The Gateway Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams have started their seasons strong. Nearing the season’s mid-point, the Men’s team is first in the West Conference and third in Division III. The women are third in the West Conference and fifth in Division III.
Back on October 31 at the GCC Pep Rally, John Stewart, GCC athletic director and head coach of the men’s basketball team, told the crowd his squad aimed to win the region and play in the national tournament. After both teams beat Springfield Tech in a home double-header Tuesday, Stewart said they are “right where we expected to be.”
“We’ve got a big game coming up; a doubleheader at Quinsigamond on December 15 and that will be a tough one for us. If we can pull that off, that will leave us in first place in the conference going into the second half of the season,” Coach Stewart said. “The women are doing extremely well and they look like they will be able to make the regionals if they stay on this course. We’re very excited about both teams.”
With All-American Jerome Parkins back at forward and Nate Campbell at guard, Stewart said the team is a force to be reckoned with. The 6’2” forward was a pre-season 1st Team All-American. Last season, Parkins was named 2nd Team All-American and 1st Team All-New England, averaging 22 points and 12 rebounds a game. Campbell was a preseason 2nd Team All-American.
In recent play, GCC beat UConn-Avery Point 84-71 with Parkins scoring 20 points and Hashem Roberson scoring 19 and Campbell, 12. In a 86-55 win over Springfield Tech, Roberson had 21 points and 9 rebounds, Parkins scored 18 and had 8 rebounds. The men are now 5-1.
“Our new guys look good too,” Stewart said, particularly Diontay Washington and Theodore Holmes III.
The Lions finished their season last year at 15-7 and made the regional tournament for the seventh year in a row. The program has advanced to three regional finals and to the nationals in 2006. Stewart was again named Coach of the Year for the 2011-2012 season by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). Assistant Coaches are Allen Gales and John Austin.
Lady Lions Coach Carrie Cole said her squad holds great promise and they plan to be playing in the regional tournament at the season’s end. They are currently 3-2.
“This year we are going to make our mark,” Cole said. “My players make me hopeful. They are playing well together. They are going to do well and make everyone proud at Gateway.”
The GCC women lost to UConn-Avery Point 57-46 but got strong play from Quanisha Solomon (19 points) and Jamie Baker (13 points). The women rebounded to beat Springfield Tech, 61-38. Baker had 20 points and 9 rebounds; Solomon scored 18 and had five assists.
The team also includes Alaina Holloman, a 5’11” center, her sister Arianna Holloman, a 5’4” forward, Kaylah Gore, Tatiana Stephens-Collins, Shanteele Mack, Ashley Ortiz, Quaynesha Flowers and Hayley Torres.
Fans are hoping for a repeat of 2006 when both the men’s and women’s teams won the regionals and went to the national tournament. The teams play December 15 at the Wexler-Grant Community School, 55 Foote Street, New Haven. Stewart encouraged GCC students, faculty and staff to come out to support the teams.