Scottsdale men prepare for basketball playoffs, possible redemption at District 1 Championship

Head Coach Mark Bunker addresses the team during practice.

Jackson Dungan

Head Coach Mark Bunker addresses the team during practice.

Jackson Dungan, Reporter

With the NJCAA Division II playoffs looming, Scottsdale Community College men’s basketball prepares for the postseason and a chance to soothe the wound suffered in last year’s District 1 Championship loss.

The Feb. 17, NJCAA Division II basketball poll shows Scottsdale ranked #16 nationally, two points ahead of Moriane Valley, IL.

Head Coach Mark Bunker, in his sixth season at SCC, told about the biggest factor in the team’s success this season.

“Really, it’s the team chemistry.  I mean, the guys really enjoy playing together.  They don’t care who scores. They don’t care who gets the stats, the assists, the rebounds,” Bunker said.”

Bunker went on to explain that one of the biggest challenges to coaching at the Junior College level is building team chemistry, since players are only together a year, or two at the most.

With only two games remaining in their regular season, Bunker and his Fighting Artichokes only have a few days to prepare before the first round of the Region 1 playoffs begin on Mar. 4.

“We have about seven or eight days (after the season ends) before that first round game,” Bunker said. “We’re so used to playing two or three games a week right now — and it’s been pretty consistent for the last three or four months…having about eight days off in between a game is going to be a little awkward for us. So, just really, really, picking up the intensity at practice.”

Sophomore, point guard Donald Carter III told NEVN how last season’s District 1 Championship loss could motivate him and the team.

“Determination, I want to say. Our approach on coming into the Regional Championship this year and the build up for it. I feel like we’re heading in the right direction as a team, as a group, as a whole, individually, everything. Just basically the buildup, and how the approach goes to the Regional Championship,” Carter said.

Sophomore, forward Chris Orozco talked about this team’s advantage going into the playoffs.

“I’d say that this year’s team was a lot closer with each other and we’re more on the same page…So, I feel like we’re whole this year,” Orozco said.

The Fighting Artichokes host Central Arizona on Saturday, in the main gym of the P.E. building and close out the regular season against Arizona Western, on Feb. 25, in Yuma.