ROCHESTER, Minn. - 12 college basketball teams are in the Med City this week with high hopes of winning a national championship. Among them are the RCTC Yellowjackets.
Head Coach, Brian LaPlante, told KIMT News 3 Sports he’s pretty happy with where the squad is right now. Anytime you’re still playing basketball in mid-March is a good problem to have. He says they’re just going to have to keep bringing that the same intensity they have been.
“We’re gritty,” Karmoga Lero said. “We just don’t give up, we play until the whistle is blown. We just don’t give up. We’re resilient.”
After losing four of their first six games in January, the Yellowjackets turned it up a notch and continued to improve weekly resulting in a 13 game win streak to close out the season, including a Regional Championship. That win was the one punching the Yellowjackets’ ticket to the national tournament.
“It means everything,” Mickey Jah said. “All the work that we’ve put in, all the hard work and preparation just to finally make it to this spot is everything we’ve been working hard for so it’s like a dream come true.”
An added bonus is that the NJCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship is set to be hosted on the Yellowjackets’ home court. RCTC is 12-2 at home this season.
Coach LaPlante is calling for a large presence from the Rochester faithful.
“We’re at home, we’ve been playing good basketball. We’re hoping for a great crowd Thursday night and people out there – come watch us. These kids deserve a great crowd and I think if you haven’t seen us before, you’ll be pretty amazed at the caliber of basketball that this tournament will bring.”
Everything is aligning to be in favor of the fourth-seeded Yellowjackets who aren’t about to take anything for granted.
“These are definitely the most important games of the year,” said Jerome Cunningham. “You’ve kind of got to go into the mindset that every game is going to be an important game because anything can happen, but these games I think gets every body’s blood flowing and juices going.”
RCTC received a first-round bye and will play the winner of Richland and Rhode Island on Mar. 12 at 6 PM.