By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information
Toledo, Ohio—The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) released its Division II preseason poll yesterday, and the Owens Community College women’s basketball team was slotted into the No. 3 spot.
The ranking represents the highest preseason spot in program history for Owens, and it comes on the heels of news that the team was picked to win the 2016-17 Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) championship for the fifth straight season by the conference coaches.
Last year’s team opened the season at No. 4 and spent 10 weeks in the top 10, including the final seven weeks. Over the past two seasons, Owens has spent 20 weeks in the top 10, ascending as high as No. 2 for the final five weeks of the 2014-15 season.
The full poll can be found here
In 2015-16, Owens went 29-7 overall and 14-0 in Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) play. They captured the program’s fourth straight OCCAC championship, won the Region XII District I tournament championship for the second straight year and finished fifth at the NJCAA Division II National Tournament.
Jeryn Reese (Mansfield/Mansfield, Ohio), a 6-0 forward who returns for her sophomore campaign this year, had a breakout freshman year in which she was named First Team All-OCCAC, OCCAC Player of the Year, Region XII District I Player of the Year, Region XII District I tournament MVP and NJCAA Division II Second Team All-American. She also became the first player in program history to compete in the NJCAA All-Star Game after averaging 13.8 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per game.
Over the past two seasons, Owens has compiled a 63-9 record and earned two top five finishes in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament. The team has captured four straight and five of the past six OCCAC regular season championships, along with three of the past four Region XII District I tournament championships. They enter this year having won 35 straight regular season conference games.
Head coach Michael Llanas, who is entering his 13th year at Owens, is approaching 300 career wins and is 294-96 over his 12 years.
Owens will open its 2016-17 regular season on Nov. 1 at Mercyhurst North East Community College at 6 p.m. Following that, the team will open its home schedule against Wayne County Community College at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 9.
The full schedule can be found here
In addition to Reese, Owens returns a trio of guards, including 5-10 redshirt sophomore Courizma Williams (Hughes/Cincinnati, Ohio), who averaged 8.9 points for the 2014-15 team before redshirting last year. Returning from last year’s team is 5-9 Ariel Bethea (Huron/Ann Arbor, Mich.), who averaged 10.7 points, 3.9 steals and 3.4 assists per game last year, and 5-6 Sybil Roseboro (Elyria/Elyria, Ohio), who averaged 6.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
On top of that, Owens brought in a stellar recruiting class that includes 6-4 center Kamryn Troike (St. Wendelin/Fostoria, Ohio), 5-6 guard Essence Cowan (Lima Senior/Lima, Ohio), 5-2 point guard Brenda Pennington (Bishop Noll Institute/Hammond, Ind.), 5-9 guard Haili Mossing (Evergreen/Metamora, Ohio), 5-9 guard Haley Pickard (Genoa/Genoa, Ohio), 5-8 guard Denissa Sly (Northmont/Englewood, Ohio), 6-1 center Kaylah Ivey (Westerville South/Westerville, Ohio) and 6-0 forward Olivia Frost (North Baltimore/North Baltimore, Ohio).
This year’s full roster can be found here