Catalyst Maria graduate Jonathan Brundidge (left) and St. Rita alum Cameron Bartmann pose with the NJCAA National Championship trophy on Sunday as South Suburban College won the title the night before. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Catalyst Maria graduate Jonathan Brundidge (left) and St. Rita alum Cameron Bartmann pose with the NJCAA National Championship trophy on Sunday as South Suburban College won the title the night before. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Area Sports Roundup: South Suburban College wins national title

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff writer

Now for some March Madness that was not as heavily publicized over the weekend …

Area athletes participated in three national championship basketball games on Saturday, and a couple of them can lay claim to being national champs.

St. Rita grad Cameron Bartmann and Catalyst Maria alum Jonathan Brundidge play for South Suburban College, which on March 19 won the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II national championship.

SSC beat Davidson-Davie Community College (North Carolina) 79-63 to win the title at Mary Miller Gymnasium in Danville. The Bulldogs finished 33-0, becoming the first school in NJCAA Division II history to go unbeaten. It’s happened five times in NJCAA Division I and five times at the Division III level.

Bartmann, a 6-10 sophomore, started and had two rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal in the title game. Brundidge, a 6-7 sophomore, came off the bench at the end of the game.

“This was everything I thought it was going to be and more,” said Bartmann, a transfer from Augustana. “An undefeated season. It was everything I could have dreamed of.”

“It felt good to be out there,” said Brundidge, a transfer from Governors State. “Everybody was happy.”

Neither player is sure what their future in basketball holds, but they hope to hear soon from four-year colleges.

“Winning a national championship carries a lot of weight,” Brundidge said.

 

Just Short
Morton College’s women’s basketball team finished second in the nation in NJCAA Division II, losing to Kirkwood (Iowa), 49-44, in Port Huron, Michigan. Both teams came into the game averaging more than 80 points per game.

Nazareth graduate Jovanna Martinucci and former Argo star Tadriana Heard, both sophomores, were key players for the Panthers, who ended the season 30-3. Heard was named to the all-tournament team.

To get to the title game, the Panthers hit 18 3-pointers in an 84-72 victory over CCBC Essex of Maryland in the semifinals. The victory snapped Essex’s 34-game winning streak.

It was the first time in Morton College’s history that any of its athletics teams made it to a national championship game.

Elmhurst College’s men’s team, meanwhile, took second in the nation in NCAA Division III, dropping the title game, 75-45, to Randolph-Macon College (Virginia) in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Former Mount Carmel star Jake Rhode, the Caravan’s all-time leading scorer, finished with nine points. Former Sandburg player Jack Walsh and Nazareth alum Tagen Pearson are also on the team.

Can the area get another athlete in a championship game?

Indiana University of Pennsylvania is in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight, which was scheduled to start on Tuesday in Evansville, Indiana.

Former Sandburg standout Tommy Demogerontas, who played at Moraine Valley and Northern Illinois, is a key contributor averaging 10.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

 

All-Staters
No area players made the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association’s first-team all-state teams for 2021-22, but there were some that made second and third teams, plus some honorable mentions.

In Class 4A, Lyons senior Tavari Johnson was a second-teamer while Riverside-Brookfield senior John Paul Hanley, Brother Rice junior Ahmad Henderson and St. Rita sophomore Morez Johnson each made the third team. Of the 36 players on the first three teams, Johnson was the only sophomore.

St. Rita’s James Brown, Curie’s Jeremy Harrington, Oak Lawn’s Davion Lawrence and Marist junior Xavier Sulaiman received special mention.

In Class 3A, Mount Carmel junior Deandre Craig made the second team while De La Salle senior DaJuan Bates was named to the third team.

Solorio senior Donovan Jones was named special mention.

 

National Treasures
Marist’s boys volleyball team was ranked 14th in the nation in a recent list by USA Today/American Volleyball Coaches Association.

But don’t shine up a state championship trophy just yet for the RedHawks. Out of the top 15 nationally ranked teams, five are from Illinois. Barrington is ranked fifth, Glenbard West sixth, Hinsdale Central 13th and Lincoln-Way East 15th.

Marist and Lincoln-Way East could be on a collision course this weekend in Marist’s 24-team invitational.

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