SJC Basketball Does Double Duty at National Championships


Courtesy of San Jacinto College Marketing, Public Relations and Government Affairs Department

San Jacinto College’s athletic programs enjoyed the national spotlight when both the women’s and men’s basketball teams reached the NJCCA national tournament. The Lady Gators made a historic first appearance in the championship series, while the Ravens clinched the number four spot in the country.

In an ironic twist, two athletic programs facing cancellation at the end of next spring thrust San Jacinto College basketball into the national spotlight with appearances at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national basketball tournaments.

The Lady Gators advanced to the national contest for the first time in the franchise’s history, while the Ravens clinched the number four spot in the country on the men’s side of the competition.

Both basketball programs will cease at the end of the 2018 season as a result of a unanimous decision taken by the College’s Board of Trustees to eliminate four San Jac competitive athletic teams including volleyball and soccer.

The Ravens sailed to the second round of the tournament before losing to Northwest Florida State, 98-82. Their overall record was 33-2, “making them the first San Jacinto team in 12 years to earn 30 wins in a single season,” according to Sharon Nelson, head volleyball coach and athletic director on the Central Campus. 

Meanwhile, the women’s team fell to Hartford Community College, 80-72, in the first round ending their season with an overall record of 24-9.

Lady Gators Head Coach Mike Madrid, now in his second year with San Jac, said he and his team are grateful to have been a part of the history-making moment, adding “It’s a tribute to our players and dedication to each other.”

“Our goal each game was to go 1-0, and we did that more often than not,” he said.

Before heading to the tournament, Ravens Head Coach Scott Gernander credited solid team collaboration as a factor in helping them advance.

“We have a team with good chemistry, and we are all just sticking to our roles,” he said.

However, the looming elimination of the basketball programs weighed heavily on both teams on their way to nationals.

“No one outside of our program will understand the adversity this group faced,” Madrid said.

As both head coaches look toward their final year with the College and the last season for both franchises, they said their focus would remain on playing solid basketball.

Madrid said the Gators “will conduct business as usual,” while Gernander noted, “we just have to go out every day and control what we can.”

“I’ll continue to do my job to the best of my abilities and hope for the best,” Gernander said. “Our plan is to continue to bring national exposure to San Jac and promote our players.”

As to the possibility of a last-minute reversal of the decision to shut down the programs, “That is for our administration to decide,” Madrid said, stressing the importance of athletics to many in the San Jac community. 

“We have first generation students,” he added, “who have an opportunity for an education because of basketball.”

*Cameron Evans contributed to this report