COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DACC teams play in regional semis

Mar. 11—DANVILLE — Both Danville Area Community College basketball teams are looking to continue a busy March today.

The men's team is the top seed in the Men's Region 24 Tournament as it will play Spoon River in semifinal play today at 1 p.m. in Champaign.

The Jaguars (22-4) has beaten the Snappers in both games this season and both games were not easy.

"Spoon River is a tricky team. They are athletic and they do things well," DACC men's head coach DaJuan Gouard said. "At our place, we took off late in the game, so it is going to be a battle. They had a couple of guys that didn't play at their place, so we did some things we weren't able to do with them, but those guys will be back. I told the guys it would be more like the first game than the second game with them."

Because of their 10-0 undefeated Mid-West Athletic Conference mark, DACC picked up some postseason hardware this week. Sophomore guard Ramalle Arnold and sophomore forward Kendall Taylor were each named to the MWAC first team while sophomore guard Dameriz Merriweather and sophomore guard Stephen Atkinson were named to the second team.

"Those guys who receive All-Conference honors deserved it," Gouard said. "They worked their tails off and came in every day and put their hard hats on and did everything I asked them to do. We have been playing with a great deal of chemistry and we have been playing very hard. When we get awards, even through there are four guys' names on the sheet, it is a team award. It goes to show how the guys care about each other and it is not about statistics, it is about playing with each other."

Gouard also picked up an award as he was named MWAC Coach of the Year.

"It is a team and coaches award. I tell the guys that I can't do anything without them and they can't do anything without me," Gouard said. "It's a group effort and they go hand to hand and our guys have bought into that and they are selfless when it comes to that. So winning Coach of the Year is an individual award but it is not possible without God and these guys."

If the Jaguars win, they will go against the winner of today's 3 p.m. game against host Parkland and Rend Lake.

"At this time of the year, we have played everyone twice," Gouard said. "It is about what we can do to control things and to make sure whatever we are doing is right. We are going to break down what we want to do for the game on Saturday. We haven't changed our practice patterns and we will focus on us."

As the top seed, Gouard knows that the team will be going against teams who would like to get a win back this weekend.

"Our conference is tough. If you look at our wins, it was difficult to win on the road," Gouard said. "We are going to take it one game and one half at a time. We have to make sure that we execute and do what we have done all year. Everyone wants to win at this time but at this time, it is taking care of us and doing the right things at the right places and having the right mindset and attitude. When we do that, we are in good shape."

Of course, if the Jaguars win the tournament, they will play in front of the home fans at the NJCAA Division II Tournament.

"Every year, it is the goal for us," Gouard said. "As you start competing, you want to be the last one standing, We are going to come in and do the job and make sure that we put our best foot forward to be the last team standing."

The women's team will travel to Lake Land College today for a semifinal matchup against Parkland College.

"It is a great opportunity. It could have been Parkland or anyone, we are happy to be in the Final Four.," DACC women's head coach Erika Harris said. "It just so happens to be Parkland, who got us twice this season. We are going to go out against a great team with a lot of weapons especially in the paint, so we have to put our best foot forward in this third game and see where it takes us."

The Lady Jags lost the first game between the two teams 80-64 but only lost 70-65 in the second game.

"At the end of the day, you have to make shots," Harris said. "We missed a lot of shots in that second game and forced a lot of shots and had empty possessions and when you have empty possessions, you can't give good transition teams like that any chances. We have to make sure we handle the paint better and we have to make sure to clean up those things. We also have to clean up the press and halfcourt defense and we have to make sure that we are our best version offensively."

The Lady Jaguars have won their last four games and have scored at least 70 points in three of those victories.

"We talked as coaches all the time about looking different because people scout and people take film and we talked about peaking at the right time. I tis now or never at this time of th the season. We have been talking abotu that as far asprogression of a player and they have stepped into its own in making progressions."

The Cobras are 23-4 and have players that Harris said the Lady Jaguars are going to be looking for.

Shaelyn Bell and Alyssa Cole are All-Conference and All-Region players and you have to protect the paint with them," Harris said. "We know that their offense runs through them, so we have to handle the paint better. We know with the guards, we have to guard on the perimeters. We have to play great team defense and make the ball better to get into the spots for the best shots."

"Bell, Cole, 14 (Jennifer Heinberg) and 21 (Abby Shepard) is shooting well and the Decker kid is doing well and has a huge motor for them offensive. Brooke Runge has been playing with a little more confidence and playing well at the right time. You have post players are coming off the bench and playing well. No. 10 (Chloe Gould) makes reads and doing a lot better finding spots. Any of them can step up and being a x-factor. anyone else can step up and we need to make sure we can control what we can control and go from there."