It’s been an incredible basketball season at Monroe College as both the men’s and women’s teams have each earned the top-seeds in their respective Region XV tournaments. Despite a sluggish 6-5 start that knocked the Mustangs off their pre-season perch as an NJCAAtop-20 team, coach Jeff Brustad’s team of young players jelled as the season went along. They won 12 of their last 13 games including the last six in-a-row and finished 22-8, 2-2 in Region XV, Division I.
“As a team, we started to understand each other’s capabilities and the roles individuals would have to play to be successful,” said Coach Brustad. “We can score a lot of points, but in the post-season, our success will depend on our ability to defend.” The Lady Mustangs have been ranked as a top-10 team throughout the season and are currently ranked at number-6 in the NJCAA. Coach Seth Goodman’s deep team also started the season slowly, losing their first three before reeling off five in a row to right their season. They finished at 22-7, 17-3 in Region XV, Division III.
According to Coach Goodman, it was learning a good work ethic that got them past the slow start and could propel them through the post-season. “When we stepped on the court at the beginning everyone knew we were going to be a good team. But you have to work to be special,” he said. “The playoffs are a ‘one-and-done’ situation and we have to make sure we play our best in each game and not let opportunities slip away.”
Three Lady Mustang sophomores won all-star awards this season. Guard Cherita Gray was named a first-team all-region player, forward Ketshiga Fearon a second-team all-region player, and forward/center Lora Morton won all-region honorable mention. Morton is listed at 15th in the NJCAA with 9.5rpg, Gray is 14th with 4.6apg and 11th with 3.9spg, and Fearon is also in the top-25 with 3.0spg.
All-region honors for the men will be given out during the upcoming tournament. Freshman forward Garfield Johns was the team’s leading scorer and the 15th -ranked scorer in the nation at 19.6ppg. Sophomore guard Elvis Rivera is in the nation’s top-25 in assists with 6.5apg. As the first-seed in the tournament, the Mustangs will receive a bye in the semi-final round. They will play the winner of Globe and Westchester on Sunday at Westchester Community College at 3pm.
The Lady Mustangs will play as the first seed in the semi-final round against the winner of BMCC and Suffolk-Selden on Saturday at 3pm at Sullivan Community College, in Loch Sheldrake, NY. If they win that game, they’ll play in the Region XV finals at 12pm, also at Sullivan CC.