Cecil College men's basketball finished third out of sixteen teams that qualified for the NJCAA DII National Tournament, hosted by Danville Area Community College, in Danville, Illinois. The Seahawks upset the #3, #11, and #4-seeded teams to finished their season with an overall record of 24-12.
The Seahawks entered the NJCAA DII National Tournament as the #14 seed, out of sixteen teams that qualified for the tournament. After an 11-hour drive from North East, Maryland the Seahawks were matched up against the third-ranked Aztecs of Pima Community College on Tuesday, March 19. In the opening four minutes of action, the Seahawks went on an 11-2 run with three-pointers made by Shylier Ringgold and two by Jacob Falko, followed by another jumper from Ringgold. The Aztecs would battle back and would trade leads a few times before freshman forward George Davey sunk a jumper to give the Seahawks a 31-29 lead at half.
The Seahawks trailed by as many as seven before making a comeback and taking the lead with two made field goals form Hassan Corbin. The Seahawks pulled away in the remaining minutes of the game with made free throws, after the Aztecs were forced to foul, and advanced to the second round of the tournament with an 82-71 upset victory. Jacob Falko led in scoring with 25 points, followed by a double-double in points and rebounds from Cornell Corbin. Sophomore forward Shylier Ringgold added 14 points and seven rebounds, followed by Hassan Corbin and Darrell Johnson with 9 points each.
After a day of rest, Cecil College took on the Blazers of John Wood Community College, who entered the tournament as the 11th seed. In a back-and-forth battle, the Seahawks and Blazers traded countless ties and lead changes throughout the contest. Either team would lead by no more than seven in the 40 minutes of action.
The Seahawks led by five at the half after a made three-pointer from Montaze Jefferson with under a minute until the break, a forced turnover by the Seahawks' defense on the Blazers' next possession, and a made basket at the buzzer by Jacob Falko. But, the Blazers would eventually tie the game and take the lead with 9:21 left to play.
Trailing by two at the 1:23 mark, Falko finds the ball in his hands and ties the game 86-86 with a made lay-up. The Blazers' are awarded two free throws during the next possession and take the lead by two, but Falko once again drives to the basket and converts an and-one for a three point play and a 1-point lead with 0:17 on the clock. Darell Johnson grabbed the rebound of a missed Blazers' shot and outlets to Falko, who is fouled and make one of two double-bonus free throws to secure the 90-88 second round victory.
Falko led in scoring for the second game in a row with 26 points, three assists, and two steals followed by Darell Johnson with 19 points, seven rebounds, and one block on the day. Hassan Corbin added 11 points and 9 rebounds in the win over John Wood Community College to advance to the semi-finals of the national tournament.
After upsetting the #3 and #11 seeded teams, and only four teams left in the winners bracket, the Seahawks faced the #2-seeded Johnson County Community College Cavaliers. In a similar fashion to John Wood, the Seahawks and Cavaliers battled for a convincing lead but neither would find one in regulation. The two teams were tied 68-68 as time expired.
With the opportunity to win the game in regulation, Cornell Corbin drove to the basket but a block by the Cavaliers defense forced an overtime period in the semi-final match up. Falko was the first to put the Seahawks on the scoreboard in OT at the 4:38 mark but the Cavaliers answered back just 16 seconds later.
Eventually, the Seahawks trailed by 4 with 0:20 left in OT and Shylier Ringgold converted two foul shots to cut the Cavaliers' lead to two. Forced to foul, the Seahawks sent the Cavailiers to the free throw line where they miss one of two shots to go ahead 81-78 with 13 seconds left.
With hopes of tying the game, Jacob Falko attempted a missed three-point shot that landed in the hands of McKale Williams who also attempted a shot from beyond the arc, which did not fall in the favor of the Seahawks. Freshman guard McKale Williams went 3-4 from three earlier in the game and finished with a team-high 22 points. Starters Falko, C. Corbin, and Ringgold had a combined 41 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.
With the overtime loss to #2-seeded Johnson County Community College, the Seahawks played the following day against #4-seeded Erie Community College for third or fourth place in the tournament. Cecil College led by as many as 23 points in the consolation match and convincingly took third place with a 82-70 win over the Kats.
After being crowned with a trophy and national tournament ball for their 3rd place finish in the NJCAA DII National Tournament, Jacob Falko was recognized as an All-Tournament Team selection and Cornell Corbin was given the Tournament Sportsmanship Award.