Submitted by Mountain View College
It was the freshman’s first trip out of Texas and he didn’t know what to expect but he knew the team had to win because this underdog team had something to prove.
March Madness is heating up and this young basketball team turned up the heat in New York state last weekend to prove to a hostile crowd that they had what it took to rise up through the ranks to beat conference top ranked Rochester CTC Yellowjackets 72 – 64 last Saturday night in Lock Shedrake, New York to become 2011 NJCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Champions. “This was my first championship win and my very first airplane ride. It was exciting but our team remained focus,” said 19-year old Championship MVP, Marcus Price.
Price, dropped 18 points on the Yellowjackets, including going 2-3 from the free throw line. Eliwasa Baker joined in with 11 points, and added 8 rebounds, while Ashley Crayton also contributed 11 points and 5 rebounds. Baker and Crayton went 3-6 and 5-8 from the line respectively. Bryan Rollins was an asset off the Mountain View bench, scoring 8 and grabbing 3 boards. William Talton had 11 assists in the title game.
Mountain View College is a community college located in southwest Dallas with 8,463 students, a new record high for Fall semester enrollment. Mountain View College is building a name for itself and creating an athletic program that places a premium on academic achievement. “We are building a winning athletic program but more importantly we are building an all academic team collectively averaging a 3.00 or higher GPA,” says Coach LeRoi Phillips.
More and more community colleges are cutting costs due to growing budget woes and decreased funding. Some junior colleges are cutting back on essential student services but Mountain View College is sustaining its academic focus, increasing enrollment and producing graduates. “I have one course to complete this semester to graduate in May with an associates degree in Kinesiology,” shares sophomore William “Gary” Talton.
Athletes are finding the cost of higher education is too expensive for their families to afford and scholarship offers are highly competitive and hard to come by in today’s economy. Community colleges are filling the gap and fulfilling athletes’ desire to play competitive sports and the desire to earn a degree. These athletes are finding a different environment on the community college campus that other competing colleges are not fulfilling. “…our students uphold very high academic standards. We are very proud of our fighting MVC Lions,” said Mountain View College’s President Felix A. Zamora.
Community colleges offer lower per credit hour tuition costs in comparison to NCAA Division I universities and NAIA junior colleges; as well as, smaller classrooms and more personal attention in the classroom. “My professor works with me because he knows I’ll go the extra mile to keep up with my homework even with my busy basketball schedule. I didn’t have the same support at Navarro College,” states Talton.
The National Junior College Athletic Association national championship has a forty-year history. The NJCAA Men’s Division III Basketball Championships consists of eight teams playing over a three-day period (Thursday-Saturday) in March to determine a National Champion. The tournament field is made up of teams that win either region or district championships that are required to earn entry into the tournament.
Mountain View College celebrated its forty-year anniversary in 2010 and celebrated their very first national basketball championship this season. The college continues to strive to remove barriers to equal and quality education despite budget cuts. Coach Phillips stated, “… our goals were to win regional conference, win district championship, and to win the national championship. We accomplished every goal with a young team.”
Eighty-nine percent of the team consisted of freshman spawning from cities like Fort Worth, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia to New Orleans, Louisiana who accepted the challenges and remained as, one player put it, humble and focused on the win and become a force to be reckoned with in New York state. Talton whose favorite coach happens to be Phil Jackson shared, “When the season started all of the team members were new. We had never met one another before but now we are all brothers – a family of winners.”