NCCC hoopsters collect honors
SARANAC LAKE — Although the North Country Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams didn’t meet one of their main goals of advancing deeper into the playoffs, both sqauds enjoyed memorable, as well as historic seasons.
The Saints women made history by winning their program’s first Mountain Valley Athletic Conference championship, and the team also advanced to the NJCAA Region III semifinals before ending a playoff run with a 24-5 overall record.
NCCC’s men bowed out in the Region III quarterfinal round and finished the year with a 21-8 record. It marked the second straight season the Saints surpassed the 20-win plateau, and during the campaign, sophomore Damon Hunter became the school’s career leader in points scored.
Six NCCC players — three women and three men — were honored by the MVAC and Region III as all-star selections. And the Saints accolades didn’t stop there as women’s head coach, Jerrad Dumont, was named Coach of the Year in both the MVAC and Region III.
Ty Taylor, Bridget Rust and Jasmine Cruse were all-conference picks for the women, while Hunter, Malik Wilkinson and Shamar Logins were recognized for their performances on the men’s team.
Taylor, a freshman from Alexandria, Virginia paved the way for the women as a first-team choice in both the MVAC and Region III. Taylor played in all 29 Saints games and at times, showed the ability to take over at both ends of the court. She scored a team-high 333 points for an average of 11.5 per game, led the team in assists with 172 and also hauled down 173 rebounds.
Playing in her second and final season with the Saints, Dekalb Junction’s Bridget Rust was named a MVAC second-team player and third-team all-Region III selection. She was second on the team in scoring with 275 points and a 9.5 points per game average. Rust connected on 40.2 percent of her 3-pointer attempts and finished with 69 assists.
Cruse, a freshman from Porter, Texas, was a second-team MVAC selection, after turning in an impressive effort as an impact player down low for NCCC’s women. She finished the year with 245 rebounds and also scored 227 points for an average per game of 7.8.
Hunter, Wilkinson and Logins are all sophormores who will be missed in the lineup next season for the Saints.
During his second season at NCCC, Hunter posted huge statistics for a Saints team that notched signature wins over nationally ranked Herkimer and Mohawk Valley community college teams. The graduate of Lyons High School in central New York was a first-team selection on both MVAC and Region III all-star teams.
Hunter set a new career scoring mark when he drained 48 points in the Saints final regular season game of the year — a 99-82 win over Herkimer — and added 29 more in the Saints’ 96-91 playoff loss to Cayuga, to finish with a new Saints record of 1,298 points. An accurate shooter inside and outside, Hunter knocked down 57.9 percent of his field goal attempts, including a 54.3 percent performance from 3-point range. He finished the season with 721 points and an average of 27.7 points per game, and added 173 assists and recorded 198 rebounds.
Logins appeared in all but one of the Saints 29 games this season and was named a third-team pick in the MVAC. The guard from Newark, New York averaged 13.7 points per game while finishing the season with 383 points. He had 65 assists and hauled down 143 rebounds.
Wilkinson, a 6-foot-4 forward from Rochester was a force down low for the Saints before having his season cut short with five games remaining with a knee injury. He was named a second-team MVAC selection and a Region III third-team player. In 24 games played, Wilkinson scored 339 points for an average of 14.1 per game. He made 55.8 percent of his shots from the floor and pulled down 311 rebounds.