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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Cooper

10 Reasons To Root For Prince George's Community College Men's Team

1. Unfinished Business

The Owls won the NJCAA Division III Men's Region 20 Championship in the 2021–2022 season after finishing the regular season 13–12. The season ended on a disappointing note, however, when they ultimately fell to Sandhills Community College on their home court in the Mid–Atlantic District Championship, 77–72.

"Everything we've done from spring, summer, [and] fall workouts, and what we've done thus far is to condition ourselves to get over that hump and to get to the national championship, the National 21," Head Coach Terrell Harris said.

Already this year, the Owls, ranked seventh in the national standings, have an eight-game winning streak and appear prepared to defend their title as Region 20 champions.

2. They Like Each Other

Championship teams aren't made up of moving parts; they are a group of players that believe in winning and want to work together to achieve a common goal. In JUCO, this is the secret recipe for getting all players' attention from four-year schools. The Owls have figured this out organically, which has contributed to their exceptional record.

"The chemistry we have is amazing; they're always hanging out with each other. I can't get them to leave the gym," Coach Harris said.

"They enjoy playing with each other, and you see that on the court. They're high-fiving, having fun, and if somebody hits the floor, all four guys are going to pick them up," he continued. "And then it's reflected in the box score. That guy making the extra pass, not caring who scores the points because if we defend the way we practice defending, everybody's going to score."

3. Heart Over Height

Despite not being the largest team in their league, the Owls more than make up for it in other ways.

"They all are athletic, fly around, rebound well and play hard," Coach Harris said.

The undersized group makes a deliberate effort to attack on the boards.

Elijah Crawford, a forward who stands 6'4 m", leads the Owls with 7.4 rebounds, followed by Anthony Perry, a forward who is an inch taller and has 4.9 rebounds.

"Sometimes we just want it more than the other team, and they underestimate us, so you do the little things like boxing out?" Crawford said.

"Box out three guys, and the last guy crash and grab the board. We don't worry about who has the most rebounds individually as long as we have more team rebounds than the other team."

The Owls also have a large number of shorter players who average three or more rebounds per game, and they typically out-rebound their opponents in games.

4. The PGCC Culture

Starting last season, former Owls Head Coach William West and then-Assistant Coach Harris set out to explain to the newcomers the significance of donning a PGCC jersey.

To play at PGCC, according to Coach Harris, "means to come out and compete at a high level. To win with class, graduate, and go on to your four-year university."

Sophomore guard Deonte Cooke shares his perspective of the culture at PGCC from a player's perspective.

"PGCC culture is no grind, no shine," Cooke said. "We grind every day and stick to the script. We're making winning a part of the culture at PG, and we will put the school back on the map."

5. Coach Harris, The Mentor

Regardless of the sport, JUCO is where athletes decide if basketball is the right path for them, and depending on the program's culture, it might make or ruin a player's career. While some coaches focus on mentoring, others coach to win.

Coach Harris falls into the former group. He is there for the team where ever adversity strikes, either on or off the court.

"Outside of basketball, guys got things going on within their household, relationships, and things like that," Coach Harris said. "I have that relationship with our guys where if you need anything, call me, [no] matter what time it is."

For Coach Harris, there is more to life than just basketball, and a coach should guide his players to make decisions in the real world and not just on the court.

6. The Heart And Soul

A team's core players can help everyone else play to a higher level. The Owls have great leaders who are the heart and soul of the team.

"Deonte Cooke, who's a returner from last year's region championship team, [is] the vocal leader of the team. His voice is very loud, so you'll hear him," according to Coach Harris. Cooke shines on offense too. "[He] can fill it up and get hot anytime. He's an excellent scorer," Coach Harris said.

Cooke isn't alone. "Anthony Simmons, he goes by 'Sticks.' He's another one of those vocal leaders that lead by example and plays hard as heck," Coach Harris said. "He wants to win, the ultimate competitor. No matter what we're doing, he's trying to win, and if he doesn't win, he's fired up."

Recently, Simmons made the game-winning layup against rival Montgomery County Community College in a close contest, giving the Owls the 79-77 road victory.

"To be a player on the team that the team trusts to take the final shot, it definitely feels good," Simmons said. "Because we put in the work every day, it feels good to be trusted by my coaches and teammates when taking the final shot."

In addition, Sophomore Forward Elijah Crawford brings experience and leadership to the Owls.

"Being a sophomore on this team, I'm like the veteran leader because I played two years at division three level, Crawford said. "They look at me in tough situations. I have that voice that keeps us going and everybody levelheaded."

7. Mr. Unsung

A great team also has its stealth standouts. According to Coach Harris, sophomore guard DaJuan McMillan is the team's unsung hero.

"He's the one that when we start getting out of whack, he gets the ball and calms everybody down. He's the engine. He gets us going," Coach Harris said. "He's that one guy that if you look at the box score, he may not score a lot of points every game, but he has a really big impact on the game."

8. Year on Year Improvement

The Owls had a great 2021-2022 season, but some returning players took longer to hit their stride. Watching a player like Reed Rebstock develop year to year makes PGCC exciting to watch.

"Reed played last year, and at times he struggled. But this year, he's made significant improvements based on the work he put in, in the spring, summer, and fall," Coach Harris said.

"Now he's able to take contact and finish. Last year, he shot around 60% from the free throw line, and now he's shooting close to 80%. And every time he gets the ball around the paint, he's trying to dunk the basketball, and that's what we've been working on all summer."

"I'll say that that's been our biggest bright spot, and he rebounds the heck out of the basketball," Coach Harris said.

Rebstock attributes his successes to none other than his teammates.

"My teammates, trusting and believing in me when the balls in my hands allow me to do my thing and have faith," Rebstock said.

9. Mission: Getting Guys to the Next Level

The Owls are reaping the benefits of their play this season, attracting interest from NAIA and Division I, II, and III schools who are peeking into Novak Fieldhouse.

"I tell the guys, listen, the more we win, the more calls will come in," Coach Harris said. "Everybody will get what they want if we continue to win. We got guys that's getting interest from all levels."

Last year, one sophomore from the Owls received a scholarship to play at Fayetteville State University. A freshman also left to play at Bowie State University, a Division II school located 25 minutes away.

Coach Harris anticipates that many more players will find new homes following this season at PGCC.

10. Exciting Team to Watch

The Owls are a force to be reckoned with.

The hot offense, led by Cooke, Anthony Perry, and Jasir Tremble, averaged 84.3 points per game over 23 games.

"He really changed the game this year and motivated us to be hungry and humble at the same time, and we are striving to make history for real, Perry said. "Coach Harris is everything, he makes sure I play a hundred percent at all times."

PGCC also is poised to be the school's first team to compete for the NJCAA National Championship.

"We're just a hardworking bunch, just trying to get one percent better each day, each game, and continue to build on that," Coach Harris said.

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