Faculty, staff, students and fans came out to salute the 2014-15 Holmes Community College men's basketball team this afternoon in Frank Branch Coliseum on their history-making season.
The Bulldogs, who finished the season at 25-7, captured the MACJC North Division title and the Region XXIII title before going to the NJCAA National Tournament in Hutchinson, Kansas and making it all the way to the Elite Eight in the national tournament. The trip to NJCAA Tournament was the first-ever for the men's program at Holmes. The team was also second in the MACJC State Tournament.
The 14-member team, five managers and Head Coach Jason Flanigan and Assistant Coach Jason Harrison were announced to the crowd.
"It's a great day to be a Bulldog," Flanigan said. "This right here is a wonderful feeling. These guys mean a lot to me and to Coach Harrison.
"This is what it's all about," he said. "This is why I got into coaching to have a special year like this and then have a celebration at the end. History was made in Goodman, Mississippi."
Flanigan thanked all the sports teams for their support throughout the season along with the diehard Bulldog fans especially the ones who traveled to the away games. "It's a wonderful feeling when you go on the road when you have people in your corner," Flanigan said. "Thank for all the support you've blessed us with all season long. I love y'all and will never forget y'all."
Flanigan said before the season he told the team if they took it day by day and week by week something special would happen for them. "I told them we were going to write a book and call it 'Bulldog Strong' --- strong in the mind and strong in the body. I told them to stay on the same page. It could be a top seller or sit on the shelf. I think this book was a top seller. Each chapter was very special.
"We took it week by week and day by day, and we made history," he added. "They believed and stayed on the same page, and they never got off the path. I thank the Lord I was part of their lives, and we experienced something like this. This does not happen all the time. It's a reason that this happened, and it's not because of Coach Harrison and I. It's not because of these guys. It's because the Lord was on our side. I'm not crazy, the Lord was on our side. We've been dealing with adversity since I've been here, but this year we had no adversity. The Lord blessed us with a special group."
Flanigan and the players were honored for their individual honors as well which included: Region XXIII, MACJC and District Coach of the Year, Jason Flanigan; NJCAA All-Tournament Team, NJCAA Region XXIII Player of the Year and First Team All-State, Daryl Macon; V.C. "Bud" Obee Small Player Award from the NJCAA Tournament and MACJC All-Star, Jarvis Williams; and First Team All-State and MACJC All-Star, Marcus Washington.
"It's been a wonderful season," Flanigan said. "I wish every coach could experience it. These guys up here have been working and doing what we've asked throughout the season, and I'm proud of them. Before one game, I told them I'm in debt to them for the rest of my life."
Holmes Community College Athletic Director Andy Wood congratulated the team on their season and also shared a note from the head of referees from the national tournament. "How impressed I was with your coaches and players. They listened, played hard, had sportsmanship and were a team," the letter said. Also the letter commended the Bulldogs on how well-coached they were.
"And that's what everybody says," Wood said. "Everybody that's here who saw them play knew they played hard every time they came out on the floor and earned everything they got. It was a special thing for them to go to Kansas and show where Holmes Community College is."
Photo by Susie Jackson