Sunday, February 29 was a day to remember for Monroe College basketball. First, the Monroe Lady Mustangs won their first-ever NJCAA Region XV (Division III) championship with a 79-68 win over Dutchess Community College. Then later in the day, the Monroe Mustangs won their secondconsecutive NJCAA Region XV (Division I) championship with a heart-stopping, buzzer-beating, 84-81 win over Westchester Community College.
“Winning two region championships in one day says a lot about the quality of our athletes, coaches, and athletic program,” said Athletic Director Bert Shillingford. “We expect to play big roles in the upcoming district and national tournaments.”
The Mustangs (23-8) were the top seed in the Region XV Division I Tournament and, as a result, earned a bye in the semi-final round. In Sunday’s championship game played at Westchester Community College in Valhalla, NY, Monroe led virtually the whole game (41-29 at half) until 4:39 in the second-half when Westcoes center James Smith jammed one in to tie the score at 67. Down 80-79 at :19, Monroe’s Garfield ‘Ricky’ Johns drove to the hoop for a layup to give Monroe a 1-point lead. A foul shot by Westchester’s Kenneth Webster tied the game at 81 with only five-seconds remaining on the clock. Monroe in-bounded from its own end and freshman guard Garfield Johns drove the left side of the court, stopped and popped a 3-pointer… good… at the buzzer! And Monroe won the Region Championship, 84-81!
After the game, the Region XV Post-season awards were presented. Freshman guard Garfield Johns was named Tournament MVP, sophomores Mike Johnson and Elvis Rivera were named to the All-tournament first team and sophomore Randy Alexandre was named to the second team. The Region XV Player of the Year was Johns, and Johnson was named to the All-region team. Alxeandre and sophomore Willie Youtchou made second team all-region. Monroe Coach Jeff Brustad was awarded Region XV Coach of the Year.
The Mustangs will now play in the District III Tournament March 6-7 at Allegany, CC in Cumberland, Md. In the semi-finals on Saturday at 5pm, they’ll play Garrett College with the winner advancing to the finals on Sunday. The winner of the District Tournament will then qualify for play in the NJCAA National tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas on March 16-20.
MONROE LADY MUSTANGS
The Lady Mustangs (24-7) had advanced to the Region XV finals with a 75-56 win over Suffolk Selden at Sullivan Community College in Loch Sheldrake, NY on Saturday. Monroe played sluggishly in the first-half and went into intermission tied 29-29. But, they went on a 13-0 run early in the secondhalf to catapult them to their first-ever appearance in the Region XV championship game. Sophomore Cherita Gray had 21-points and freshman Telisha Moutre had 14 points and 9 rebounds in the game. In Sunday’s final, the Lady Mustangs never trailed. Sophomore Ketshiga Fearon led the team with 18 points and was named to the All-tournament team. Cherita Gray had 14 points, including 3-for-5 from 3-point range and was named the Tournament MVP. Moultre added a double-double, 10 points and 10 rebounds, and sophomore Lora Morton had 15 points. The Lady Mustangs will play in the NJCAA Division III National Championships, March 11-13. Their opponent in the first round has yet to be determined.