BY JOHN DUBOIS
The rich 65-year history of men’s basketball at Danville Area Community College has included a national championship, nine total appearances in the national tournament, and now it includes a new record for most wins in a season.
The No. 5-ranked Jaguars made history Saturday at the Mary Miller Gymnasium with an 82-65 win over the Lincoln Land Loggers, which improved their record to 26-3 overall.
It was the 15th consecutive win for Jaguars, which breaks the all-time team record for wins set in 1971-72 and again in 1999-00 and ties the team record for consecutive wins also set in 1971-72.
Adding even more to the win, the Jaguars move to 9-0 in Midwest Athletic Conference play and clinch the MWAC title for the second consecutive year on sophomore day.
A lot of good teams have come through DACC over the years,” said DACC coach Mike Carpenter. “It’s a truly remarkable achievement what our guys have accomplished so far this season and all the credit goes to them.
“They play for each other, and this team has jelled together as well as any I’ve seen in 19 years of coaching. The guys care about each other, they have no egos, and they make being their coach very easy. I’m happy for our guys. We haven’t been playing to break records or to see how high we can be ranked. Those things will take care of themselves when you play good basketball.”
Sophomore guards Evan Blackmon, Derek Shouse, and Chris Whitehead led the way offensively with Blackmon scoring a game-high 19 points, Shouse adding 17 points, and Whitehead 15 points.
“We accomplished one of our goals today, but we have a lot left to accomplish,” Blackmon said. “We won’t be satisfied till we bring this season all the way home. It feels good to get the 26th win with all the history at DACC. We are focused on staying humble and hungry.”
The Jaguars other six sophomores are David Hicks, Andrew Mitchell, Mike Ryce, Bobby Blackwell, Kody Tucker, and Cody Owen.
“I was really proud of how our guys responded in the second half of the game today and that had a lot to do with our sophomore leadership,” Carpenter said. “This group will really be missed.”
The Loggers are winless in MWAC, play but gave the Jaguars all they wanted early on and led 19-12 with eight minutes to go in the first half. A basket by Whitehead would tie the score at 24-24 four minutes later and a buzzer beater from Whitehead would the Jaguars into halftime with a 35-30 lead.
“They had nothing to lose coming into the game and took the fight to us early,” Carpenter said. “Easy baskets are a big part of our game and we only had four points off of easy baskets in the first half.
“The Jaguars would control the first five minutes of the second half going on a 15-4 run, which pushed the lead to 50-34.
“They run a lot of plays on offense and you can’t let down on defense,” Blackmon said. “We executed on defense in the second half and got the job done. We always work hard in practice on defense, and know if we go 100 percent on defense and box out that we will create opportunities on offense to push the ball and get to the rack.”
The fast second half start continues a trend for the Jaguars.
“We have done that the last four games,” Carpenter said. “For whatever reason it happens, we will take it. Our pressure and our traps forced them to take more shots than they normally would. We got 20 points off of easy baskets in the second half, which is more what we like to see.”
The lead would reach a high of 21 points, with Owen scoring the final points for the Jaguars on a three. Former Bismarck-Henning standout and Commercial-News Player of the Year Tanner Ribbe had four points for the Loggers.
The Jaguars finish the regular season next Saturday at John Wood and have a chance to make some more history.
“No one has gone undefeated in conference play in the 15-year history of the MWAC and we have a chance at that next week,” Carpenter said. “Former coach Jim Heeren was still a part of DACC when I made my original visit as a player. He was very supportive as to why I should come to DACC and I know he is looking down and smiling tonight. We have had different guys step up all season and have five guys who average in double figures. That is among the biggest reasons why we have been successful this season.”