Women’s Basketball head coaches win co-Coach of the Year  

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By Christina Easter

After taking over as co-head coach in January, Jasmine Frierson and Dion Griffin led the Women’s Basketball team to first place in the Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC). The season was Frierson and Griffin’s second year coaching at the collegiate level, but both embraced the opportunity and stepped up to the challenge with a message of leadership, expectations, and family. The players responded with improved performance on and off the court, which resulted in two players being selected to the All-OCCAC teams.  

“We really just put things together and owned the season as relationships started to blossom,” Griffin said. “Also, sophomores understood the assignment in terms of where we were and the season coming to an end, which meant the end of their career at Tri-C would come to an end as well.” 

Frierson and Griffin both agreed that the coaching change in the second half of the season was unfortunate but then saw how the players and Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) “poured into” the coaches. The coaches also agreed that having a couple players who were ineligible last season fight back to become eligible contributed to the team’s success. 

“What made it a successful season was the young ladies buying in and giving us the hard work, dedication, and commitment,” Frierson said. “They came in everyday, no matter what the obstacles or struggles were, and showed a lot of resiliency as we all worked through a lot of challenges. Also, there was a lot of comradery and positivity which led to our family oriented culture of going through and getting through everything together.” 

After the coaching change, the Women Triceratops went on an impressive 10-4 run to end the season. They finished 9-3 in the conference, 18-10 overall, loss only four of 14 games played at their Eastern Campus home court, and had no more than a one game losing streak. The team also averaged 42 rebounds per game, 12.3 assists, 11 steals, 2 blocks, and 62.6 points while allowing only 52.7 points.  

The success of the season was due to some consistent, outstanding play of the players. Quimari Shelton, sophomore and first team All-OCCAC averaged 18.8 points per game, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals, and grabbed 10.5 rebounds.  

“I always worked on how to make the team better as a whole,” Shelton said. “I had a game by game approach and stayed focused on what’s next. As a team, we also had a game by game approach and did not look too far into the future.” 

Sophomore and iron-lady Tori Smith played each game last season when the team had only five players. This season Smith started 24 of 27 games and was selected to the second-team All-OCCAC with her gritty play and much needed nearly eight rebounds and 10 points per game. “This season I took a different approach and was trying to push myself to become a better player for my team,” Smith said.  

All of the power players contributed to the team’s 42 rebounds per game – Amari Hancock (10.1), Marybella Dunlap (8.3), and Asia McAuliffe (8).  

Point guard and playmaker Dariah Kirksey led the team in assists with 3.4 and steals with 2.3 per game. Second year, all around player Briana Bunkley filled up the stat sheet during the season with a total of 323 points, 155 rebounds, 91 assists, 73 steals, and 12 blocks while leading the team in minutes played with 1,066. 

The coaches are appreciative and grateful for being named co-coaches of the year and say the season was a success because the young ladies brought into the message that was made clearer. They are looking forward to next season as there will be a target on the Triceratops after being conference champions.  

“The season is made and players are built in the summer, so we will be spending our summer on workouts, in the weight room, and on the new track,” Griffin said. “Also, we will teach our new recruits how to transition their high school role to college.”  

New recruits will be welcomed to the family culture that has been developed by Frierson and Griffin. “We came up with, it’s family on three together on six,” said the coaches. “We live by this because it is important for the young ladies to feel this as home while away from home.”

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