York College Basketball team received an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Tournament, after beating Number 1 ranked Staten Island and winning their fourth championship in school history.
Before winning the championship, The team started out their run to the playoffs through John Jay. York won a close game against John Jay in their first game of the CUNYAC Tournament. Senior Michael Woods, the leading scorer in CUNY and second in Division III, made 2 of his 11 attempts halfway through the game.
“The win against John Jay was a team effort,” said Jaron Williams who finished the game with 12 points 7 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Coach Ronald St John described the performance as a team victory, but did not do well defensively.
“Michael did not play his game against John Jay but the team got the victory,” said head coach St. John. “Defensively we did not do a good job at stopping John Jay. We can score the ball that’s not a problem.
Junior Omar St. John, York leading scorer for the game finished with 17 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals against John Jay. Woods played better against Lehman College. York started with a fast pace against Lehman and never lift their foot off the pedal.
“After the slow start against John Jay, the guys showed up and played to their potential.” Said St. John. “I did not think that Michael [Woods] played his game against Lehman but for us to win against Staten Island we need all the guys to show up. “Omar stepped up for us in this game and it really showed you that any one of the players can step up for us.”
Woods ended the game with 24 points, but coach St. John said in a radio interview that he did not think woods played his best game. “We were efficient last night against Lehman, but I don’t need everyone taking a three,” said St. John. “I am happy for the players who never experienced going or even playing in the championship game.”
Division III Hoops are showing the attention that the CUNYAC Championship is going to get the game live on ESPN3.
“The goal was to get to the championship game,” said Williams. But know the goal is the win the championship game.”
Williams individual goal was to average double double this season, but knows its about the team more than individual stats.
“I wanted to average a double double but it is not about me. It is about the team and when we beat Staten Island I could still get meet my goal.”
It has been six years since York played in a championship game. Coincidentally they will be playing Staten Island who York defeated with a buzzer beater half court shot.
“I am really happy for the guys,” said assistant coach Jessica Cherry. They worked hard to get to this point.”
Woods, was awarded CUNYAC Player of the Year and played his best game as he scored a game-high 36 points, four assists, four steals and two blocks. Woods was also named the CUNYAC Tournament MVP for his outstanding effort. St John describes his performance as the much needed effort.
“Woods had the performance we needed him to have today,” said St John.“Big players show up in big games.”
York was the #2 seed in the tournament, scored the game’s first eight points on the strength of three-pointers by Omar St. John and Donald Rodriguez.
“Donald Rodriguez made clutch shots” said coach St.John .
The crowd was loud and energetic supporting us as he showed pictures of York supporters.
“Donald made big shots in big moments,” said freshman Juliet Matthews, Business Administration major. “ York would not have won that game if it wasn’t for the support of the crowd.”
Staten Island went on a short run to keep the game close. With players on both side having foul trouble,York persevered. Williams said staying focus is vital to the team’s victory.
“Stay focused and win the championship” Williams said. “ [The] teams goal was to win the CUNYAC then play in the NCAA tournament.”
ESPN3 broadcast the game live, and it was great television. “ I’m so proud of these guys. From day one we made this our commitment and we accomplished it. You couldn’t ask for a better game to showcase the conference and Division III,” said St. John according to the york athletics website.
Staten Island saw its 24-game win streak snapped with the loss. The defeat also ends their two-year reign as CUNYAC Champs. Now the next task is going to the final four.
“Know it is time for business,” said Assistant Director of Athletics/Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach, Jessica Cherry. “ The goal is to go to the final four.”
York College will play Rhode Island College Thursday March 6,2014.