With an appearance in the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) Basketball Tournament, Enterprise State Community College players are looking to put the results of last season behind them.
“This year it’s more like redemption,” said sophomore guard Matthew Mazique. “We went out in the same place last year that we’re in now, and I think we all decided that’s not how we wanted to leave it off.”
The Boll Weevils will meet Shelton State Community College at 7 p.m. today at Lawson State Community College in Birmingham. ESCC defeated Bevill State at home last Friday to make the tourney.
Head Coach Jermaine Williams said there was a great deal of emotion and excitement after last week’s win.
“There was a lot of rejoicing and praising God, because we started the season off, you know, trying to build camaraderie within the team,” Williams said. “To see where this team is now compared to where we started is a big deal, so there was a whole lot joy and happiness especially for the sophomores. It was their last time playing here (in Lolley Arena) and they wanted to win it, most of all, for each other.”
Those sophomores, Williams said, are a key part of the team’s success, and they help to raise the maturity level of the entire team.
“Having six sophomores, that’s helped a lot,” Williams said. “It makes your coaching job a lot easier because on the court and off the court, they know what to do, when to do it and how to do it.”
Among the sophomores on the roster is Kainon Pouncey, who said a return trip the tournament means a lot after the team has put in so much work.
“We were here last year and hopefully we’ll overcome and do better than last year,” Pouncey said. “It feels like it was meant to be after all the hard work we put in over the summer and during the season, and hopefully we can go out there and just get another win.”
ESCC hosted a special send-off for the players on Monday morning in Lolley Gym. Students, faculty and staff were on-hand to wish good luck against their opponent Shelton State Community College.
Williams said fans can expect a fast-paced game against a talented Shelton State squad.
“They are a bigger team,” Williams said. “We have great size around the perimeter, but they are a very big team. They have a seven-footer that we’ll really have to key in on. He actually handles the ball and he can shoot threes and he can post up, so we’ve got our hands full on that part.”
Mazique, another of the sophomore leaders on the Boll Weevil squad, said he’s excited for the challenge and feels great about his team.
“I’m expecting to see a team that’s going to go out there and win all 40 minutes,” Mazique said. “I think we’re going to be together and cohesive and, at the end of the day, I think we’re going to come out with the win.”
Bevill State 74
Enterprise (10-4, 18-10) hosted Bevill State Friday and came away with a 76-74 win in the tournament’s first round, played at various sites around the state.
Kainan Pouncey led the Weevils with 19 points; Shedrick Cooper and Deshunte Smith had 12 points apiece in the game that shouldn’t have been as close as its score.
“We should’ve had more players in double figures, but we missed critical free throws late in the game when we needed them most,” ESCC coach Jeremaine Williams said. “I’m really proud of the guys for getting the win and I’m proud we’re headed back to the state tournament.
“But as it’s been all season, we need to learn to finish games and to put teams away when we get the chance. We played well on defense Friday in the second half, but we need to play that way the entire game.
“This team has its opportunity to be special. I hope our best games are this week!”
Enterprise will square off against Shelton at 7 p.m.
Ricky Adams contributed to this article.