By Bronson Peshlakai
Tri-C Forward Jahad Fruits shoots the ball during a basketball game Nov. 6 against the Community College of Allegheny County at the Tri-C Metro Gymnasium. Photo by Amber Brumfield
It was an ecstatic win for the Tri-C Men’s Basketball Team on Nov. 6, when they brought home Coach Randy White’s first home opener win, 87-75, against the Community College of Allegheny County.
“It’s kind of special because this is the first year that I’ve been here that I won a home opener,” White said. “I’m 1-3 now.”
In their third game of nonconference play this year, everyone on the team is new this year.
Cleveland Heights High School graduate Aaron Ashley, No. 23, took up the initiative at the start of the game making the first 10 points of the game. The 6 foot, 3 inch tall sophomore brings talent to the team. A former nationally ranked player in high school, Ashley is overcoming previous injuries and sickness, but judging from the game against CCAC, he’s ready to make a huge comeback.
No. 23 Aaron Ashley shoots a free throw at a game against CCAC on Nov. 6. Photo by Amber Brumfield
“No. 23 is a kid that has come though some adversity,” White said. “A highly acclaimed player out of high school who in his senior year hurt left with an illness. He was ranked nationally as a player, and it was a long road to recovery. As this season goes he will get stronger.”
Ashley shot 25 points in the game, including 4 three-pointers.
Close behind Ashley in points was No. 5 Jahad Fruits. The team showed a good offensive driving force and Fruits was one to show how to be a quick-turn around to move the ball around the court with finesse.
“I bring intensity and I bring defensive pressure – I’m a slasher,” Fruits said. “I like getting the ball to the rim and getting to the free-throw line and getting those easy points.”
Fruits shot 18 points in the game against CCAC including 5 free throws.
Tri-C led the game for the most part, with CCAC leading by about 10 points for several minutes in the first, but if there is a weakness evident from game play, it’s what last year’s team had to keep working on to the end – building a solid defensive guard.
“If you heard me hollering that’s because most of my frustration is on that defensive end. I believe it is getting better day to day though,” White said.
At the community college level, White has to work with a high turnover, and this year there are no returning players at all.
“It’s a challenge. Kids got to come in and learn our philosophy. They really have dig in to what we are trying to do defensively,” White said.
At upcoming practices the team knows what they need to work on.
“They had some pretty quick guards,” Ashley said. “In the first half we had trouble staying in front and contesting some of their shots; in the second half we did a pretty good job of staying in front and forcing them to bad shots and running the break.”
“We have to step it up, bring it up to the next level,” Fruits said. “What we did today is just shy of what we want to do against Beaver.”
On Nov. 12, Tri-C played against the Community College of Beaver County who was ranked 4th on the national level. They lost the game by 5 points. The previous two games played before CCAC was in Chicago where the team lost both game by 5 points as well.
Teamwork is the name of the game though. This new team has found camaraderie with one another and will certainly work together as the season moves forward to make themselves shine.
“The thing is though is that they all like each other and they all work hard against each other, so I think we will improve rather rapidly,” White said.
“There are a lot of different personalities and it’s a great group; we all try to work hard and practice is very competitive,” Fruits said.
“It’s fun playing with my teammates, we have a good group of guys and everybody enjoys each other,” Ashley said. “We all get along and we all hang out as a team in public.”