Jamie Morrison won the Coach of the Year award for leading MCLA to the conference championship.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — MCLA's basketball team lost a game in February after half the team was ejected for a scrum with Westfield State University.
Coach Jamie Morrison is proud of that.
"It showed we would protect each other," Morrison said at the end-of-the-season Blue and Gold Luncheon when school officials cap off the most recently completed sports seasons and previews the next. "This group really imbibes a sense of family."
The Trailblazers got off to a rocky start in the 2012-2013, opening with a 3-9 record and then looking at a tough series of road games. At that point, Morrison looked at Salem State's offense and honestly saw a chance that his team would get beaten and beaten badly. But they pulled out the victory, went on to beat Worcester and then Westfield.
"From that point on, we felt like we could beat anybody," Morrison said. "The thing about us is that it could be anybody on any night."
Crediting team play, Morrison's squad went on to finish second in the conference, weave their way through the playoffs and host the championship for the first time in 25 years. That's where the storied season ended. In front of a capacity crowd, MCLA was defeated by Fitchburg State University.
"We know we have unfinished business heading into next year," Morrison said, adding that he wants it to be "the norm" to have the stands filled. "This should be the expectation."
Morrison's coaching earned him the conference Coach of the Year Award. Player Paul Maurice, of Boston, worked his way into the starting roster and won the Rookie of the Year and John Jones, of Worcester, was a first-team all-conference player. Vernon Cross of Colonie, N.Y., and Bilal Shabazz of Schenectady, N.Y., recorded all tournament honors in the Tri-State Shootout.
Jones made the biggest name for himself when he pulled down 26 rebounds against Sage College, a league highest in a single game at that time in the season. Meanwhile, as a "quiet leader" he chip in averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds per game.
Maurice's efforts made their impact in the conference playoffs with strong defensive play and scoring streaks to keep the team in the game. Reaching the starting lineup halfway through the season, Maurice is already eyed to be a major piece of the team's next few years, with Morrison hinting that he could have a chance to become the school's next 1,000 point scorer.
"He had a lot of big games for us defensively," Morrison said. "We're looking for big, big things."
While Maurice could be the school's next 1,000-point scorer, the women's team is saying goodbye the most recent and former Rookie of the Year. Senior Lucy Tremblay, of East Greenbush, N.Y., became the second leading scorer for the program with 1,355 career points. She became the school's fifth 1,000-point scorer while setting another school record. On Dec. 7, 2012, Tremblay put down 39 points against St. Joe's.
Freshman Paul Maurice won the conference Rookie of the Year award.
"Lucy has been a leader in this program since her sophomore year," coach Holly McGovern said. "It's going to be very hard to say goodbye to her."
McGovern called Tremblay one of the school's "greatest players" to ever put on the MCLA uniform. Tremblay also reeled in tournament MVP for the Hoops for Hounds tournament, which MCLA won, and named to the second team all conference. Also reeling in tournament honors was senior Johanna Miner.
But the most important awards to college officials is the 37 athletes — representing nearly 40 percent of the student athletes this season — who won all academic honors. A student must have a 3.2 semester GPA to receive those honors.
"It's a tremendous accomplishment both on and off the field," said Sports Information Director Jeff Puleri.
In 2011, the cumulative grade for the entire women's soccer team was above that, earning a conference academic award. That award was just announced in December, 2012.
The 2012 soccer team was also recognized for a silver ethics award for have less than five cards per year — being the 10th team in 11 years to do that.
With the fall/winter seasons finished, the baseball, softball and tennis teams are preparing for their seasons.
"We look forward to records, accomplishments but more importantly, we look forward to celebrating together," President Mary Grant said. "Communities come together around athletics."