After countless hours of mental and physical conditioning, a tremendous amount of tactical coaching and a spectacular season of hard fought victories, both the men's and women’s basketball teams of Emmanuel College have found themselves exactly where they aimed to be at the beginning of the year — competing for a national title.
The women, competing in Winona Lake, Indiana, are striving to claim a prestigious Division I National Championship at the NCCAA National Tournament, while the men, competing in Kansas City, Missouri, are shooting to bring home the first NAIA National Championship in the school’s history.
“We earned the ability to attend the NCCAA National Tournament this year by winning the South Regional NCCAA Title,” said women’s head coach Mike Bona. “This team has worked incredibly hard to achieve what it has this year, and will continue to do so as we advance on to the national level.”
The women finished the regular season with a winning record of 17-14, while the men likewise had an impressive record of 26-7. The men’s team ignited their drive towards the national title after knocking off the No. 2 ranked team in the nation, Mountain State University, on February 22 during regular season play, and then never looked back as they went on to defeat Southern Poly Tech in the SSAC Championship game, claimed their first SSAC Championship and secured their spot in the NAIA National Tournament.
“This entire season has felt amazing, and it’s as if every year our team sets out to achieve, break or set some record that our school has never done before,” said starter Graham Maxwell. “Winning the conference tournament was the greatest feeling I’ve ever had playing basketball, and it’s great knowing that all the hard work we’ve put in has paid off with rewards like these. I’ll remember this feeling for the rest of my life, but for now it’s time to focus on the next thing ahead — and that’s winning the national tournament!”
Both teams begin the first rounds of their respective tournaments on Thursday, March 17. The No. 3 ranked Emmanuel College women will face No. 6 ranked Trinity International University at 3:00 p.m. in the NCCAA Tournament, and the men will battle against No. 12 ranked Tougaloo College at 4:30 p.m. in the NAIA Tournament.
The women’s tournament games can be seen all week long via a live video webcast that can be accessed through Grace College’s Athletic website, www.grace.edu/athletics. The men’s games can be heard live via the Emmanuel College Athletics page at www.goeclions.com.