As Roary brings new excitement and a renewed campus spirit, the Community College of Philadelphia Lions are showing the city that gritty teams that play together, win together.
This fall, the men’s and women’s basketball teams at CCP have displayed endurance, courage, athleticism and a hunger for victory.
Much is at stake right now, as the Lions are garnering both local and national recognition.
The women (10-3) face off at noon Sunday, Dec. 15, at home against Southern Maine Community College. Southern Maine is a basketball powerhouse, ranked first in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA).
The men’s team (12-1), which moved up three spots this week and is now ranked seventh among the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCCA) Division III colleges, faces off at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17 at Manor College. Admission is free.
“We are off to a good start,” men’s basketball coach Joe Rome said. “We are pretty talented and athletic. . . The guys seem to be playing well together. They like each other.” Leading scorers include guard Tyreek Johnson, averaging 17 points per game (ppg); forward Cameron Gardner (10.8 ppg) and forward Jordan Smith (10.7 ppg).
Kenyatta McKinney, the head coach for the women’s team, said he has rotated six players for much of the fall, but the women are well-conditioned from workouts in the weight room. Two new promising players are coming on board and will play next semester.
Collectively the CCP women rank first nationwide in their division in terms of total points scored, collecting 997 points. Their pressure defense and athletic skills have taken them to the top of the leaderboards of Division III. CCP forward Cassandra Colon currently is the third-leading scorer, collecting 304 points this season. Teammate Cyanie Hull-Smith ranks sixth in the nation, with 232 points scored. Center Aminata Gackou ranks first in total rebounds (162) and second in blocked shots, averaging 4.2 blocked shots a game.
The talent runs deep on this team. On Nov. 21, guard Elan Wali was named the conference’s Player of the Week, after picking up 19 points, 23 rebounds, 10 assists, 6 steals and a block against rival Valley Forge. Wali also had 15 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 steals against Lehigh Carbon in the prior week. On Dec. 11, Colon was named player of the week after foraging 52 points, 19 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and one block in her last two games.
After some early losses, CCP’s women are riding a five-game winning streak and showing chemistry on the court, McKinney said. “We have a family environment,” he said. “The young ladies care for each other. We want people to come out to see us. They are entertaining and they play hard.”
Athletic director Rogers Glispy said the Lions are living up to their new name — and working hard for their pride.
“Our players are dreaming and both teams have certainly set lofty goals for themselves,” he said. ”I've had the pleasure of witnessing their work over the off season and into this semester. I would call on the entire college community to come out and see these great student-athletes perform as they work towards their goal.”