Tag: SAU Tech Rockets

young woman basketball player

SAU Tech Rocket Roundup a Succesful Season

By Joel Gray

It is done. The squeaking of rubber soles upon waxed hardwood has waned. There is no swishing of the net, no ringing of the rim. The officials’ whistles are silent. And the cross-court cries of the coaches are but mere echoes in empty arenas, where the bounding of the ball no longer reverberates. The 2018-19 inaugural season of SAU Tech Rockets basketball has concluded in Camden, Arkansas.

And what has been accomplished?

The short answer is: More than could ever have been imagined.

For most people, that is. But, for SAU Tech Chancellor, Jason Morrison, it was the fulfillment of his vision. It was he who believed that bringing athletics back to this tiny junior college would immediately have a positive impact upon the student body and the community—and not just in terms of creating school spirit with extra-curricular activities. No, he saw as a certainty what so many others held only as a hope. Chancellor Morrison saw success. Success in the Rockets’ first season of NJCAA Division-II play.

And success is exactly what was achieved. How successful were they?

Coach Andre Williams’ Lady Rockets roared out to a 5-0 start—all five victories coming against Division-I junior college competition. They would go on to finish 11-6 overall, and 2-2 in the Region 2 Conference, taking 2nd place in the final regular-season standings. NJCAA bylaws require new athletic programs to sit-out a one-year probationary period in which they are ineligible for a conference title or post-season play; therefore, SAU Tech’s women could not play a conference championship game against North Arkansas College, the only D-II opponent who had been able to defeat them in the regular-season. Incidentally, at the time that NorthArk had managed their two conference victories over the Lady Rockets, the Lady Pioneers had been ranked #6 in the nation.

Individually, Devena Smith (Fresh, Baton Rouge, LA) completed the regular-season, leading the Region 2 Conference in Points-Per-Game (16.6), as well as in Field-Goal-Percentage (59.4). Meanwhile, her teammate Brandashia Hargraves (Soph, Monticello) spent several weeks as the national leader in 3-Point-Percentage shooting, finally settling into the #2 spot at the end of the regular- season with a stat of 50%. That was still good enough, however, to allow her to finish in 1st place in that category in the Region 2 Conference.

A great year for the women’s team, as well as individual players.

For Coach Marty Levinson’s Rocket men it was much the same story. They bolted out to a 4-0 start, and—like the women—those wins came against Division-I opponents. The men would play almost twice as many games as their female counterparts, though, and suffered a brutal five-game stretch of losses to close out the 2018 portion of the schedule. After the Christmas break, however, the Rockets bounced back in a big way, winning six straight to open 2019. Their maturity on the court could be seen, as evidenced by their having overcome an early tendency to give up big leads, now actually coming from behind from big deficits. They would go on to finish 19-10 overall, with an impressive 5-1 record in the Region 2 Conference. They completed the regular-season in 1st place of the conference standings, but—again, like the women—weren’t eligible for the title or post-season play. SAU Tech had to take comfort in the knowledge that the eventual Region 2 Champion, ASU-MidSouth,

finished with two conference losses, and both of them came in their games against the Rockets.

As a team, the Rocket men also finished 4th in the nation in Steals-Per-Game (12.9). Individually, Sheldon Steven (Fresh, Chicago, IL) finished in 1st place of the Region 2

Conference in Points-Per-Game (19.9). Mike Boatright (Soph, Chicago, IL) led the conference in Steals (90), and Jaland Mitchell (Fresh, Chicago, IL)—without even playing in the final two games, due to an injury—was the conference’s leader in Blocks (46).

Like the women, the men also had an incredible year.

And this was not just a local impression; rather, note was taken among the Rockets’ opponents, as well. Particularly so was an impact made within the Region 2 Conference. When the 2018-19 All- Region Teams were announced, the SAU Tech Rockets were well-represented. For the women, Brandashia Hargraves was voted onto the All-Region First Team, while Devena Smith, Jakhiya Boston (Fresh, Little Rock), and TyQuesha Selvy (Fresh, Turrell) were each voted onto the All-Region Second Team. For the men, Sheldon Steven was a First Team pick, while Mike Boatright made the Second Team.

Success at the beginning, success at the end, and continued success after the season was over. Not someday. But now.

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.

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.

text and a rocket image

The Rockets Blast the Nighthawks

By Joel Gray

Hot Springs, AR—The Spa City and the National Park College Nighthawks hosted both the Women’s and Men’s teams from SAU Tech, Thursday (1/17), for a Region 2 Conference “clash on the court,” and the Rockets returned to East Camden with remarkable wins once again. The Ladies prevailed over NPC by the score of 82-56, while the Rocket men notched another victory with a tally of 95-88 over the Nighthawks.

Coach Andre Williams’ 7-4 Lady Rockets took the floor for their first Region 2 Conference game against a 3-7 National Park squad that had already lost their first league game and was, therefore, hungry to have a win. And it didn’t seem far-fetched that they’d get it after Tech’s slow start allowed the Lady Nighthawks a 20-17 lead at the end of the first quarter. But the second period saw a near- complete shutdown of the Nighthawk offense, as the Tech defense only allowed NPC to find the bucket for 4 more points before the half, at which time the Rockets led 32-24.

By the end of the third, the Nighthawks had closed to within only three, trailing Tech 45-42. But in the final period the Lady Rockets ignited for an impressive 37 points, bolstered by the heady play of Jakhiyah Boston, Brandashia Hargraves, and Devena Smith. NPC could only answer with an additional 14 points, fixing the final tally at 82-56 in the Lady Rockets’ favor.

National Park had only two ladies in double-digits, led by Faith Bratton’s 18 points. Hailee Crosby also hit for two 3-pointers. The Lady Nighthawks drop to 3-8 on the season, and 0-2 in the conference.

SAU Tech’s women get a win in their first Region 2 Conference game and improve to 8-4 overall in their first season on the court. In the win over National Park, the Lady Rockets had four players in double-digits, led by Brandashia’s 24. Jakhiyah scored 16, and Devena was close behind with 15, followed by Alex Parris’ 10. Jakhiya and Brandashia also sank three treys apiece.

Next up for the Tech Women is a non-conference rematch, on the road, with the D-I Coahoma Community College Tigers, who have the dubious distinction of being the first victim of Rocket Victory, falling to SAU Tech in their first-ever game, back on Nov. 2, in Shaddock Fieldhouse, by the score of 71-57.

Following the Lady Rockets’ 82-56 win over NPC’s women, Coach Marty Levinson’s 11-7 Rocket men hit the hardwood of The Gym Complex in Hot Springs, (Thurs., 1/17), as the Region 2 leader, having already notched a conference victory against ASU-MidSouth in their first league outing. They also were riding a 5-game winning streak—undefeated since the Christmas break—and looked to continue to add Ws to the win column.

10-1 National Park, however, hoped to have a say in that matter. The Nighthawks had just suffered their first loss of the season, to North Arkansas, which had also made them 0-1 in Region 2 play, so—in a four-team league—some might have seen the need for an NPC victory as a necessity.

By halftime of the contest, the outcome was still highly in question, as both teams had played toe-to-toe, with the Nighthawks nursing a narrow 1-point lead at the break, 43-42. But the second half saw Region 2 Points Leader, Sheldon Steven, light the fuse and explode from long-range, burning the net off the hoop with five FGs from beyond the arc. His teammates were ignited as well, and the Rockets rallied for a 95-88 win.

National Park had four players in double-digit scoring, led by Patrick Greene’s 26. Two Nighthawks managed multiple threes: Greene with 2, and K.J. Corder with 2 also. NPC falls to 10-2 overall, and 0-2 now in conference play.

In their sixth straight win, the Rockets had four in double-digits. Steven led the way with 27,

followed by Jaland Mitchell with 20, Mike McAllister-Boatright with 14, and Will Bynum with 10. Steven had a total of six 3-pointers to his credit on the night, and Bynum added two more treys to the mix.

SAU Tech improves to 12-7 overall, and—more importantly—2-0 in the Region 2 Conference. Next stop for the Rockets will be in Clarksdale, MS for a non-conference rematch with the Coahoma Tigers, a Division-I team that has already suffered a loss to the Rocket men, back on opening night in Shaddock Fieldhouse, when Tech began their first season of basketball with a huge 69-61 victory over the Tigers.

coach and basketball players

Rockets take on Bulldogs with no Success

By Joel Gray

Goodman, MS—The NJCAA DIV.-II SAU-Tech Rockets men’s basketball team surged out to an unlikely 4-game winning streak against DIV.-I competition to start their very first season on the court. Now, however, they are in somewhat of a mid-season slump after losing six of their last eight games— all, but one, of those losses coming on the road, versus D-I opponents—including Saturday’s match-up with the Holmes Community College Bulldogs. No doubt, still stinging from a painful homecoming loss to Copiah-Lincoln—in overtime—Head Coach Marty Levinson and the Rocket men now had to gird themselves to go back out onto the road again, this time to face the D-I Preseason #13 team in the nation.

The Bulldogs came in with a record of 5-2, with their only two missteps being by a combined margin of a mere 10 points. They were at home in the Frank Branch Coliseum, and certainly mindful that this would be their last outing before the first regular-season poll comes out on Tues., Dec. 4. Surely, they hoped to perform well enough to not only maintain the #13 spot but to improve upon it as well.

The Rockets, though, had other ideas and set out to force the Bulldogs to earn any advantage they obtained. Initially, it was a fairly even-handed struggle for hardwood supremacy, each team making a long run against the other, and the lead bouncing back and forth between them four different times. By the end of the 1st half, however, the Tech men trailed by ten, 46-36. The 2nd half saw the Bulldogs begin to pull away, and by the final buzzer, the Rockets had lost even more ground on the scoreboard, losing by 21 points to Holmes, 87-66, and upping the Bulldogs’ record to 6-2 on the season.

Holmes had four men to score in the double-digits, with Kassim Nicholson on top with 16. Jaylen Lester also sank two 3-pointers for the Bulldogs. As a team, they snapped up 43 rebounds, had 17 assists, and committed 21 turnovers. Tech recorded three players in the double-digit category. Jaland Mitchell led the way with 26 points—9 of which came on his three field goals from beyond the 3-point arc. Sheldon Steven added 18 more on the strength of his four 3-pointers. And Immanuel Anderson logged 12 points as well.

The Rockets finished with 31 rebounds, 9 assists, and 22 turnovers on the evening. It was the SAU Tech men’s fourth consecutive loss, dropping them to .500 with a 6-6 record, with still five more contests scheduled with Division-I teams before play begins in their own classification this January 2019. Coach Levinson and all Rockets fans are looking for the team to reap the rewards of a ruthless early schedule. Meanwhile, however, it’s back into the breach, as they travel to Shreveport, LA for a re-match with Southern University-Shreveport, Sat., Dec. 8. Tech defeated the Jaguars earlier this season by the score of 90-85, and another close game is expected.

rocket no words

Lady Rockets Face Another Tough Game

by Joel Gray

Goodman, MS—Frank Branch Coliseum welcomed the SAU Tech Rockets, on Saturday, but the results inside the home of the DIV.-I Holmes Community College Bulldogs were unwelcome to the Rockets.

After streaking to an unbelievable 5-0 unbeaten start in this inaugural season of athletics at SAU Tech, a few misfires later, and the Ladies are 5-3, with a 3-game losing streak, after suffering another tough loss to this Holmes squad. The Lady Bulldogs were only 2-5 coming into the match-up, so they, too, were as hungry as the Rockets for a win. But as both teams applied themselves to the same goal of securing success, they went about doing so in almost opposite ways. The Holmes women dominated in the paint, scoring 66 of their points from close range, while Tech attacked from outside, netting 47 points from long range— 21 of those from beyond the 3-point arc.

There were two short runs by the teams: a 10-0 run by the Bulldogs and a 12-0 run by the Lady Rockets. At one point, the Tech women trailed by as many as 16 points but fought back to narrow the margin. Otherwise, the score remained close, and it was anyone’s game. Tech trailed by 6 at the end of the first quarter, and only 4 by the half. Holmes squeaked out to a 7-point lead at the end of the third, and even though the Rockets, again, never quit—once more outscoring their opponent in the final period—they could only close the gap to five, losing by the score of 88-83.

The Lady Bulldogs had five players score in the double-digits, with Janae Collier leading the way with 22. As a team, Holmes recorded 36 rebounds, 14 assists, and 13 turnovers as they improved their record to 3-5 with the win.

The Lady Rockets had four players in double-digits—Jakhiya Boston with 26, Devena Smith with 19, Alex Parris with 12, and Paige Francis with 11. Additionally, Jakhiya was on fire from 3-point range, sinking five treys in total. Tech matched Holmes with 36 rebounds, but only had 9 assists, while committing 23 turnovers.

Although this is the third straight loss for Coach Andre Williams’ Lady Rockets, every single win and loss this Tech team has savored, or suffered, has come against NJCAA Division-I competition, in this, their first-ever NJCAA Division-II basketball season. That’s 5 wins against 3 losses, thus far. D-II divisional play won’t begin for the Rockets until January 2019. Meanwhile, next up, is a rematch with the D-I Southern University-Shreveport Jaguars, on the road once more. The Rockets got the win, at home, back on Nov. 3, by the score of 88-79, and they certainly are capable of a repeat of that performance.

lady rockets

Rockets Experience Tough Homecoming

by Joel Gray

Camden, AR—Shaddock Fieldhouse was the happy site of punch and cake and college memorabilia as SAU Tech celebrated its 50th birthday with a homecoming night of basketball. Their guests from Wesson, MS, however—the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Wolves—showed up to shut down the “feel-good” in the fieldhouse.

The NJCAA Division-II Rockets, in their inaugural season on the court, have battled through a brutal schedule, thus far—all Division-I opponents for the women; and nearly the same for the men. So for homecoming, one might expect to see a Prep team on the schedule, for perhaps an easy win, right? Well, not at SAU Tech. Copiah-Lincoln is another Division-I junior college, and nothing about these homecoming games was going to be easy for the Rockets.

The Lady Wolfpack came in undefeated at 6-0 and wasted no time in proving to the Rockets’ fans why that was so. They were big and strong and fast and asserted themselves from the outset. The Lady Rockets had difficulty rebounding against the Wolves, providing the visitors with multiple opportunities underneath the basket. Also, the quickness of Copiah-Lincoln was quickly realized, but not-so-quickly countered, as they continued to steal and intercept the ball throughout the contest.

The 5-1 Rockets were only trailing by 7 points at the end of the first quarter, but the Wolves stretched that to 18 by the half, then 27 by the end of the third. If there was a bright spot for the Lady Rockets at all, it was that they continued to fight, managing to outscore the Wolfpack in the fourth quarter 25-24. Nevertheless, the outcome was never really in question, and the Copiah-Lincoln ladies improved to 7-0 with the 103-77 victory over Tech.

The Lady Wolves had four players score in double-digits, with TaMara Riley leading the way with 20. They also had three players with multiple 3-pointers—Azaria Magee had three.  The Lady Rockets had three players in double-digits—Devena Smith with 26, Hagger Caldwell with 11, and Alex Parris with 11. Only McKenna Christler could sink from 3-point range, but she only managed to hit twice for 6 points.

It was a tough night for the SAU Tech women, as they suffered their 2nd loss in a row, falling to 5-2 on the season. Next for the Lady Rockets is another Division-I opponent, on the road, Sat., Dec. 1st, when they take on the 2-5 Holmes Community College Bulldogs.

As tilted as the court seemed to be during the women’s game, the balance was restored when the men took the floor. The Copiah-Lincoln men came in at 6-1, having only lost their season-opener, and they, too, proved to be big and strong and fast. The Wolves established early that lobbed passes would be promptly picked-off. But the 6-4 Rockets were ready for the challenge and played their usual style of fast and physical basketball. Immanuel Anderson’s multiple slam-dunks helped to keep the Rocket crowd roaring, and at halftime, Tech had a 1-point lead at 39-38.

The second half saw more of the same. Each team had had short runs of 6-8 points in the game, but now it was toe-to-toe and point-to-point. With the homecoming audience on their feet, it was the Rockets’ Immanuel Anderson with a last-second layup to tie the game at 79 and send it into overtime.In the additional 5 minutes, however, it was a devastating 3-pointer from the Wolves’ Miles Daniels that helped to provide a margin the Rocket men couldn’t overcome, and Copiah-Lincoln held on to get the win by the score of 91-87.

The Wolfpack improved to 7-1 with four players shooting in the double-digits. Damarius Brooks led the way with 16. They also had four with multiple 3-pointers, Miles Daniels leading the way with three—including that crucial one in overtime. The Rockets also had four players score in the double-digits: Immanuel Anderson with 23— including three slam-dunks—Sheldon Steven with 20, Mike McAllister Boatright with 17, and Malik Miller with 16. Only two Rocket men, however, could fire true from 3-point range. Sheldon Steven was accurate for four 3-pointers, and Malik Miller added one more.

It was an outstanding effort, particularly in the second half, where the Rockets had proven to have some trouble in previous games; nevertheless, it goes in the loss column. The Tech men are now 6-5, with all of their losses coming against Division-I teams. It is expected that the brutality of their early schedule will be of great benefit when Division-II divisional play begins in January.

Meanwhile, however, it doesn’t get any easier for the Rockets’ men’s team. Next—Sat., Dec. 1st—they join the Lady Rockets in Goodman, MS to take on the 5-2 Division-I Holmes CC Bulldogs. The only team to have beaten Copiah-Lincoln this season. The #13 team in the nation.