MCC men, led by four local standouts, playing for a regional title this weekend

By Steve Gunn

MUSKEGON – There’s an awful lot of basketball talent in Muskegon County.

Just look at what the Muskegon Community College men’s basketball team has accomplished over the past two seasons.LSJ Logo incert

Last season the Jayhawks finished with a record of 21-9. This year they are 23-6 and counting.

That makes the team 44-15 thus far in the two-year span.

Coach Schlump (middle) and his coaching staff get ready for a timeout as point guard Will Roberson joins the huddle. Photo/Jason Goorman

Coach Schlump (middle right) and his coaching staff get ready for a timeout as point guard Will Roberson joins the huddle. Photo/Jason Goorman

Powering the impressive run have been four sophomores from three local high schools – Eddie Tornes and Aaron Sydnor from Muskegon Heights, Will Roberson from Muskegon and Marcus Tumblin from Mona Shores.

“As far as we can tell, this is the best two-year span in MCC men’s basketball history,” said Jayhawks Coach Dave Schlump. “They (the local players) are the cornerstone of it. They are the ones who delivered.”

And they continue to deliver.

The Jayhawks, ranked sixth in the nation in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division 2 poll, opened up regional play on Wednesday with a 113-78 thumping of Glen Oaks Community College.

On Friday they will meet Lake Michigan College in regional semifinals at 1 p.m. at Delta College in Saginaw.

If they win the Jayhawks will advance to the regional finals on Saturday at 5:30 p.m., against the winner of the Lansing Community College-Jackson Community College semifinal.

MCC's Marcus Tumblin goes up for the breakaway dunk in Tuesday's regional win over Glen Oakes. Photo/Jason Goorman

MCC’s Marcus Tumblin goes up for the breakaway dunk in Tuesday’s regional win over Glen Oaks. Photo/Jason Goorman

The regional champion will advance to the 32-team NCJAA Division 2 national tournament in Danville, Illinois.

Could the Jayhawks be a contender for a national title? The closest the men’s team ever came was in 1990, when it was the national runner-up.

“I think the fact that we beat Lansing by 15 points, and they had been ranked No. 1 in the nation for eight straight weeks, proves that we can play with anyone on any given day,” Schlump said.

While the regular season was good for the Jayhawks, they didn’t accomplish their top goal – to win the Western Conference of the Michigan Community College Athletic Association and play for the state title against the Eastern Conference champion.

MCC finished 12-4 in conference play, one game behind Lansing Community College.

But the regular season is gone and the postseason is under way, with all sorts of possibilities for the talented squad.

“We wanted to play for a state championship,” Schlump said. “The last time MCC won a state championship was in 1947.

“But when that didn’t come to pass, being a veteran team, we said that’s over. Now we find ourselves two games away from being one of 32 teams invited to the national tournament.”

The four local sophomore standouts are leading the way statistically for MCC.

Tornes is averaging 21.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Tumblin is averaging 19.1 points, and 9.4 rebounds per game.

Eddie Tornes (left) and Will Roberson Jr. stand in the back court during a free throw. Photo/Jason Goorman

Eddie Tornes (left) and Will Roberson Jr. stand in the back court during a free throw. Photo/Jason Goorman

Sydnor is averaging 14.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Roberson is averaging 12.4 points and six assists per game.

The fifth starter, Terrance Cosby, is averaging 8.7 points and 7.7 rebounds.

Tornes, who has committed to finish his college career at Ferris State University, is now third on the all-time Jayhawk scoring list with 1,204 points in two seasons. He is also tied for a school record with nine 3-pointers in one game.

Schlump said he knew the four players would make a good unit when he recruited them out of high school in 2014.

“A couple of years ago we were coming off a pretty tough season,” the coach said. “The wins and losses were not where we wanted them to be.

“Coach Booth (assistant Jim Booth) and I knew that Eddie and Aaron had played for the Heights, Will had just won a state title at Muskegon, and Mona Shores with Marcus was also very good. We figured we would make a play to convince these kids to stay at home and play here.

“We really recruited them hard. We said ‘You guys all know each other and played with and against each other. Now let’s join forces and see what we can do together.’”

The four local stars have been great about welcoming younger players – including those from outside the area – on to the team, according to Schlump.

“They have welcomed and fostered some really good teammates,” he said.

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