Photo by Rebecca Plantholt
*This is the third story in a series documenting The Essex Women's Basketball Team and their Journey to winning the first National Championship in program history.
On Saturday, March 25, The CCBC Essex Knights made program history as they became The Women's NJCAA Division II National Champions.
After a 15-year program hiatus, CCBC Essex hired Head Coach Mike Seney in 2019 and in just three years he has turned the program around.
The Knights matched up against Richard Bland College, a fellow east coast team in the championship. Just three weeks after a possible season ending car accident The Knights prevailed and became champions in a thrilling overtime win. The final score of the game was 95 to 85.
Bianca Glover a starter for The Knights said, “We were made for this. We deserve this. After the team bought into the idea of 'circle' there was no stopping us.”
The game was close the whole time. You could see by the way both teams were playing that the game was going to be intense. The Knights led going into halftime by one point 31 to 32. Both teams put up impressive numbers, however, in overtime The Knights took over scoring 19 to the other team's 9 points.
The gym was packed and the crowd was electric from the beginning to the end of the game. Everybody on The Knights' bench and team played a huge part in the success of the season. The bench was electric as you saw some members of the team celebrating and dancing no matter what was going on within the game.
Three CCBC Essex Knights finished the game with double digits. Tyler Gray was the leading scorer for her team and had a career high in her last game as a Knight scoring 29 points. Faith Blackstone also put-up big numbers as she had all season scoring 27 points in the championship game. Anasia Staton was the last of the Knights to score in double digits ending the night with 18 points in the win. All three were named to the All-Tournament Team and Faith Blackstone was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
Head Coach Mike Seney stated after winning The NJCAA Division II National Championship, “It was destined. I just knew from the start that our team was different. After everything that happened, we had to win. One thing nobody can take from any of us, is that we are National Champs.”
The Knights ended the season with 36 wins and only 1 loss. Head coach mike Seney was named coach of the year. Faith Blackstone was named Player of the Year. Anasia Staton and Faith Blackstone were both named first team All-American while Tyler Gray was named second team All-American.
Four out of the five starters have decided where they will be attending school next season. Anasia Staton will attend Towson University with her former Essex teammate Patricia Anumgba. Bianca Glover will attend UMass-Lowell. Tiffany Hammond and Tyler Gray will both be attending Coppin State University. However, the success of The Knights does not end there, Daqira Lancaster will attend Morgan State University. Faith Blackstone and Cassandra Hawthorne are not yet decided.
This was a historic season for The CCBC Essex Knights. Congratulations to all who were involved in the success of this team. Where will the program go from here? It’s hard to say, however, if the program is lead by Coach Seney there only seems to be one plausible route and that is winning.