Regional championship squad will graduate ‘character’
When asked how he felt about his team’s third place finish at the NJCAA Division II National tournament, Kirkwood Community College Men’s Basketball Coach Doug Wagemester said, “I was extremely proud of them. We had a less than par half and it cost us. They made a run and we didn’t match it.”
The run Wagemester is referring to was made by Mott Community College in the Eagle’s semi-final game. This run ended the Eagle’s hopes of a national title. The Eagles ended up losing 71-58. The men then bounced back and defeated Danville the next day, 87-73 to earn third place.
The semi-final loss hurt but according to Wagemester, losing the sophomores will hurt more. “These sophomores are going to make a lot of coaches around the nation happy next year,” Wagemester said. “We are losing our core. The points will be there next year but we’re losing the character of our team.”
The Eagles are losing sophomore Ali Farokhmanesh, who averaged 16.2 points per game and was named the region MVP. He was named to the first team All-Region squad. Farokhmanesh will play at the University of Northern Iowa.
Sophomores Corey Viet and DaRell Crittendon made the second team all-region squad. Honorable mention went to three other sophomores Matt Banzhaf, Bryant Kucera and Jermain Davis.
Despite the tough end to the season, the Eagles had a record season, being placed in the top 10 in the NJCAA Division II national polls and ending with a 29-3 record. The Eagles started out the season hot. “I thought our guys were consistent in their work effort,” Wagemester said. “They worked hard and had early success that they could feed on.”
Qualifying for nationals this year felt even better for the Eagles after a year absence due to a regional final upset at the hands of DMACC in 2007. “Losing last year was a low point for this program but it was a great motivator,” Wagemester said. “It was one in a collection of experiences that we could build on. It felt good to get over the hump this year.”