Make room for another championship banner at Rock Valley College. The RVC men’s basketball team is NJCAA champions after defeating Caldwell Community College from Hudson, North Carolina, in the NJCAA Division III national championship game by a final score of 79-69.
In his first season as head men’s basketball coach at Rock Valley College last year, Craig Doty led his team to its first appearance in the NJCAA tournament in over a decade and to a seventh place finish. But it was obvious to anyone who spoke to him in the off-season that he was not satisfied. In Doty’s mind, that was just the beginning.
His sights were set on a national championship.
Last Saturday night, in Loch Sheldrake, New York, Doty and his team earned every bit of that national title.
The Golden Eagles started slow and it was obvious early that if they were going to be national champions they were going to earn it over an aggressive, athletic Caldwell team.
RVC trailed by as much as 13 in the first half, but managed to cut the lead to five with under a minute to play before a crushing three-point shot by Caldwell at the halftime buzzer gave them a 32-24 lead over RVC.
The second half belonged to Rock Valley College. Once they took a lead the momentum started to turn in RVC’s favor. They built as much as 10 point lead in the second half and were able to hang on for the victory with some clutch shooting from LT Davis. Davis buried a huge three-point shot with just over 30 seconds to play and RVC clinging to just a three-point lead. A string of Golden Eagles went to the free throw line late to seal the win.
The Golden Eagles already came into the NJCAA tournament with a program single-season best 27 wins, but they were not content to let that be their crowning achievement for the season.
It didn’t take long for RVC to guarantee a better finish at the NJCAA tournament than they had last season. An 83-72 win on Thursday night over Nassau Community College meant the lowest they could finish would be fourth place.
But they didn’t stop there. On Friday night the Golden Eagles knocked off the defending national champion Brookdale Jersey Blue by a stunning final score of 80-59 behind 27 points from Jared Mayes and 20 from LT Davis, the former Jefferson High School duo.
The national championship is the first in program history for RVC men’s basketball and it was accomplished in only their third appearance at the NJCAA tournament in school history.
This marked the second straight season that Rock Valley College saw both the men’s and women’s basketball teams reach the NJCAA tournament and the first time that both teams played in the championship game in the same season.
–News Bulletin news sources