Men's Club Basketball Clinches First Regional Title
On February 9, 2014, JMU’s Men’s Club Basketball won the NIRSA Regional Basketball Championship for the first time in the club’s existence.
It was a victorious weekend long in the making, as the team has been building strength for several years in order to reach this point. The club had been close to attaining a regional title in years past, but the character and drive of this year’s team proved to be something special.
Club President Chris Sheehy had this to say about his teammates’ will to succeed in regards to previous seasons: “We had come close to winning regional and national tournaments in the past, and I think those losses helped us focus and put in the effort necessary to win this year. We have had good team chemistry this semester and the guys made necessarily individual sacrifices without complaint.”
The journey began on Friday, February 7 at College Park at the University of Maryland. JMU was one of 18 men’s club teams from the area. The Dukes played Stevenson University at 6:30 PM and came out swinging, defeating their opponent by 34 points.
On Saturday, JMU showed remarkable resilience as the club was able to come from behind and pull off a victory against St. John's University by a margin of 3 points in bracket play. After the comeback win, JMU advanced into single elimination, where the Dukes defeated Loyola and Drexel. JMU came out slow during the quarterfinal game against Drexel, which kept the game close in the first half, but the Dukes were able to increase the tempo and edge out a victory by a margin of 14 points in the second.
The semi-final game was held Sunday morning and JMU took on UMBC, a strong team that gave the Dukes a tough match. After a closely contested first half, JMU was able to blow the game open and help themselves to a 15-point winning margin, which sent them into the finals.
Having advanced all the way to the Sunday afternoon championship game, JMU was ready to take home the trophy. Their opponent was St. Johns, a team they had narrowly defeated the day before, who had beaten several other talented clubs on their way to the finals. The game was extremely close throughout both halves, but in the end JMU had pulled ahead by 7 points by the time the whistle blew.
“This victory is good for us because it gives us necessary confidence going into the key part of our season,” said Sheehy. “This one felt like getting the elephant off our backs and was much needed recognition for the work we put in.” The team also noted that it was extremely helpful to have the support of parents and JMU club basketball alumni in attendance during the competition.
In anticipation of the national tournament, which will be held in April at NC State University, the club plans to keep drilling and working on skills that can help them make a run at another title. JMU will host a tournament in late March and plans to go to other competitions before Nationals.