ELYRIA — Lorain County Community College women’s basketball coach Tony Naples wants to provide area high school players with an alternative.
He isn’t searching for that stud player that scores 25 points a game, or the 6-foot-3 girl that can handle the ball and finish with either hand.
What Naples is looking for, what he has built his Commodores program around, are the girls that are finishing their high school careers unsure of what they are going to do with their basketball future. He thinks he can help them by making them better players while getting their feet wet academically.
Lorain High graduate Madison Stoyka is a perfect example of what Naples can do. After her senior season with the Titans, Stoyka played at Division II Wayne State for one season. She ended up coming home and enrolling for classes at LCCC, joining the basketball program this season.
After a strong year, Naples is getting calls from coaches at four-year schools to see if Stoyka is interested in continuing her basketball career with them.
“I have four or five schools that are interested in her coming to play for them next season,” Naples said. “Now that we’re at the end of the season we’re going to sit down and go over some things, see what she wants to do and what I can line up for her.”
The LCCC women defeated Point Park JV 56-34 on Wednesday night to finish the season with a 10-15 record. Brookside graduate Gabbly Woods led the Commodores with 18 points, while Keystone graduate Emily Nagy added 15 and Stoyka 10.
LCCC had just seven players on its roster this season, all from Lorain County.
“I like to recruit just Lorain County kids,” Naples said. “I go to all the high school games, I talk to the coaches. I want the girls that aren’t sure what they want to do or where they want to go … or who may not be good enough to get that D-II scholarship or to get money for D-III … to come here and just enjoy playing basketball for an extra year and to get a good education.”
The win over Point Park was Stoyka’s final game for the Commodores.
“The program is a really nice program and I enjoyed playing with all the girls,” Stoyka said. “I learned a lot of new things from everyone and was able to teach them what I knew from playing a year at a Division II school. It was a lot of fun.
“With six players, sometimes five and sometimes seven, it was kind of tough but we all grew really close. It kept us in shape, I’ll say that much.”
Sophomore guard Megan Miller also played her final game for LCCC on Wednesday. Miller was not sure she was even going to play in college, but is glad she did.
“I just came here not even thinking I was going to get to play,” Miller said. “Coach asked me to play and it’s been great. There are so many great girls playing in Lorain County and LCCC could be amazing with all the talent around here.
“It’s a lot more fun in college. Everyone gets along so much better and there isn’t any drama. We do things together as a team all the time, go out to eat and hang out. That’s how we bonded as a team.”
Naples is hoping to build a program while allowing his players to take advantage of what a community college has to offer. He said the economics are a no-brainer for a graduating senior.
“Lorain County Community College can give a kid a great education at a reasonable price,” Naples said. “You can come here for a whole year for under $3,000. Any other place, a four-year school, you are going to pay $30,000 a year. You can get the same education here for two years and save yourself $50,000 in debt.”
At the same time, Naples said his program will give players a taste of what it would be like for them at in a four-year basketball program.
“We’re trying to make the basketball program as big-time as we can at a community college,” he said. “We take some overnight trips, stay in Niagara Falls, Pittsburgh, Columbus and a few other places just to let the players on the team understand what it’s like to be in a big-time program where you get to travel.
“We might play a Friday night game, then a Saturday afternoon game, then try to take them to see some sights. A lot of the kids in our program have never been to Niagara Falls, so it’s great to take them there and expose them to that kind of thing.”