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Owens Express Men's and Women's Basketball Advance to NJCAA National Championship Tournament
Owens Community College men's and women's basketball teams are one step away from being crowned national champions after capturing their respective regional tournament titles this past weekend. As a result of their postseason success, the two basketball programs will now advance to the NJCAA Division II National Championships, Wednesday-Saturday, March 19-22.
The men's and women's basketball championship appearances will mark the second time that both programs have earned national tournament berths in the same year. The Express also accomplished the feat in 1999.
"We are extremely proud of our Owens Express student-athletes and their outstanding success throughout the basketball seasons, both in the classrooms and during intercollegiate athletic competition," said Michael Rickard, Owens Director of Athletics. "Having two athletic programs advancing to the national championships is quite an honor. The success of the two basketball programs is a credit to the work ethic and dedication of our players and coaching staffs, and their commitment to the philosophy of playing unselfish team basketball."
The Express Men's Basketball team will take a 28-4 overall record into the NJCAA Division II National Championship tournament, which will be held at Danville Area Community College in Danville, Illinois. Coached by Jim Welling, the Express will play the winner of the Mott Community College (24-9 Flint, Michigan) - Olive-Harvey Community College (20-12 Chicago, Illinois) game in quarterfinal action at 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 20. If they would advance, Owens will play at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 21. A loss places Owens into the consolation bracket. The Express then would play at 1 p.m. on Friday, March 21. The championship game will occur at 8:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 22.
Men's tournament pairings
Welling's teams have won seven Region XII championships to qualify for the national tournament. They earned NJCAA national championships in 1992 and 1993 and finished as the national runner-up in 1994. The Express captured the regional (District 7) title by defeating Columbus State Community College 72-64 in overtime.
Owens, ranked fourth in the final regular season NJCAA Division II poll, completed their Ohio Community College Athletic Association (OCCAC) regular season in second place with a 12-2 record.
Members of the Express men's basketball team are Andrew Brown of Pontiac, Michigan, guard (Pontiac Central High School); Terrell Brown of Shaker Heights, guard (Shaker Heights High School); Mark Church of Columbus, guard/forward (Westland High School); Marques Fobbs of Toledo, guard (Libbey High School); Justin Freer of St. Joseph, Michigan, guard/forward (Stevensville/Lakeshore High School); Kevin Jones of Toledo, forward (Start High School); Ricardo Lucas of Ann Arbor, Michigan, forward (Home Schooled), and Andrae Martin of Ypsilanti, Michigan, forward (Ann Arbor/Huron High School).
The Owens roster also includes Kevin Shorter of Clinton Township, Michigan, forward (Chippewa Valley High School); Dajuan Tate of Columbus, guard/forward (Columbus East High School); Kevin Thomas of Detroit, Michigan, guard/forward (Romulus High School); JaMar Wesley of Canton (Canton McKinley High School), and Noah Williams of Shaker Heights, guard (Shaker Heights High School).
The Women's Basketball team, coached by Mark Henry, brings a 23-10 overall record into the NJCAA Division II National Championship tournament, which is hosted by Hagerstown Community College in Hagerstown, Maryland. Owens will play Redlands Community College (20-10 El Reno, Oklahoma) in a first round g ame, beginning at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19. A win advances Henry's squad to the quarterfinals where they would play Kirkwood Community College (30-4 Cedar Rapids, Iowa) at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 20. Owens will play at 12 p.m. on Thursday, March 20, in the consolation bracket should they lose to Redlands. The championship game of the national tournament will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 22.
Women's tournament pairings
This marks Owens' third trip to the national championship tournament. The Express' previous appearances included seventh and eighth place finishes in 1998 and 1999 championship competition, respectively. Henry's squad won the regional (District H) championship with 73-70 victory over Wayne County Community College.
Owens women's basketball finished the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) regular season tied for third place (Edison State Community College) with a 9-5 mark. In the final regular season NJCAA Division II poll, the Express were ranked No. 18 in the nation.
Members of the Express women's basketball program are Latoya Cooper of Battle Creek, Michigan, guard (Battle Creek Central High School); Natalie Davis of Payne, guard (Wayne Trace High School); Misti Horton of Toledo, guard (Woodward High School); Sherita Jackson of Toledo (Start High School); Shannon Kubicek of Toledo, forward (Maumee High School), and Joanna Lewandowski of Genoa, center (Genoa High School).
Owens' roster also includes Dannielle Rayle of Ottawa, guard (Pandora-Gilboa High School); Jodelynn Stiriz of Wauseon, guard (Wauseon High School); Catina Stubleski of Lambertville, Michigan, guard (Bedford High School); Michelle Vorst of Ottoville, guard (Ottoville High School); Stacey Weiland of Perrysburg, guard (Eastwood High School); Tonia Willis of Waterville, guard (Anthony Wayne High School), and Laura Wilson of Fremont, guard (Fremont Ross High School).
Owens Community College is the fastest-growing higher educational institution in Northwest Ohio with 24 consecutive semesters of enrollment increases. On the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campuses, Owens serves more than 38,000 credit and non-credit students making it the number one choice for new college students. Owens is committed to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability. Owens Community College offers over 130 program areas in Agriculture, Business, Fine and Performing Arts, Health, Public Service, Skilled Trades, Industrial and Engineering Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor 's degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university.