The LCCC Commodores had high hopes and goals when going into the next tournament game against Joliet, but the positivity ended soon after the first five minutes when we missed the first seven free throws, two lay ups and a dunk. This gave Joliet all they needed to take advantage of the situation and pull out a victory.
Coach Cruz gave credit to Joliet’s ability to “jump on them early” because it ultimately “panicked our kids”. He adds, “They played a good basketball game. They were able to execute their game plan and made it difficult for us to execute ours.” LCCC couldn’t handle the early disappointment and the 15 point cushion Joliet made for themselves which led to poor decisions. “They didn’t relax, and thought they needed something extraordinary when all they needed was to take a deep breath.” Coach Cruz couldn’t help his team understand that there was plenty of time to catch up resulting in more mistakes and a 30 point deficit at half. LCCC would have needed to play a flawless second half to win this one, but Joliet took control of the ball and advanced on in the tournament beating our guys 102-51.
Although this loss was the toughest to take in, LCCC will learn from it and keep their head high going into next season. These guys have made a tremendous improvement on and off the court and have a great deal to be proud of, completing the most successful season LCCC’s basketball program has had in many years. Coach Cruz agrees, “We accomplished a lot this season,” but he also makes the expectations for next year very clear. “We did not accomplish that ultimate goal of a National Championship, and I hope we can use the upset to motivate us to go further next season.”