For the past 22 years, the men's basketball program has had repeated success. Multiple trips to the NJCAA National Tournament. Multiple KJCCC Conference titles. Multiple all conference player selections. Multiple...you get it.
For the 23rd straight year, the program added another successful page to their history.
This year, the Red Ravens had a strong season finishing 29-5 including a 17 game win streak.
"We had a really good year that would have been considered a great year if we had done better at the National Tournament," said head coach Jay Herkelman.
Herkelman was referencing their 90-85 second round loss to Connors State in the NJCAA National Tournament.
While the Red Ravens had an early exit in the tournament, they had several outstanding performances.
Leading the success story would be the NJCAA Hall of Fame induction of head coach Herkelman. The NJCAA comittee selected Herkelman to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame after his long term success. Ending the season with a staggering 603-181 (a .769 winning percentage) Herkelman has been a staple of success for the Red Ravens and the KJCCC. Herkelman was also named the KJCCC Coach of the Year.
On the player side, the Red Ravens once again showed their talents as four players were recognized as top players in the conference.
TJ Washington, "The President" (he was dubbed that name by local radio sports host Matt Jordan for his amazing leadership play), was named to the KJCCC First Team All-Conference Team. Washington lead the team averaging 14.1 points, 3.6 assists per game and placed third with 1.3 steals per game.
"The most memorable moment for me was when we beat Hutch on a buzzer beater," said Washington.
Not only was Washington recognized by the conference as one of the top players, he was also recognized by the NJCAA as he was selected to the Region VI All-Tournament Team, as well as, Tournament MVP.
Joining Washington on the KJCCC First Team All-Conference was freshman standout Marvin Johnson. Johnson wowed fans all season with his athleticism and precision shooting. Johnson placed second on the team averaging per game 13.8 points, third in assists with 1.7, first in steals and blocks with 2.2 and 0.9 respectively. Seeing Johnson in his debut, gives the coaching staff tremendous confidence moving forward to next season.
Freshman Casey Benton was another Red Raven standout as he earned a spot for the KJCCC Second Team All-Conference Team. Benton was one of the most consistent players for the Red Ravens. Benton averaged 10.7 points, 1.7 assists, 1.4 steals per game. The freshman started 30 of his 34 games played and was a player teams all around the conference schemed against.
Not to be left out, Keon Queen (another freshman), joined the postseason accolades capturing All-KJCCC Honorable Mention. Queen showed his athleticism as he played well down low in the paint. Queen's ability to maneuver in the paint, as well as shoot, made teams play stretched which often left the lane open for Johnson, Benton, or Washington.
"Obviously it's disappointing the way it ended so fast at the National Tournament, but after you get away from that and reflect back, to be able to win this conference and the follow up with a region championship, with all the quality teams in the Jayhawk, is an awesome accomplishment," said Herkelman.
While their tournament run did not last as long as many predicted, Herkelman and his staff have many things to reflect on and be proud of, as do the fans.
"29-5 is a heck of a good season," said Herkelman. "The players should be proud."
2017-2018 Postseason Awards
NJCAA Region VI All-Tournament Team
TJ Washington--Tournament MVP
Joshua Hill, SO, F
Casey Benton, FR, G
KJCCC 1st Team All-Conference
TJ Washington, SO, G
Marvin Johnson, FR, G
KJCCC 2nd Team All-Conference
Casey Benton, FR, G
KJCCC Honorable Mention
Keon Queen, FR, F