After starting 1-2 in the early goings of 2018, the Red Ravens men's basketball program have been red hot. Winners of nine straight--including wins over NJCAA ranked Hutchinson and heated rival Independence Community College--the team looks primed to finish their regular season on a high note and put a full head of steam going into playoffs.
The team has outscored their opponents 723-605 during the stretch. While there is a point disparity, the Red Ravens have also been able to win close defensive battles. Most notable is the 72-70 win over Hutchinson where Travis Washington hit a buzzer beater. Five of the nine wins have come with 10 or fewer points.
"The most impressive thing [about the winning streak] is that we have had a lot of different contributors," said head coach Jay Herkelman. "We've been on this run and we haven't been 100%."
Most notable subtraction from the team has been their big man Cedric Roland. Roland missed the Hutchinson game due to a serious flu illness that sidelined him for three games. On the season, Roland has averaged 10.4 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game.
"We missed Ced [Roland] during this, but Anthony Jones and as of late, Keon [Queen] have really stepped up for us," said Herkelman.
In their latest victory against Neosho County Panthers Queen posted nine points, eight rebounds, and one steal/block.
While on their red hot streak, the usual suspects have stepped up for Herkelman and his staff.
Freshman Marvin Johnson has averaged 15.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 1.5 assists. His biggest game came against Pratt Beavers where he posted a 31/10/3/1/3 line. Recently, Johnson was named KJCCC Player of the Week for his efforts against Pratt and Colby.
TJ Washington "The President" averaged 12.6/2.3/1.5/0.1/3.7 per game. As of late, The President has really come on strong, solidifying himself as one of the elite point guards in the KJCCC.
Anthony Jones carried the Red Ravens at the beginning of this run before cooling off due to an injury in the Hutchinson game. Jones was producing at a 16.6/4.5/0.75/0.12/0.62 clip in eight of the nine games.
As always, the guy that we have come accustomed to being the glass hog, Josh Hill really stepped his presence up. During this run, Hill has made a name for himself and giving the Red Ravens a presence down low to help Roland and Queen. Hill posted 3.2/6.2/0.3/0.1/0.44.
Freshman Casey Benton, who has been the Red Ravens most consistent player on the year, posted a line of 12.3/3.5/0.6/0.2/1.5 throughout the streak.
The Red Ravens find themselves gaining steam as they storm through their final five games of the regular season. They still have Barton Cougars, who lead the KJCCC, on their schedule and will need to keep this momentum going if they look to take sole possession of first place.
Keeping his #17 NJCAA ranked team focused on finishing strong and going after the big picture, Herkelman and his staff continue to work towards long postseason success.