Douglas, Ariz —The 2015-2016 Apaches plan to build upon their previous year’s postseason success. Last year the Cochise men’s basketball team finished the season with a record of 23-11.
It was the first time since the 2010-2011 season that the Apaches claimed the ACCAC Region I Title, beating the number one seed, Mesa Thunderbirds, on the road. The team finished the game off with a great play, led by sophomores Jordan Martin and Daniel Hernandez.
In one of the most exciting games to ever take place at the Stronghold Gym, the Apaches hosted the Region 18 Champions, College of Southern Idaho, for the District I Title. The crowd watched as the Apaches fell short (65-63) to CSI.
Nine days later, the Apaches found themselves at the NJCAA National Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas playing against the #1 ranked team, Vincennes University. The Apaches kept the score close in the first half, but they were ultimately bounced out in the first round. This was the third time the Apaches made the trip to the National Tournament.
Last year’s team also saw three of its players achieve solid accolades. Sophomore guard Jordan Martin earned First Team All-ACCAC and Region I honors, as well as Honorable Mention All-American. Fellow sophomore guard Daniel Hernandez was voted the Region I Tournament MVP, while freshman Brayon Blake earned Second Team All-ACCAC and Region I honors.
This season, Cochise is returning six members of its Region I Championship Team. Point guard Arell Hennings is expected to have a break-out-year as one of the best guards in the ACCAC. Forward Emanual Shepherd will try to build on his success from last season, as the second returning starter from the championship team. Guards Justin Jones and Jawan Stepney will need to step up in place of Martin and Hernandez, from last year’s team, for the Runnin’ Apaches to duplicate its success. Jones, a 6-foot-6 guard from Cyress, TX, has excellent size and shooting ability that was showcased during the District I Title game against CSI. Stepney is a 6-foot-3, athletic jumping jack that played well in his back-up role as a freshman, and he is continuing to improve his all-around game this year.
Jaben Garrett from Turrell, AR and David Blackmon from Clovis, NM are going to help spark the Runnin’ Apaches’ bench. Last season, these two were instrumental in the team’s success during its championship run. Garrett, an ultra-athletic forward, will provide plenty of energy the Runnin’ Apaches need this year. Blackmon’s versatility will allow him to play different positions throughout the year.
The Runnin’ Apaches brought in some young talent to join the team and to help make the run at another title. Freshman guard Brandell Evans, is a scrappy, defensive mined point guard out of Lacey, WA. Cochise also brought in a pair of athletic forwards, 6-foot-6 Chaz Mack from Tucson, AZ and 6-foot-6 Dallas Polk-Hilliard from Milwaukee, WI. Mack is a very slack modifier and an effective multi-dimensional player. Polk-Hilliard is also a very slack modifier, long and improving his skill set.
Fred Porter and Kahri Sloane, both from Las Vegas, NV, look to provide depth to the Runnin’ Apaches’ roster.
The Apaches’ roster is rounded out by local players Cody Wilson from Benson, AZ and Garrett Jackson from Buena High School in Sierra Vista, AZ.
The men’s basketball coaches are extremely excited about the mix of talent and experience brought to the court by this year’s squad.