Gernander returns to Hutch, this time as coach
03.10.2015 | By Amanda Booren
PASADENA, Texas – The San Jacinto College men’s basketball team is headed back to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. As the No. 15 seed, San Jac will face No. 18 Columbia State Community College (Tennessee) on Monday, March 16 at 6:30 p.m., at the Hutchinson Sports Arena in Hutchinson, Kansas.
For Head Coach Scott R. Gernander, the trip back to Hutch, as it is commonly known in the NJCAA basketball world, is one he hasn’t made since leading San Jac to the national runner-up as a player in 2003. When asked how, or even if, he would use that as motivation for his team, he simply said, “There isn’t much I can tell them besides it’s an amazing gym and an all-around great basketball environment.”
Gernander, now in his third season at the helm of the San Jacinto College men’s basketball program, added that the team is aware of the history at Hutch and all of the great teams and players that have played in the tournament. “They are extremely excited,” he said. “I’m just glad I could help San Jac get back. It means a lot to me because I grew up a Raven. I’ve been to the tournament as a coach’s son to support my father (former San Jac Head Coach Scott Gernander), as a player, and now as a coach. So it’s really special.”
San Jac (28-5) fell to Tyler Junior College in the championship game of the Region XIV tournament this past weekend, which kept them from earning the automatic bid. However, it wasn’t enough to keep them out of the national tournament. San Jac was one of three Texas teams to receive four at-large bids to the national tournament.
Gernander points to the game against Trinity Valley Community College (who also received an at-large bid) early in the season as a turning point that helped his team get to where it is today. “We were battling some injuries and a tough road trip in Florida,” he commented. “We lost three games in a row, and then played fourth-ranked Trinity Valley. We played well, but let them back in the game. Dana Raysor made a three-point shot to help us win by one point, and we went on to win 10 more consecutive games after that.”
San Jac opened the season winning six straight, before hitting that snag in Florida. It then won 11 out of the next 12 games before falling to Tyler in the Region XIV championship. “We’ve faced some highs and lows this season,” noted Gernander. “Our team was really emotional after we lost in the regional championship, and then we found out less than 24 hours later that we earned an at-large bid. We all thought we deserved to be in the tournament, and I’m glad the committee agreed.”
Four players average double-digit points for San Jac, led by sophomore Willie Mangum (Richmond, Va. / Marshall HS / Western Nebraska Community College). Mangum averages 20.7 points per game, a mark that ranks 21st in the nation. Sophomore transfer Donte Thomas is second on the team in scoring at 12.2 points per game. Thomas transferred in from Hagerstown Community College, and played in the national tournament two years ago.
The return to Hutchinson is the first for San Jac since 2006, and the College’s 20th overall trip to the national tournament. San Jacinto College last won the men’s basketball national title in 1986, when the team went undefeated with a 37-0 record. San Jac has won four national titles (1968, 1983, 1984, and 1986), and was the national runner-up on four occasions (1967, 1977, 1997, and 2003).
“I think this is one of the toughest national tournaments to get in to,” said Gernander. “There are 205 Division I men’s basketball teams in the NJCAA, and many would agree that our region is the toughest in the nation. So our region getting three teams in the tournament this year proves how strong it is.”
For more information on the national tournament, please visit the 2015 DI Men’s Basketball Championship Central website. For information about the San Jacinto College men’s basketball team, visit sanjacsports.com.
About the NJCAA
Since 1938 the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) has been the governing body of two-year college athletics, offering athletic and academic opportunities to college students. The NJCAA is the second largest national intercollegiate athletic organization in the United States with over 500 member schools in 43 states. Each year nearly 60,000 student-athletes compete in one of 28 different sports and the organization sponsors 48 national championship events and nine football bowl games. NJCAA Headquarters has been located in Colorado Springs, Colo., since 1985. For more information visit www.njcaa.org.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.