A season of historic firsts for the Eastern Florida State College’s women’s basketball team ended on March 19 in the semifinals of the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Division I National Tournament.
The Titans finished their season with a sterling 33-2 record following a narrow 71-70 defeat to Trinity Valley Community College of Texas, in which the Cardinals’ Makiyah McCollister hit a shot with 0.2 seconds left to give Trinity Valley the win.
Despite the difficult ending, the Titans have can take pride in a season that was the best in school history. EFSC was seeded in the top eight in the national tournament at No. 2 overall for the first time in school history, and made its first-ever national semifinal.
EFSC also won the Region VIII Tournament earlier in March, which gave the team an automatic bid to the national tournament and helped give the team its lofty seed. The tournament features the best teams in Florida, and the Titans’ win was both their first in school history and broke a string of 25 straight years in which a team from the state’s panhandle had won the tournament.
“I am so proud of this team, we have made so much history this season, winning a Region VIII state title is so hard to do and it speaks volumes about this group,” said EFSC head coach MJ Baker, in a message to Hometown News via EFSC manager of athletic communications Michael Parsons. “They are such a special group. They are such a special group on and off the court. But we could not have done it without the support of Eastern Florida State College president Dr. James Richey and (Associate Vice President of Athletics) Jeff Carr.”
EFSC also attained its first-ever No. 1 national ranking in December.
The Titans defeated Northwest Florida State College 48-43 in the championship game of the Region VIII Tournament at NFSC’s campus in Niceville.
NFSC won the national championship when it defeated Trinity Valley 66-63 in overtime.
Ms. Baker noted the impact that graduating sophomores L’or Eyeba Mputu (the team’s leading scorer), Shadaria Smith, Hanna Mebius-Svensson, Elli Garnett, Madlena Irena Gerke and Leilani Guion (who tied for second on the team in scoring with Ms. Smith) have had on the program.
“The sophomores have helped the program grow so much over the past two seasons. They have not lost a conference game, won a state championship and played in the national tournament the past two seasons,” Ms. Baker said. “I cannot put into words what this group means to the coaching staff and the program. It has truly been a team effort and we have preached strength in numbers all season and I think it showed during the state and national tournaments. It wasn’t the ending that we hoped for, but I could not be more proud of everything we have accomplished this season.”
Ms. Garnett, along with freshman Isimenme Ozzy-Momodu was named to the NJCAA Division I All-Tournament Team. Ms. Garnett scored a season-high 28 points and added 10 rebounds against Trinity Valley in what was her second double-double of the season.
In EFSC’s 82-77 quarterfinal win over Wabash Valley (Ill.) College, Ms. Ozzy-Momodu scored a season-high 24 points and pulled down a season-high 18 rebounds along with three blocks, two steals and an assist.
Ms. Guion was chosen as the Most Outstanding Player of the Region VIII Tournament and was named to both the all-Central Conference first team and all-state teams. Ms. Mputu was named the all-Central Conference Player of the Year and to the all-state team.
Ms. Smith was also named to the first team all-Central Conference team.
In all, the Titans finished 61-7 the last two seasons.
Those interested in more information should visit efsctitans.com.
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