The Laramie County Community College men’s basketball team has one goal on its mind for the 2017-18 season: the Region IX title and a birth in the national championship tournament.
Last season, the Golden Eagles finished 23-11 and 12-4 in Region IX conference play while putting up a solid postseason run. They defeated Sheridan College 93-87 in the Region IX quarterfinals, toppled Lamar Community College 74-70 in the semifinals and fell short to Gillette College 101-97 in the championship game.
“Just like any season, our goal is to make it one game farther in the region tournament and hopefully win the title and play at the national championship,” said Jason Ficca, coach of the LCCC men’s basketball team..
The Golden Eagles will be returning five players from last season. Da’Zhon Wyche (Anchorage, Alaska) was the leading scorer last year with 17.2 points per game. Local East High School standout Elijah Oliver, the third-leading scorer on the team last year with 12.6 points per game while shooting 46.5 percent from the field, will return for his sophomore year. Kyle Wright (West Orange, New Jersey), Landon Taliaferro (Boulder, Colorado), and Isaiah Dicks (Cheyenne, Wyoming) round out the five returning players from the 2016-17 season.
“Just like any two year college, you need to rely heavily on your experienced sophomores and that’s what we will do this year,” Ficca said.
The difficulty in building a consistently successful community college team in any sport is recruiting the right players to replace former sophomores and the roles that they fill.
The Golden Eagles will have seven freshmen on the team this year, and five of those seven are international students. They are Christians Gutierrez (Valencia, Venezuela), Chan Hargraves (Melbourne, Australia), Hayden Collier (Rangiora, New Zealand), Stephane Manzi (Nyamirambo, Rwanda), and Solomon Iluyomade (London, England).
The Golden Eagles got their season underway with a scrimmage against LCCC alumni on Oct. 7. The season will officially begin when they host the Northwest College Trappers at 7 p.m. on Nov. 2 at the Recreation and Athletics Complex.