JUCO basketball: Warriors dominate ICCAC postseason awards

Mar. 19—OTTUMWA — Coming off the program's automatic bid to the upcoming National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I Men's Basketball National Tournament, seven members of the Indian Hills Warriors were named to the NJCAA All-Region XI team, announced by the league office on Monday.

In his first season at the helm, IHCC head coach Josh Sash has been tapped as the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference (ICCAC) Division I Coach of the Year. The former Warrior assistant coach-turned-head coach guided the program to the NJCAA Region XI championship, the NJCAA North Central District championship, and a No. 5 seed in the upcoming NJCAA National Tournament.

Under the direction of Sash, the Warriors posted a 27-5 overall record on their way to securing the program's 19th all-time trip to the national tournament. Indian Hills boasted a 4-0 record in ICCAC play while capturing the NJCAA Region XI Championship after defeating Southeastern Community College in the title game, the team's third win over the Blackhawks this season.

Sash becomes just the fourth coach in the 63-year history of the program to capture both the NJCAA region championship and the NJCAA district championship in his first year at the helm of the program. The Warriors defeated No. 20 nationally ranked North Dakota State College of Science on Mar. 16 to secure its automatic bid to Hutchinson, the team's 17th all-time district title.

The Warriors garnered three first-team selections to go along with two second-team honors and a pair of Honorable Mention accolades. The seven selections are tied for the second-most in program history while the Warriors earned three first-team selections for the first time since the 2019-20 campaign.

Sophomores Davontae Hall, Trevion LaBeaux and Braden Sparks were named to the first-team while sophomores T.J. Morris and Chris Mpaka were named to the second-team. Freshman William Buegre-Kassi and sophomore Kheni Briggs rounded out the honors on the Honorable Mention squad.

In his second season for the Warriors, LaBeaux collected his second-career All-Region selection after earning Honorable Mention status as a freshman. The forward led the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference with 13.4 points and 10 rebounds on the year, the only player to average a double-double. The sophomore tallied 12 double-doubles this season and was one of just five players in the nation to average at least 13.0 points, 10 rebounds and one block per game while shooting 50.0 percent from the floor.

Along with the NJCAA All-Region XI selection, LaBeaux, a four-time ICCAC Player of the Week, was tapped as the ICCAC Player of the Year. In four regular season league games this season, LaBeaux carried the Warriors to an undefeated record in conference action averaging 13.3 points while shooting 52.9 percent from the floor, 50 percent from three-point range, and 75 percent from the charity stripe while pulling down 9.5 boards per ICCAC contest.

Hall guided the Warriors in the backcourt during his second season at Indian Hills. The sophomore ranked in the top-four in the ICCAC in total points, assists, and steals and was the only player in the league to tally at least 360 points, 90 rebounds, and 90 assists this season. Hall also ranked second in the ICCAC with 49 total three-point shots made.

A two-time ICCAC Athlete of the Week, Hall posted 20 games in double-figures, including a pair of contests with a career-high 22 points.

In his first season with the Warriors, Sparks facilitated the offense as a primary ballhandler for the Warriors. The guard ranked second in the league with 118 assists on the year and was the only player in the ICCAC to tally 100 assists and 100 rebounds. Sparks averaged 11.1 points per game and ranked second in the ICCAC with a 42.5 percent clip from three-point range.

Sparks posted 20 games in double-figures this season, with a career-high 27 points coming in the NJCAA Region XI Championship game where he was honored with ICCAC Athlete of the Week honors.

Morris sparked the Warriors down the stretch in his first season in Ottumwa. The guard has scored in double-figures in the last 10 contests heading into the national tournament for the Warriors and owns an average of 10.6 points per contest this season. Morris landed back-to-back ICCAC Athlete of the Week honors. Morris has tallied 16 total games in double-figures this season.

Mpaka made an immediate impact in his inaugural season for the Warriors. The forward proved to be a force in the paint and ranked third in the league with 8.9 rebounds per contest to go along with 6.5 points per game. The sophomore posted a 57.7 percent field goal percentage this year. Mpaka collected 10 games with double-figure rebounds, including a career-high performance of 22 boards in a win over nationally ranked Moberly Area Community College. Mpaka posted six double-doubles on the year.

Briggs proved to be a scoring threat from all areas on the court and starred from beyond the arc. The freshman led the ICCAC with 53 three-point shots on the year and ranked second in the conference with an 82.8-percent clip from the charity stripe. Briggs posted 18 games in double-figures this year, including a breakout performance with 25 points to lift the Warriors over third-ranked Triton on Mar. 2. Briggs connected on at least four three-point shots in a game six times this season, with a personal-best six treys against Cloud County.

Buegre-Kassi electrified the Hellyer Center throughout the year while slashing to the hoop. The freshman averaged 6.7 points per game for the Warriors while appearing in all 32 contests. Buegre-Kassi posted six games in double-figures this year with a season-high 18 in win over No. 24 Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa on Nov. 28.