Bruins top basketball rankings
Feb 09, 2017 03:01PM
● By Bryan Scott
The SLCC women have been ranked as high as eighth in the country this season. (Steve Specimen)
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By Greg James | email@example.com
The men's and women's basketball teams at Salt Lake Community College breezed through their preseason games and have now settled in to face their Region 18 rivals.
The Bruins started the 2016–17 season just like they finished last year, on top. The defending National Junior College Athletic Association champions began the season winning 11 straight games.
They began play in the Scenic West Athletic Conference by splitting a two-game road trip. They beat USU-Eastern 73-72 and lost to Snow 83-80. They trailed at halftime in both games. They then traveled to Colorado Northwestern and defeated them 75-72 in overtime.
Isaiah White, a 6-foot-7 freshman, leads the team in scoring. He averages 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Christian Gray has scored in double figures in 12 of the Bruins first 16 games.
Head coach Todd Phillips enters his sixth season at the helm of the Bruins. He led the team to a 31-8 overall record last season and was named NJCAA coach of the year.
The women's team finds itself ranked eighth in the country with a 16-2 overall record. The women lost their only two games in the preseason against Odessa College, 59-49, and New Mexico Junior College, 74-63.
They are undefeated in SWAC play, winning the three games by an average of 30 points apiece.
“I feel pretty good about this team,” Bruins head coach Betsy Specketer said. “They have bought into what we are teaching them, and we are a hard team to match up against. I think we have a lot of weapons. Bruins head coach Betsy Specketer said. I like our chances and it is our goal to win a championship.”
Freshman Tia Hay, from Melbourne, Australia, is the team's leading scorer. She averages 19.8 points per game. She had a season-high 32 points against Chemeketa Community College Dec. 3 and is the ninth-leading scorer in the country.
“Tia is sneaky quick and she scores quiet points,” Specketer said. “She will fill up the stat sheet before you realize what she has done. She can finish well at the rim and shoot the three. She is a real dual threat.”
Hay came to SLCC via Colorado State. And has found a team that she likes playing for.
“I am glad I came here,” Hay said, admitting that being from Australia she has had to adjust to a different culture... “I like all of the girls and am learning to play a new position. Everyone always asks if I have a pet kangaroo, so yeah I guess I do.”
The Bruins have averaged 72.1 points per game, but more impressive their defense has been solid. Their opponents are shooting only 31 percent from the field and 27 percent from behind the three-point line.
“This is close to home, and I have always loved coach Betsy (Specketer),” Freshman Rian Rawlings said. “This year has been really exciting so far. I know we have what it takes to advance far.”
Specketer enters her 21st season as the Bruins head coach. They are coming off one of the best seasons ever. The ended their season ranked third in the country after falling in the elite eight of the NJCAA national championship.
“We will need some luck to fall our way, and we need to stay healthy,” Specketer said. “I have seen the men win two championships, and I know it is attainable. Our goal is March (when the National Junior College Tournament will be held), and I think we have the ingredients to compete for that championship.”
The Region 18 men's and women's tournaments will be held at the Lifetime Activities Center on the Taylorsville campus of the Salt Lake Community College March 2–4.
The women's final four is scheduled for March 20 in Lubbock, Texas. The men's championship is scheduled to be held in Hutchinson, Kansas.