Published on March 27, 2023
The John A. Logan College Men’s Basketball team captured the program’s first national title on Saturday in a thrilling come-from-behind victory over defending champion Northwest Florida at the NJCAA National Tournament in Hutchison, Kansas. The victory was the 31 straight win for the team under first-year head coach Tyler Smithpeters.
Sophomore Quimari Peterson was named tournament MVP, and Curt Lewis and Isaiah Stafford were named to the All-Tournament Team. Coach Smithpeters was named the Outstanding coach. In his first year as a head coach, Smithpeters guided the Vols to a 33-2 record. In addition to his national coaching honor, he was named the GRAC and Region 24 Coach of the Year.
Smithpeters never doubted what his team could accomplish.
“These guys believed that they could win a championship, and throughout the season, they never lost that focus,” said Smithpeters. “No matter what situation they have been in, they have kept their composure and found a way to win. They deserve all the credit and have been a pleasure to coach.”
Center KJ Debrick carried the pain of losing last year in the tournament with him throughout the season, and his clutch play down the stretch in both the semifinal and championship games helped propel the Vols to victory. With less than a minute left, Debrick dove to the floor to save the ball from going out of bounds. The play resulted in Debrick scoring while getting fouled and making the ensuing free throw. The Vols held a three-point lead with seconds left as their defense held NW Florida to desperation three that missed the mark as the seconds ticked away.
The team was welcomed back to Carterville on Sunday by over 200 supporters and police and fire department escorts. As Smithpeters and players mingled with fans, he told local media members that the moment with fans was what the whole season was about.
“This is what it is all about,” said Smithpeters. “Our players have connected with these fans all year, and they all deserve this the players, the fans, and the entire College.”