’re in, our guys stay mentally tough throughout the game. That’s one of our biggest strengths, so if you’re down by a couple of points, you still bounce back, and you still come back and win the game.”

Sophomore center Ish Raymond poses his team’s highest three-point shooting percentage at 52.9 and its second highest points per game at 12.9, behind sophomore guard Lamont Williams at 14.5.

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Titans center Ish Raymond jumps over an opposing player for a layup against Cumberland County College. Photos By: Brett Friedensohn

“I’ve experienced it on both sides of the spectrum coming from where the team was last year,” said Raymond, a liberal arts major. “It’s amazing to be a part of this journey. I really appreciate the opportunity.”

Raymond said that he and his teammates are confident in their ability to win the region title.

“We’re just getting better with ourselves as a unit,” Raymond said. “That’s really a big focus amongst the team. That helps the mentality going against other teams. We know how to approach games. Yeah, there’s slip ups here and there; we do have flaws plenty, but for the most part, like I said, we really have a good intention to work on ourselves.”

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Freshman guard Abraham Kromah flies through the air in a 86- 78 home win against Cumberland County College

Obery said that to find success in the postseason, his team needs to stay consistent, especially on defense.

“We’ve got to stay hungry,” Obery said. “I tell these guys, ‘I know you can score the basketball. I’m not concerned about you scoring the basketball.’ We have to stay disciplined on defense. If we play defense, I don’t think nobody can hang with us.”

Students can see the Titans’ next home game against Raritan Valley at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 27 in the Health and Physical Education building gymnasium.

CCM basketball seasons tip off

 BY BRETT FRIEDENSOHN
Sports Editor

The men’s and women’s basketball teams at County College of Morris began their 2016-17 seasons Tuesday, Nov. 8 when each team played a game against region competitor Mercer County Community College (MCCC).

Men’s basketball won its opening game 101-97 in overtime before improving to 2-0 both in the region and overall with a 101-84 win over Valley Forge Military Academy and College (VFMAC) Tuesday, Nov. 15.

Women’s basketball lost its season opener 72-33, then lost 98-9 to Harcum College Saturday, Nov. 12, bringing the team’s regional record to 0-2. The team then lost to VFMAC 76-19 Tuesday, Nov. 15, dropping its overall record to 0-3.

Brenda DeNure, head coach of women’s basketball, said that before the beginning of the season, seven of her recruits decided not to play in order to focus on school.

The team then did not have enough players to begin practicing three weeks before the season began as DeNure had wanted. Finally with nine players, they began practices just one week before the season began.

“I was a little disappointed, very disappointed with how they decided to do that, but what are you gonna do?” DeNure said. “When a coach recruits you, you don’t say, ‘I’m gonna play’ if you’re not gonna play, so it’s a little disappointing.”

DeNure said that she did not believe that her team would advance to the playoffs this season, but she hopes that it can use this season for rebuilding.

“We don’t have the talent,” DeNure said. “We’re just too raw. We’re too young. They’ve got a lot to learn, so build this year up.”

Zabrina Gale, forward and captain of the women’s basketball team, said after her team’s season opener that she hoped that the team would learn from the loss.

“I think it was a very tough game to begin with,” said Gale, a psychology major. “We definitely can work on a little more things just so we’re ready for the next game.”

CCM athletic director Jack Sullivan said that he expects the women to work diligently to improve.

“The women are a work in progress,” Sullivan said. “The women have work to do. They know that, and they’ll get it. They’re not afraid of hard work.”

Gale said everyone is giving 100 percent  and that’s all she can ask for.

During its season opener against MCCC, the men’s basketball team came back from a 12-point deficit in the second half to win 101-97 in overtime.

“The men showed a lot of heart, played great defense, had a great come-from-behind win,” Sullivan said. “It’s a great way to open up the season for the region.”

TJ Adams, men’s basketball forward and liberal arts major, said that during the second half of the game, he and his team brought vigor that it did not have in the first half.

“I say the energy in the first half was lacking,” Adams said. “They came back, but we were able to maintain the confidence to win that game. It was a very winnable game.”

Adams said that his team should work on defense.

“As a team, I think we need to work on our defensive principles,” Adams said. “Like, we score the ball well, but the team should not be scoring 90 points on us.”

Shooting hoops to ‘Kill Cancer’

BY BRETT FRIEDENSOHN
Sports Editor

 

The women’s basketball team at the County College of Morris dedicated its final game of the 2015-16 season as a “Kill Cancer Night” and a “Sophomore Night.”

The team donated the proceeds from its final game of the 2015-16 season to the Hackensack University Medical Center to help alleviate the medical bills of one of the hospital’s leukemia patients, the father of a player on the team. The team raised money by charging attendees admission and accepting donations.

“I was pleased that [the players] were doing a community service,” said Brenda DeNure, head coach of women’s basketball. “I think it’s important that the girls understand what it means to be a part of the community.”

Some players on the team spoke about the effect that the event will have.

“[The patient] loves basketball; he loves watching his daughter play, so I think she thought it was pretty nice of us to get something like that together to do that for him,” said Pamela Hun, nutrition major. “We had matching socks, we made bows for each other for the game, and we all got together for a cause to play basketball and raise money for her father. “

Brielle Bolgero, exercise science major, said the event accomplished a lot.

“Us donating it really helped a lot of people,” Bolgero said.

Bolgero said she admired the generosity people on the men’s basketball team showed who attended the event.

“Even though we didn’t charge the boys any money to watch, all of them did donate money,” Bolgero said. “That was a nice thing to hear.”

To show their support, about 50 to 60 people attended the game.

“We raised awareness that we have a CCM basketball team, and people came to support, so maybe next year, the girls will have more supporters and fans to come out for them,” Hun said. “It keeps you positive when people are watching and cheering for you, so I feel that it will be better for the team next year.”

Monica Kulelcki, an exercise science major, said she was impressed with the turnout.

“It was our last game, so I was hoping a lot of people would come out and support us,”

Before the game, DeNure gave her sophomores a speech and several gifts, including a cake with pictures of the their faces, basketball shaped cookies with their names on it, balloons, and flowers.

“I really enjoyed it,” said Michaela Piserchia, a hospitality management major. “I wasn’t sure if they were gonna do anything like that. Last year we were kind of in between coaches, and so they weren’t really sure what to do. It was really nice that they recognized the sophomores.”

DeNure said the sophomores, who will not play for CCM next season, played their hearts out in their last game.

“They gave everything they had,” said DeNure. “I said, ‘It was the last game you will play here. Give it everything you’ve got.’”

Hun, a sophomore, said it might be her last game in general.

“I mean, for me, I’ve been playing my whole life, so it was just sad to realize that I’m never going to play on an actual team again,” said Hun.

Bolgero, another sophomore, said they went into the game trying to get a win against their tough competitor, Manor College.

“We all played really hard and gave it our all,” said Bolgero.

According to DeNure, the team lost 69-40 to Manor, but managed to raise $130 for their cause.

 

Basketball season tips off for winter

BY BRETT FRIEDENSOHN
Sports Editor

The winter season and the men’s and women’s basketball seasons have begun at the County College of Morris. The men have lost their first five games. After losing their first three games, the women went 2-1 in their next three in Region XIX. Their first win came during the semifinals of the Turkey Hoop Shoot Tournament against Rowan College on Nov 21, their first win during the tournament in about 30 years and acquiring a plaque to commemorate it.

The Women’s Basketball team has a general consensus that their ability to play as a team has improved since their slow start.

“It’s hard because I adopted this team,” said head coach Brenda DeNure, who coached her first season at CCM for a team that had no coach last season.

DeNure said that the three students who returned to the team from last year relied on their habits of leading themselves in the beginning and often did not follow instructions.

“After two games of being blown out, I said ‘We’re going to do it my way now,’” DeNure said. “And they realized, ‘Hey, we can win.’ And we did.”

Coach DeNure comes to campus with 27 years of coaching experience at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and girl’s rec in Roxbury with Assistant Coach Jill Scully.

“They’re really good girls,” DeNure said. “They work very hard, they do what they’re asked. The stubbornness is actually not a bad thing sometimes, because they’ll take it out on the court.”  

Anna Koepfler, women’s basketball player and engineering science major, said she thought they lost in the beginning because they were a new team with a new coach.

“We’re all new to each other,” Koepfler said. “I expect us to get more wins, I think we lost in the beginning because our shots weren’t following, and we’re a new team. Our record doesn’t show how good we really are, so some teams come out and they think it’s gonna be an easy win, but we really try to hold out.”

Kopfler said that her teammates have learned to communicate well and not hold grudges, and she complimented Coach Denure’s knowledge of the sport.

“If we evolve on different levels as it relates to the game we will prevail, but it starts in the classroom,” said Eric Powe, Head Coach of the men’s team. “The team has great potential, however we need to identify what we do well and keep doing it.”