John Carroll made its first NCAA Tournament appearance in women’s basketball history this season and notched its first win before falling in the second round.
The Blue Streaks spent most of the year ranked in the d3hoops.com top 25, breaking into the Dec. 8 poll at No. 24 after a 5-0 start and remaining there for the rest of the season, peaking at No. 16 in the Jan. 12 poll.
John Carroll ended up with its best overall record (22-5) and Ohio Athletic Conference record (15-3) in program history.
Elyria Catholic graduate Emily Taylor was a big reason why.
The junior started all 27 games and scored in double figures in eight of the team’s final 11, topping out at 20 against Otterbein on Feb. 20. She scored 14 points in each of John Carroll’s tournament games — the first a 74-62 win against Texas Lutheran and the second a 120-86 loss against perennial Division III power Thomas Moore.
“It was a once in a lifetime thing,” Taylor said. “Going to a small school like John Carroll, it was special. We went in knowing we were a good team, but going in everyone was a little nervous because we hadn’t been in the tournament before. Once the game started we got our groove.”
Taylor transferred from Walsh University midway through her sophomore season and at the time wasn’t sure if she wanted to continue playing basketball. She found John Carroll through her cousin, who advised her to pick a school without considering basketball.
Not only did the university resonate with her off the court, but she had a good feeling the Blue Streaks were close to contending. Combine that with the proximity to home so her family could watch her play with less difficulty, and her decision to keep playing was an easy one.
“I played against a lot of the girls who were on the team,” said Taylor, who is majoring in psychology with a track in forensic science. “I knew how good they were. They all went to Lake Catholic, so I knew they had talent on the team. I knew I wasn’t going to play on a mediocre team.
“I eventually realized I only had two years left to play basketball, I figured why not transfer to a school where I can continue to do that because not a lot of people have that chance.”
Taylor is not the only Lorain County alum to play for the Blue Streaks — sophomore Ashley Bastock, an Amherst graduate, was named to the Academic All-OAC with a 4.0 in communications. She played in seven games.
Freshman Tara Kelley, a North Olmsted graduate, also saw action in six games.
“I was excited that people who live close to me decided to come to the same school,” Taylor said. “It’s comforting knowing that people who are around my county come here. Not a lot of people from Lorain County came to Walsh.”
Senior Keene Cockburn and the West Liberty men’s basketball team sealed their fourth straight NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional championship, punching their ticket to the Elite Eight. The North Ridgeville graduate had a double-double in the Sweet 16 with 17 points and 12 rebounds. He also had four blocks.
Cockburn, who had four blocks in the game, set a school record with 77 blocks in the Mountain East Conference Championship game March 9, a 63-60 loss to the University of Charleston. He has since extended that record to 92 over the last three games, including nine in an 86-85 win over Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the second round.
Ohio Wesleyan sophomore Claude Gray scored 23 points in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on March 7, but the Avon graduate’s effort was not enough as St. Norbert defeated the Battling Bishops 87-79.
Lake Erie senior Chloe Irish scored 12 points and added five rebounds and three steals in a 95-48 loss to Ashland on Feb. 27. It was the Keystone graduate’s final collegiate game.
After placing eighth in the platform diving competition at the NCAA Championships on Saturday, Purdue junior MacKenzie Tweardy was officially added to USA Diving’s roster. The Elyria Catholic graduate earned All-America honors with her performance at the championships.
Ohio University junior diver Morgan Srail placed 20th in the 3-meter diving competition with a score of 266.90 at the NCAA Zone C Championships from March 13-15. The Avon Lake graduate also placed 38th in the 1-meter competition with a score of 233.40.
Eastern Michigan sophomore wrestler Jacob Davis went 0-2 in the 174 class at the MAC Championships on March 8-9. The St. Edward graduate and North Ridgeville resident lost to Ohio University’s Cody Walters 5-0 and was pinned by Missouri’s Mike England at 2:53.