Hoop Dreams: Area D2 Schools Shoot For NCAA’s

Fourteen area men’s and women’s teams will battle it out this weekend as the region’s three Division II basketball tournaments conclude with semifinal and final action, with automatic and at-large NCAA Tournament berths on the line. Five schools—Bloomfield, Caldwell, Dominican, Molloy and St. Thomas Aquinas—have both their men’s and women’s teams still competing, while one—Adelphi’s women—has already reached its tournament final.

In the Northeast 10 Conference, Adelphi, the #1 seed from the league’s Southwest Division, will take on the #1 seed from the Northeast Division, Bentley, after the Panthers rallied from a 19-point deficit Thursday to beat visiting Le Moyne, 67-57. Adelphi (25-4), hosting its second-ever NE10 Championship Game, takes on the 26-4 Falcons at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Garden City, N.Y. The Panthers, led by Sierra Clark (19.5 ppg) and Calli Balfour (15.2 ppg), are ranked No. 2 in the East Region, two spots ahead of Bentley, and 14th nationally.

Caldwell will host the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference men’s and women’s semis and finals on Saturday and Sunday, with six of the eight teams coming from the league’s North Division—both the men’s and women’s teams from Bloomfield, Caldwell and Dominican. The host Cougars’ top-seeded women’s squad (24-4, No. 3 in the Region) draw North Division #3 seed Dominican, which upset #2 South entrant Goldey Beacom last Saturday. The Cougars are led by CACC Player of the Year and First Team Academic All-American Kristin Drogsler (20.6 ppg, 10th nationally) and second-team All-CACC guard Sharell Sanders (10.8 ppg, 5.2 apg), while the Chargers (12-17) are paced by senior All-League forward Lisa Bouffard (12.2 ppg). Caldwell’s Kristina Danella was named the league’s Coach of the Year in her third year at the helm.

In Saturday’s other CACC women’s semifinal, North #2 Bloomfield (21-7) will ride its two First Team All-CACC stars Tianna Smith (17.5 ppg) and Zhane Robinson (9.3 rpg) against South #1 University of the Sciences (24-5). The Bears had won three straight CACC North Division crowns before settling in at #2 this year. Bears coach David Caputo has a 65-11 league record in four seasons at Bloomfield.

The Cougars men earned the #3 North seed and upended #2 South Wilmington on Saturday to advance to their first semifinal in nearly a decade. The young squad (17-11) is led by junior Derek Dorn (14.8 ppg) and freshmen Zay Jennings (12.4 ppg) and Vaughn Covington (11.1 ppg). They take on the North #1 seed Bloomfield (20-9), which has won three of the last six CACC crowns and is led by dynamic First Team All-CACC performer Nick Davidson (16.9 ppg) and Third Team star Marcus Fleming (14.3 ppg). The Bears are rated No. 6 in the region.

Dominican’s men, the North #2 seed, get a crack at South #1 Philadelphia University, which is led by Naismith Hall of Fame Coach Herb Magee, in his 50th year at the helm of the Rams. First-team All-CACC pick Gerrel Irvin (15.8 ppg) and the steady Chargers (18-11) battle PhilaU, rated No. 7 in the region and boasting a First Team all-league performer in Kaison Randolph (17.1 ppg) and Rookie of the Year Kylan Guerra (10.7 ppg).

In the East Coast Conference tournament, held in Bridgeport, Conn., the host and third-seeded Purple Knights men take on No 2 Molloy. Bridgeport (18-11) senior center Kyle Benjamin (14.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg) and junior guard Sam Joseph (14.0 ppg) take on the Lions’ dynamic scoring duo of Jayle Morris and Charlie Marquardt, who both average 20.4 ppg. The No. 1 seeded STAC Spartans (23-5, No. 4 in the region) draw fourth-seeded Daemen (19-8) from Western N.Y. STAC features five double-figure scorers, including guards Justin Reyes (19.6 ppg) and Chaz Watler (15.1 ppg).

On the women’s side, the ECC is an all-New York affair. Queens, rated at No. 10 in the nation and first in the region, features one of the nation’s leading scorers in senior Madison Rowland (21.3 ppg), complemented by her sister and classmate MacKenzie Rowland (17.7 ppg). The Knights put their 24-3 mark on the line against fifth-seeded NYIT, which bounced #4 Roberts Wesleyan on Wednesday. The balanced Bears (17-10) are led by freshman Margaret Knollmeyer (14.4 ppg, 10.6 rpg) and senior Shanice Allen (13.0 ppg).

NCAA Division II tournament bids will be announced on Sunday at 10 p.m. ET.

All action can be viewed online. See links below:

(all games at Caldwell University, Caldwell, N.J.)

Saturday, March 5

Men’s SF: Bloomfield vs. Caldwell, noon
Men’s SF: Philadelphia vs. Dominican, 30 mins following
Women’s SF: Caldwell vs. Dominican, 5 p.m
Women’s SF: USciences vs. Bloomfield, 30 mins following

Sunday, March 6

Men’s Final, noon
Women’s Final, 2:30 p.m.

Northeast 10

Sunday, March 6
Women’s Final: Bentley at Adelphi, 1 p.m.

East Coast Conference
(all games at University of Bridgeport, Bridgeport, Conn.)

Saturday, March 5

Women’s SF: NYIT vs. Queens, noon
Women’s SF: STAC vs. Molloy, 2:30 p.m.
Men’s SF: Daemen vs. STAC, 5 p.m.
Men’s SF: Bridgeport vs. Molloy, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 6
Women’s Final, noon
Men’s Final, 2:30 p.m.

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