Rochester Hills, Mich- With the snow melted and the temperatures rising, the end of basketball season has come upon us once again. As the baseball and softball players begin their season, the Rochester College men and women's basketball teams finished their seasons last week at the USCAA National Championships Tournament. The Men ended the year 26-8, and second in the USCAA. The women put up 22 wins, and ended the year fourth in the USCAA.
The men came into the season under new head coach, Klint Pleasant. The team started out hot, winning 9 of their first 10 games. The Warriors played a tough middle of the season, with losses against Tennessee-Martin, Eastern Michigan, and Oakland University. Rochester College played extremely well at home, going a perfect 12-0. Heading into the USCAA National Tournament, ranked as the top seed, the Warriors won all but one game in the months of January and February. While in Uniontown, Pennsylvania for the national tournament, Rochester College came out strong with two victories over Maine-Fort Kent and a tough Ave Maria team. The Warriors fell in a heartbreaker to Oakwood University in the finals, 54-51, to conclude the season.
"I am very pleased with the way our season went. Obviously we wanted to win the championship game and I especially wanted it for our seniors and all our former players who have given so much to the program," said Coach Klint Pleasant. "The season was a success. Just to get there took amazing effort. We had great leadership all year and were fortunate enough to have a bunch of first class guys."
Dramell Hogan (Detroit, MI./ Walled Lake Western) led the Warriors with 16.13 points per game this season, and was second in rebounding with 7.1 rebounds per game. Senior Rick Doran (Clinton Twp.,/ MI./ Chippewa Valley) averaged 12.47 points per game, and a team high 7.33 points per game. Both Hogan and Doran were named first team All-Americans by the USCAA, as well as being named to the All-Tournament team. Stephan Henning (Beloit, WI./ Rochester) led the team with 4.93 assists per game, and averaged just over 6 points per game. Henning was named as an All-American honorable mention by the USCAA.
Looking forward to next season, the Warriors will lose three seniors: Doran, Henning, and Torey Throop (Vestaburg, MI./ Kirtland CC). The team's leading scorer, Hogan, will be back for one more year next season. When asked about next season, Coach Pleasant said, "I am already antsy to get going for next year. I am so excited about the guys we have coming back and I expect us to have a very productive off-season. The key will once again be leadership and a commitment to work ethic and a team attitude. I am also excited about some of the recruits we are working to add."
Much like the men's team, the women's basketball team finished on top of the USCAA. In his second season as headman, Eric Sims led the Lady Warriors to a 22-15 record. Rochester College played a tough schedule against Wayne State University, Oakland University, and Grand Valley State University. The Lady Warriors had big wins over Briarcliff College, Marygrove College, and Indiana University- Northwest. They put together a great run in the month of January, going 8-1, with their only loss to Calvin College. Rochester College went into the USCAA National Tournament as the number one seed, and started off hot with wins in the first two rounds to advance to the final four. The Lady Warriors ended the tournament with losses in the semis to Selma and UC-Clermont in the third place game.
"Overall, we have a lot to be proud of about this past season. I believe we won the most games in any one season in this program's history (22)," said Coach Sims. "We overcame a lot of adversity with all of the injuries that we had. Ka'imana Ka'aikala (Stanton, MI./ Lakeview), Whitney Newsom (Rochester Hills, MI./ Adams) and Jazzmone Russell (Hurricane, WV./ Hurricane) all did some good things in bigger roles as wing players. Abby Schlaegel (Port Huron, MI./ St. Clair CC) and Liz Stockwell (Moline, IL./ Moline) had solid senior seasons. Sam Tomaschko (Romeo, MI./ Romeo) once again led us offensively and defensively to the point where she made 1st team All-American and the All-National Tournament team. And Lexy Newsom (Rochester Hills, MI./ Adams) played point guard to such success that she was honorable mention All-American."
As the Lady Warriors prepare for next season, their leading scorer and rebounder, Tomaschko, will be back for one more season. Tomaschko averaged 12.79 points per game and 10.49 rebounds per game. She finished in the top 12 in rebounding in all of the USCAA. Ke'ala and Ka'imana each contributed just less than 9 points per game this season. Lexy Newsom will return as Rochester College's leader in assists at 4.71 assists per game. Tomaschko was named first team USCAA All-American team, and the All-Tournament team. Lexy Newsom was an All-American honorable mention. Ke'ala Ka'aikala (Stanton, MI./ Lakeview), Lexy Newsom, and Whitney Newsom were honored as Academic All-Americans.
"I'm happy that we made it to the final four and I look for even more improvement next year," said Coach Sims. "We have just about everyone coming back next year so I expect to compete for a USCAA national championship. We also will have Katy Pierson coming off a redshirt year and a good recruiting class coming in so there is plenty to look forward to in the future."