SLCC Men’s Basketball Team National Champs

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SLCC Bruins win NJCAA men's Division I national title against Hutchinson on their home court in Hutchinson, Kansas.

Photo Credit: Bob Hunter for NJCAA  The Salt Lake Community College men's basketball team wins NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.

Photo Credit: Bob Hunter for NJCAA The Salt Lake Community College men's basketball team wins NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.

They just competed in every game. They were so solid. It just means a ton to our school. I’m so excited for these kids. We’re real excited to go home.

The No. 13 Salt Lake Community College men’s basketball team Saturday night won the NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship by beating No. 7 Hutchinson on their home court in Hutchinson, Kansas.

“I just can’t be more proud of our kids,” SLCC Head Coach Todd Phillips said in an NJCAA TV interview after the game. “They just competed in every game. They were so solid. It just means a ton to our school. I’m so excited for these kids. We’re real excited to go home.”

The SLCC Bruins rallied after five losses late in the regular season to dominate the Region 18 tournament and District I playoff game against Cochise College. For the national title, they burned through No. 20 Northeast Mississippi, No. 4 Odessa College, No. 12 Southwest Tennessee and No. 8 Gillette College. Against Hutchinson the Bruins again jumped ahead early and often maintained a doubled-digit lead, weathering a late Hutchinson rally that cut the lead to four before SLCC won by 10. The difference makers for the Bruins Saturday night were field goals (40.3 percent) and three-point attempts (34.6 percent) versus Hutchinson’s 35.5 percent from the field and sinking only two of 22 from beyond the three-point line.

“We are so proud of our student athletes on and off the court,” said SLCC President Deneece G. Huftalin, who watched the game in Kansas. “Saturday night was the culmination of a season of hard work and dedication for the men’s basketball team. Congratulations to head coach Phillips, his staff and, of course, our incredible team. They play with passion and a deep sense of team pride. That and their sheer talent and great coaching made us No. 1 in the country!”

Freshman Conner Toolson scored 28 points against Hutchinson and was awarded the William B. French MVP for the tournament. SLCC’s Tad Dufelmeier, who had six points and six assists, won the Charles Sesher Sportsmanship Award. Dufelmeier and Tyler Rawson, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds against Hutchinson, made the All-Tournament Team. SLCC head coach Todd Phillips was named Coach of the Tournament.

“It’s been a great year and a great run,” Rawson told NJCAA TV Saturday. “It’s been our goal this entire tournament to come out hot and jump on teams. It’s part of what we do, and that’s how we ended up winning games. I’m happy we got the win.”

Salt Lake Community College is an accredited, student-focused, comprehensive community college meeting the diverse needs of the Salt Lake community. Home to more than 60,000 students each year, the College is Utah’s leading provider of workforce development programs. SLCC is also the largest supplier of transfer students to Utah’s four-year institutions and a perennial Top 10 college nationally for total associate degrees awarded. The College is the sole provider of applied technology courses in the Salt Lake area, with multiple locations, an eCampus, and nearly 1,000 continuing education sites located throughout the Salt Lake Valley. Personal attention from an excellent faculty is paramount at the College, which maintains an average class size of 20.

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Stephen Speckman
Salt Lake Community College
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