Tag: NJCAA Basketball

man with college students

SAU Tech Names Lady Rockets Head Coach

Camden, Arkansas-Southern Arkansas University Tech announced earlier this morning in a Facebook LIVE announcement that Aramie Brooks has taken the position of head coach for the Lady Rockets.
Brooks, 33, is a graduate of Earle High School in Arkansas and has been working for SAU Tech as a recruiter, assistant men’s coach, and for part of the 2019-2020 basketball season, interim women’s coach. Brooks graduated in 2006 from high school after a basketball career that included being named All-Conference, All-District, All-State, and Regional MVP. After high school, Brooks played for the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith for two years and then transferred to Northwestern State in Louisiana, where he played ball and graduated with a bachelor of science degree.

Brooks left the US to play overseas basketball for the next eight years of his life, returning to see family. It was during one of his visits home that his daughter asked him when he was going to come home to stay. Brooks wanted to stay connected to the game and get closer to home. His grandmother suggested that he consider coaching, and Brooks applied to SAU Tech in 2018 for the head coach of the Lady Rockets. He was not hired for the job but was instead hired as a recruiter and assistant men’s coach under Coach Levinson.

During the 2019-2020 season, a coaching change brought Brooks on as an interim coach for the Lady Rockets. During this time, he was able to lead the team to win games, and the Lady Rockets made it the championship game for the NJCAA Region 2 Division II playoffs despite the team’s rocky season start.

David Mcleane, SAU Tech Vice Chancellor for Student Services and Athletic Director, had this to say about Brooks. “As Athletic Director, I have heard several coaches and athletic directors make positive comments about the great job Coach Brooks has done in elevating the level of play by the Lady Rockets. When Coach Brooks took over the team, they were struggling, and under his leadership, the Lady Rockets were able to win five of eleven games. They tied for second in conference play and went one to one against the number one seed during the regular season. The Lady Rockets finished second in the Region II Conference playoffs.

When asked what he sees for his future and the future of the Lady Rockets, Brooks said, “My future goal for the team is to develop a championship-caliber team. I want to focus on developing them as both athletes and future citizens. I want the team to be involved in our community as well as myself. For my personal goals, I want to pursue my master’s degree in the future.”

Dr. Jason Morrison says that “Coach Brooks fits the SAU Tech high-intensity mindset which drives success. He is extremely motivated to be successful, and it shows on the court and in the classroom of the Lady Rockets.”

Brooks is dedicated to his family and enjoys the time he spends with his two daughters.

young man in basketball uniform

Stevens Named MVP for the Second Time

The close of the SAU Tech Rocket men’s basketball season ended with a loss to North Arkansas College but revealed another layer of talent that one player has displayed throughout his two years as a Rocket.

Starter, Sheldon Stevens, from Kansas City, Missouri, and graduate of Grandview High School, brings another layer of skill to the court every time he plays. He is one of the original players the first-year the SAU Tech Rockets took the court in 2018 and has grown as a player and person during his time at SAU Tech. Stevens stated that “Playing at SAU Tech under Coach Levinson helped me prepare for the next level in many ways. He has taught me how to be a leader, on and off the court, how to act like a professional athlete, and to never take the little things in life for granted.”

Coached by Martin Levinson, Stevens has left an impression with his coach as well. “Sheldon came to SAU Tech and believed in us as a college and as a coaching staff from day one. When he arrived on campus, we had not yet started our first season of play, and he set the tone with his work ethic. Sheldon has a special ability to score the basketball in a lot of ways. To be a two-time NJCAA Region 2 Division II MVP shows his consistency as a player and we all look forward to watching him continue his success at Oral Roberts University next year!”

Stevens’s smile and playful demeanor have endured him to the staff and faculty at the College, including SAU Tech Chancellor, Dr. Jason Morrison, and his wife, Stephanie. “Sheldon is a tremendous shooter, and he plays with such aggression on the court. Knowing the adversities he has overcome to get where he is today is genuinely humbling for us. Stephanie and I believe this young man has a bright future on and off the court, and we are so blessed to have the chance to have him as part of the Rocket Family.”

Dr. Jason Morrison, SAU Tech Chancellor, and Sheldon Stevens.

The NJCAA chose Stevens as the Region 2 Division II MVP and for the All-Region First-Team. This is the second time for Stevens to earn both designations while playing for the SAU Tech Rockets. Stevens will transfer in May to Oral Roberts University where he will play for the Golden Eagles.

Rocket Cheer Squad

The Rockets Wind it Up with Wins

by Joel Gray

Camden, AR—In their final games of the 2018-19 basketball season, the SAU Tech women and men continued their nearly-inconceivable accomplishment—winning in their first seasons on the basketball court. On Thursday (2/28) the victories came over fellow Region 2 Conference member, National Park College from Hot Springs, AR, whom both Rockets squads had defeated in their earlier matchups back in January. This time the Lady Rockets prevailed over NPC, 79-63, and the Rocket men defeated the Nighthawks, 105-99.

This game was the final outing for the Tech teams in Shaddock Fieldhouse—they’ll be playing on campus next season—and Coach Andre Williams’ women took to the floor first, methodically managing the game against their Nighthawks counterparts, finishing the first quarter with a 16-11 lead. National Park kept it close, however, getting outscored in the second period by only a point, and at intermission, the Tech ladies only led 36-30. In the third, a 17-13 advantage inched the Rockets out a bit further to 53-43. And in the fourth ten-minute stanza, a six-point margin, 26-20, added up to the final tally and a Tech victory by sixteen points.

National Park’s women had four players with double-digits on the board, and three with multiple 3-pointers. Both categories were led by Hailee Crosby who totaled 27 points, hitting six shots from beyond-the-arc. The Lady Nighthawks were also concluding their inaugural season, doing so with a 4-14 overall record, 0-4 in Region 2 play.

Three Lady Rockets scored ten-or-more in this final game. Devena Smith’s team-leading 27 points were part of an outstanding personal performance that included a double-double comprised of 12 field goals and ten rebounds. Brandashia Hargraves was next with 20 points—12 of them coming on her four treys. Alex Parris added another 14.

Brandashia completes the regular-season as the Region 2 Conference’s top 3-Point Percentage shooter with a 50% output—that stat also landing her in the second-place position in the nation. Devena finishes as Region 2’s leader in Points-Per-Game (16.6), as well as in Field Goal Percentage (59.4%).
The Lady Rockets finish at 11-6 overall, and 2-2 in the R2C.

It was also Sophomore Night for SAU Tech, and after the women’s contest, there was a poignant pause to honor the athletes who were completing their careers as Rockets. The Ladies bid farewell to Alex Parris and Brandashia Hargraves, while the men said good-bye to Miles Weber, Jamie Hastings, and Mike Boatright.

Next, the men hit the hardwood, and the Nighthawks flew out to an early first-half lead, shocking the Shaddock Fieldhouse home crowd with a 12-0 run from the tip-off. Head Coach Marty Levinson called timeout and rallied his perhaps-rattled Rockets, and they fought back against the fierce determination of National Park, narrowing the margin, but remaining behind at the half, 49-46.

After the break, nearly seven more minutes would see NPC out front on the board, but at the 13:04 mark of the second half, the Rockets finally took the lead for the first time in the game, 67-66. It was the outstanding performances of Sheldon Steven and Manny Anderson—coming out of the locker room—that ignited the comeback, and the Tech men went on to outscore the Nighthawks 38-33 the rest of the way to secure the six-point come-from-behind victory.

National Park had four in double-digits, and three with multiple threes. K. J. Corder led the way with 27 points and three treys. The disappointing loss, in what was also their final game of the season, dropped the Nighthawks to 16-8 overall, but 0-6 in the Region 2 Conference.
The Rockets fixed five players in double-digits, and two with multiple three-pointers. Steven

Led, scoring 24 points—19 in the second half—and hit two from 3-point range. Anderson was next with 19—16 of those also in the second half. He also racked up 12 rebounds. Mike Boatright added 18 while sneaking five steals onto the stat-sheet. Will Bynum put up 13—6 of them coming on his two threes. And Malik Miller tallied 12 more to the score, also securing five steals for the defense.
At the end of the regular-season, Steven lands in first place in the Region 2 Conference standings in Points-Per-Game (19.9) and also in Total Points (517). Boatright is first in Steals (90), and Jaland Mitchell (who missed this final game, due to injury) finishes in first place in Blocks (46).

The Rockets complete the year at 19-10 overall, and 5-1 in the conference.
The season is over for Tech now, but only because the NJCAA requires new athletic participants to serve a one-year probationary period which makes them ineligible to win a conference title or to play in the post-season. How much farther might the Rockets have gone? That, of course, is speculative, but there would have been at least one more game per squad. The Lady Rockets finished 2nd in Region 2 and could have challenged NorthArk for the championship, and—amazingly—the men finished 1st in the regular-season standings and would have hosted a playoff game in the conference’s post-season.

Nevertheless, SAU Tech’s inauguration into junior college athletics can only be seen as a success. The future for the tiny East Camden, AR junior college has been foreshadowed. The Rockets have launched, and their impact upon NJCAA Division-II basketball is bound to be a thrill to behold.

Rockets Back on Top

By Joel Gray

West Memphis, AR—After Tuesday’s (2/19) non-conference road loss, at Poplar Bluff, MO, to Division-I Three Rivers College, 96-80—to split the series with the Raiders—Coach Marty Levinson’s 17-10 Rockets traveled again on Saturday (2/23) for their pivotal league rematch with the 20-7 Arkansas State-MidSouth Greyhounds.

The Greyhounds have been in-and-out of the NJCAA Top Twenty all season, and still received votes to re-enter it in the latest poll. They also were 4-1 in Region 2 Conference play, which had them at the top of the league’s standings. However, that one loss came in their first contest with SAU Tech, back on February 12th, in Shaddock Fieldhouse, when the Rockets won their first-ever conference game, 87-83. It was to be the only blemish on the Greyhounds’ conference record; that is, until the second-place Rockets arrived at The Dog House in West Memphis and swept the series by defeating MidSouth for a second time, winning by the score of 71-68.

The victory ensured that SAU Tech, in its first year of competition, would finish the regular season in first place in the Region 2 Conference, despite being ineligible for the league title or post- season play, due to the mandatory one-year probationary period that all new NJCAA athletic programs must serve. Quite an accomplishment for a start-up program.

The victory was never a given, however, as was demonstrated by MidSouth taking a 30-27 lead into the locker room at the half. It remained close throughout the second half with the game being tied at 59-59 with just under 4:30 to play. But a 12-9 scoring advantage for Tech in that remaining span gave them the 3-point decision.

Remarkably, it was free-throw shooting that ultimately saved the day for the Rockets. So many of the their previous ten losses can be attributed to poor percentages at the line, but on this night, they shot nearly 78%, with perfect charity-stripe performances from Malik Miller (6-6), Mike Boatright (2- 2), and Will Bynum (2-2). The Greyhounds only found the free-throw hoop 42% of the time.

With the loss, ASU-MidSouth fell to 20-8 overall, and 4-2—and second-place—in the conference, despite having four players with double-digits and two with double-doubles. They were led by Jalen Lynn, who had another outstanding game for the Greyhounds, scoring 20 points and hitting for four 3-pointers.

Four Rockets scored in double-digits. Manny Anderson put up 19 points and secured for himself a double-double by also retrieving 10 rebounds. Miller added 15 points, while also tallying 3 steals. Sheldon Steven hit for 15, as well, 9 of them coming on his three buckets from beyond-the-arc. Boatright contributed another 11.

Tech improved to 18-10 overall, and 4-2 in league play, clinching a first-place regular-season finish in the Region 2 Conference. Next, they play their final game of the season, at home, in Shaddock Fieldhouse, Thursday (2/28), against Region 2 Conference member, National Park College. The Nighthawks are 0-5 in league play, and lost their first matchup with Tech back on January 17th, 95-88, in what is also their inaugural year of NJCAA basketball. This will be the season finale for both teams. Tip-off is set for 7 pm.

female basketball players

The Rockets and Pioneers Meet Again

By Joel Gray

Harrison, AR—SAU Tech traveled to North Arkansas on Saturday (2/16) for a much-anticipated rematch with the Pioneers, after falling to them at home just fifteen days earlier when the Lady Rockets lost a hard-fought, back-and-forth game with the #6 Lady Pioneers, 64-58, and the Rocket Men came up short to the NorthArk men in an even closer contest, 97-95.

The second time around was just as intense as the first, as these squads of the Region 2 Conference’s finest fell right into step where they’d left off in their first meetings. The women’s game was almost a replay of the showdown in Shaddock Fieldhouse, and the #6 NorthArk women pulled it out once again in the Pioneer Pavilion, 76-67. The men, too, seemed destined to repeat themselves, going into halftime tied up on the scoreboard just as they had in Camden, but the Rockets roared out of the locker room and reversed the previous outcome, this time getting the victory, 113-101.

The night’s first game featured the Lady Rockets trailing by 3 points at the end of the 1st quarter, 16-13, but fighting back for a 2-point lead at intermission, 36-34. In the 3rd quarter, the teams played almost even, ending with the Tech women still holding onto a narrow 1-point advantage, 53-52. But in the final period, the #6 Lady Pioneers outscored the Rockets, 24-14, to set the 9-point difference in their favor.

NorthArk improved to 21-5 overall, and—more importantly—4-0 in Region 2 play, removing any doubt that they are the justified champions of the conference despite being the only team eligible for the title. Three Lady Pioneers put double-digits on the scoreboard, with Grace Coates topping her teammates with a total of 23.

SAU Tech fell to 10-6 overall, and 1-2 in league play, while placing three scorers in double- digits. Brandashia Hargraves led the way with 22 points, of which 12 came from beyond the arc as she sank four 3-pointers. Alex Parris was next with 17, followed by Haggar Caldwell with 12.

The Lady Rockets will close out their first season of basketball by hosting the final Region 2 game for themselves and the National Park Lady Nighthawks, at Shaddock Fieldhouse in Camden, AR, on Thursday, 2/28. Tip-off is set for 5 pm.

After the women’s game, the men took to the floor of Pioneer Pavilion, and it seemed at first that NorthArk would run away and win easily this time, as they jumped out to a 20-point lead, 32-12, within the first ten minutes of the 1st half. But the Rockets regrouped, and by halftime they had drawn even for a tie, 42-42. Then, after the break, the Tech men blasted the boards on the strength of the 2nd half play of Malik Miller, Jaland Mitchell, and Mike Boatright, who helped their team to outscore NorthArk 71-59 the rest of the way.

The Pioneers dropped to 19-10 and 3-3, despite having four players with double-digits, and three with multiple 3-pointers. Not even the outstanding play of Garrett Kesterson, who led his team with 28 points, including an impressive 7 treys, could keep NorthArk from coming up 12 points short of the Rockets.

With the terrific win, SAU Tech improved to 17-9 overall, and 3-1 in the R2C. Four Rockets racked-up 10 points or more, led by Miller’s 29—21 of which came in the 2nd half. Sheldon Steven was next with 25, including five 3-pointers. Then it was Mitchell (19—15 in the 2nd half), followed by Boatright (16—10 in the 2nd half). Miller and Boatright also had 2-treys each.

The SAU Tech men next travel to Poplar Bluff, MO for a non-conference rematch with Division-I Three Rivers College, on Tuesday, 2/19. Tip-off is at 7 pm.

men playing basketball

Arkansas Baptist Buffaloes Suffer Take Down by the Rockets

By Joel Gray

Camden, AR—SAU Tech’s women and men took to the hardwood of Shaddock Fieldhouse on Saturday (2/9) for their non-conference return games with the Division-I Arkansas Baptist College Buffaloes. Earlier in the season, both Rockets squads had picked up wins against ABC—on the road, in Little Rock. On that January day, the Lady Rockets had dominated the Lady Buffaloes doubling-up on them, 54-27, while the Rocket men had prevailed by 8 points, beating Arkansas Baptist’s men by the score of 71-63.

The rematches were near-mirror-images of the original outings as SAU Tech’s women doubled down on the their defeat of the Lady Buffaloes, blasting them again—this time 74-36. Afterward, the men’s teams squared-off for their turn—in a much more evenly-matched contest—and once again, the Rockets slipped by the Buffaloes in a close one, winning 86-80.

In the women’s game, Tech leapt to an early lead, outscoring ABC 18-5 in the first quarter, then 20-8 in the second, for a halftime lead of 38-13. The Lady Buffaloes played a little closer after intermission, but were outscored 17-13, and 19-10 in the final two stanzas respectively. The 74-36 victory improved SAU Tech’s women to 10-5 in their first season of basketball, with all but one of those wins, coming against Division-I junior colleges.

The Lady Buffaloes only had one player in double-digits—Charnita Williams, with 10—while the lady Rockets had four in that category, led by Brandashia Hargraves with 18, including two 3- pointers. Following her was Haggar Caldwell (13 points, including two 3s), and Devena Smith and Jakhiyah Boston, both of whom had 12 points each.

The more competitive men’s game saw the Rockets reach the half with a 13-point lead, 44-31, but the Buffaloes battled back, outscoring Tech in the second half by 7 points, 49-42, but that tally wasn’t enough to eclipse the Rockets’ early advantage.

Arkansas Baptist had two men to score in double-digits, Carl Smith and Devonta Harkless. both with 19. LaDarin Ceazer also hit for 3 treys.

For the Rockets, four scored ten or more. Jaland Mitchell led the way with 21, followed by Will Bynum (18), Manny Anderson (16), and Cam Akins (15).

The Tech men improved to 16-9 with the win.

Next up for the Rockets squads is the rematch with Region 2 Conference member North Arkansas, on Saturday, 2/16, in Harrison, AR. Both Tech teams fell in their first matchups with the Pioneers, and look to even the series this time around. The Lady Pioneers are currently ranked #6 in the nation, and have already clinched the conference title. Tip-off is set for 2 pm.

women basketball team and coach

Lady Rockets Bravely Face the Challenge

By Joel Gray

Camden, AR—Coach Andre Williams’ first-year 9-4 Lady Rockets faced their most important challenge of the season on Friday (2/1), and they ennobled themselves in the eyes of all onlookers by going toe-to-toe, for four full quarters, with the #6 team in the nation, the 17-4 North Arkansas College Lady Pioneers, falling just short of the upset, 64-58.

The drama of this Region 2 Conference contest essentially involved emotion—the very best element of college athletics.

The North Arkansas Lady Pioneers were already the league champions by virtue of default. SAU Tech and National Park are ineligible for the title in their first season of NJCAA play, and the remaining conference member, ASU-MidSouth, canceled their conference schedule due to injuries. Nevertheless, the powerful Pioneers have pounded opponents all season long, climbing as high as #5 in the national poll along the way, while playing nearly twice the number of games as Tech. It is just a fact that “saving face” enters one’s mind when that is arguably all that one has to lose.

The Lady Rockets, playing in their inaugural season, had begun 5-0 against Division-I competition, exceeding all expectations, and now had an opportunity to, not only knock off a top-ten team, but to sit atop the Region 2 standings, undefeated in league play, and in sole possession of first place, while the “champions” looked up at them from below.

Even though it could not alter the official outcome of the conference championship, there was every reason to play as if it did.

There were ominous overtones at the outset, however, as the matter of a uniform mix-up (Tech had taken their road blues to Shaddock Fieldhouse) and a slight delay in supplying information to the scorer’s table cost the Lady Rockets two technical fouls. The Lady Rockets were down 2-0 even before the opening tip-off. Then the 1st quarter would reach nearly the mid-way mark before they found the bucket, scoring their first points at the 5:14 mark of the opening period. Nevertheless, the much taller and—seemingly—faster Pioneer women had only managed a meager eight points themselves by this point. Both squads had struggled with early shooting, perhaps an indication that all involved knew the magnitude of the moment and had yet to settle into it. The sputtering continued to the end of the period, and Tech only trailed by three, 15-12.

The teams gathered themselves for the second quarter and shooting improved for both sides. The Lady Rockets drew even for the first time at the 8:25 mark, and jumped ahead for their first lead less than two minutes later, with 7:04 to go before halftime. It was short-lived success, however, as the Pioneers powered back to put themselves ahead at the the half, 40-34.

The third period saw SAU Tech close the gap, tying the game again at the 9-minute mark, and slipping ahead once more with 8:20 to go. Nevertheless, less than a minute later, the Lady Pioneers had knotted it up at 43-43, and for the next 7:38 they inched forward for the four-point advantage at the end of the quarter, leading now 50-46.

The Lady Rockets would never again regain the lead, but the final stanza saw the two Region 2 teams play toe-to-toe with a determination usually associated with much higher stakes than a mere moral victory or a saving of face. NorthArk only outscored the Tech women 14-12 in the final period, but it was enough to give them the six-point win.

The #6 Lady Pioneers improved to 18-4 on the season, 2-0 in the conference. They only had two players in double-digits, with Grace Coates leading the way with 16 points. Notably, they did not sink a single 3-pointer.

Tech fell to 9-5 overall, 1-1 in the league, and 2nd-place in the Region 2 standings. Three Rockets racked-up double-digits. The nation’s leading 3-point percentage shooter, Brandashia Hargraves, did not connect from outside the arc on this night, but led her squad in scoring, nevertheless, with 17 points. Jakhiya Boston was next, with 15; followed by Haggar Caldwell, with 10.

The 64-58 victory helped to justify the Lady Pioneers’ conference-champion status, and settle them alone at the top of the league standings. For SAU Tech, it was a very tough loss, but the level of play—the determined effort to overcome early adversity, come from behind, take the lead, and stand face-to-face with a consistent contender for not just a conference title, but a national championship as well—sent a clear signal to all future opponents: The Rockets must be reckoned with.

Only 15 days from the final buzzer of this first fierce contest, the rematch is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. The Lady Rockets will host a non-conference rematch with Division-I Arkansas Baptist at Shaddock Fieldhouse, on Saturday, Feb. 9. Tech got the win the first time around, 54-27.

men playing basketball

Rockets Have Everything to Play For in Their Biggest Games Yet

by Joel Gray

On Friday night, Feb. 1, the SAU Tech Rockets will host their most important basketball games of the 2018-19 season, so far, when the North Arkansas College Pioneers come to Camden for the first-ever Region 2 Conference contest between the two schools.

The Lady Pioneers finished last season as the #8 team in the nation. This year they have a record of 17-4 and are currently the #6 team in the NJCAA Division-II Top Twenty Poll. The Lady Rockets are competing in only their first season on the court, but–amazingly–stand at 9-4, and feature the nation’s top 3-point-percentage player in Brandashia Hargraves, who is accurate from beyond the arc 58.3% of the time. Both squads are 1-0 in Region 2 play, meaning the winner will stand all alone at the top of the conference standings. NorthArk’s women have almost twice the number of victories that Tech’s ladies have accumulated, however, between these two Division-II schools, the Lady Pioneers have played a schedule laden with Junior Varsity opponents, with only 8 of their 21 games played, thus far, against Division-I teams. They are 6-2 versus those D-I opponents. Meanwhile, SAU Tech has faced–exclusively–Division-I competition, (except for their lone conference game against D-II National Park College), and the Rockets are 8-4 in those games.

There is a catch. North Arkansas College has already clinched the Region 2 Conference title with ASU-MidSouth’s Lady Greyhounds withdrawing, due to injuries, for the remainder of the season. The Rockets and the NPC Nighthawks—the only other conference members–are each serving mandatory probationary periods as first-year start-up programs and are ineligible to claim a conference championship or to play in the post-season.

So the Lady Pioneers are Region 2 “Champions-by-Default,” but naturally would like to justify themselves on the court. The Lady Rockets, on the other hand, have a chance to prove themselves to be just as good as this consistent contender for the national championship, while also foreshadowing what is surely to be a highly-competitive future.

As for the Rocket and Pioneer men’s teams, neither are currently nationally-ranked, but SAU Tech sits atop the Region 2 standings as the only team that is undefeated in conference play, while also sporting several players at the top of the Region 2 stats leaderboard. The Pioneers, however, can create—at least temporarily–a 3-way tie for first place by defeating the Rockets. That could then set the stage for them to overcome an earlier defeat by the MidSouth Greyhounds which has currently put them in the third position of the standings.

Again, SAU Tech and National Park College are ineligible, so the actual men’s champion will be either the Pioneers or the Greyhounds. Playing for the future—and bragging rights—is a powerful motivation for a start-up program like the Rockets, who got off to a 4-0 start against brutal competition, and have won 7 of their last 8 games since the Christmas break.

Tip-off for the games is set for 5:00 pm on Friday, Feb. 1, at Shaddock Fieldhouse located at 655 Fairview Road in Camden. General Admission is $5 and children aged 12 and under get in free along with SAU Tech students and staff.

These are the biggest games of the season so far. The Rockets are ready! Are you?

rocket team playing

Rocket Men Take the Win Saturday

by Joel Gray

Camden, AR—In a rare break from brutal scheduling, Head Coach Marty Levinson’s 12-8 SAU Tech men played host to 20-10 Mid-South Prep out of Memphis, TN on Saturday night (1/26), and the results could not have been more welcome for the home team. The Rockets soared to a highly- satisfying victory over the visiting Wildcats, winning by a score of 108-74.

The over-matched Mid-South squad managed to place three players in double-digit scoring, with Tristan Evans’ impressive 30 points topping his teammates. The Wildcats also had three with multiple buckets from beyond the arc. Jaylin Sneed captured that category with 4 treys to his credit.

The contest, however, was completely controlled by Tech throughout, seeing them surpass the century mark on the scoreboard for the second time this season. Four Rockets racked-up double-digits, led by Mike McAllister-Boatright’s 23 points. He was followed by Will Bynum, with 18; Immanuel Anderson, with 17; and Malik Miller, with 12. McAllister-Boatright also sank an amazing 7 3-pointers, while Bynum found the bucket for 4 more.

With the loss, Mid-South dropped to 20-11 on the season, while the Rockets improved to 13-8 with the win. Now it’s back to Division-II play as Tech prepares to host fellow Region 2 Conference member North Arkansas College on Friday, Feb. 1, inside Shaddock Fieldhouse in Camden.

lady rockets

The Promise of the Future

By Joel Gray

The Rockets will be sitting out the 2018-19 post-basketball season as part of the one-year probationary period required for all new entrants into NJCAA athletics. Though SAU Tech’s women’s and men’s teams, as such new entrants, are ineligible for the Region II Conference title, they are not, however, barred from receiving votes from the NJCAA Committee to appear in the D-II National Top 20 Poll.

Tech shares this situation with fellow Region 2 Conference member National Park College, from Hot Springs, AR. The National Park College Nighthawks are also new to NJCAA basketball and therefore find themselves—like the Rockets—limited to a regular-season schedule. So without an opportunity to win a conference or national championship, what are these teams playing for?

The promise of the future.

The Lady Rockets of SAU Tech began this first season with a 5-0 record—all victories over Division-I junior college competition. The Rocket men, similarly, bolted from the gate with a 4-0 start— again, over D-I schools. Then, after the Christmas break, they have gone undefeated on the 2019 side of the schedule, racking up six consecutive victories for their longest winning streak, thus far, as of this writing. Additionally, there are multiple Rocket men at the top of the Region II stats leaderboard, with Brandashia Hargraves of the women’s team, leading the entire nation in 3-point percentage.

The situation, as it currently stands, finds the Rocket men at 12-7 overall and at the top of the Region II Conference standings at 2-0. Nevertheless, North Arkansas College or ASU-MidSouth will be the conference champion. The Lady Rockets are 8-4 overall, and 1-0 in conference play—second in the Region 2 standings. The North Arkansas College Lady Pioneers have already been declared Region II champions because, aside from SAU Tech’s and NPC’s ineligibility, the fourth team in the conference, the ASU-MidSouth Lady Greyhounds, were forced by low numbers and injuries to cancel the second half of their schedule after going 0-10 before the break. That only leaves the North Arkansas College Lady Pioneers to claim the title and advance to the post-season—not that they wouldn’t have anyway, as they currently sit at number 7 in the NJCAA Top 20 national poll after finishing at number 8 last season. The Lady Rockets get their first shot at this 7th best team in the country and Region 2 Conference “champion-by-default” on Friday, Februrary 1, 2019, at home, in Shaddock Fieldhouse, at 655 Fairview Road, Camden, AR. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:00 pm.

There are only five games left for the Lady Rockets. The Rocket men have nine more and that’s it for the season. Three more home games for the women, 5 for the men. Do you really want to miss this beginning? Next season, the Rockets will be playing on campus, in East Camden, inside the College’s Student Center. Most of these outstanding players will return and the conference championship and post-season play will all be on the table. How wonderful it would be for us all to come together and “PackTheShack,”—fill up Shaddock Fieldhouse—for these players and coaches for these final home games. The dates and times for these remaining home games are as follows:

Saturday, 01/26/2019 @ 6:00 pm – Rocket Men Vs. Mid-South Prep

Friday, 02/01/2019 @ 5:00 pm – Rockets vs. North Arkansas College

Monday, 02/04/2019 @ 7:00 pm – Rocket Men vs. On Point Prep

Saturday, 02/09/2019 @ 5:00 pm – Rockets vs. Arkansas Baptist College

Thursday, 02/28/2019 @ 5:00 pm – Rockets vs. National Park College

After this, what is it that the college, the community, the teams, and the fans have to look forward to?