Lee College Basketball 2021-22 Season Ends at NJCAA

The Lee College Runnin' Rebels
The Lee College Runnin’ Rebels

“Although endings are always tough, there is so much to be thankful for,” said Nicholas Wade, head coach and Lee College athletic director. “This was a season of firsts in several ways: First Region XIV South Zone Championship, most wins in a single season in school history, and it was Lee’s second trip to the national tournament, (and its first) since 2013.”

The Lee College basketball’s 2021-22 season came to a historic end at the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) championship in Hutchinson, Kansas. The team closed out the season in the first round of the tournament with an 82-83 loss to the Snow College Badgers – in overtime.

The NJCAA championship tournament is known as the March Madness of community college basketball. Despite yesterday’s loss, Wade says he and his players have felt the Lee College community’s love and support throughout their entire journey.  

“This is a platform on the biggest level. It’s really special we are able to do this, and we are hoping it’s not just a one off,” added Wade, who has been head coach for six months. “I think with what we have at Lee College and what we are building, we can always compete at the highest level. This is the first step in a very young team trying to get that done.”

In addition to “dancing” in the NJCAA, Wade points out his star players achieved additional accomplishments throughout the season. Kyron Gibson, Chance Brown, Darius Smith and Mario Whitley were recognized in the First Team All-Conference, Second Team All-Conference and All-Tournament Team.

“This season was a tremendous building block academically and athletically for our students,” Wade added. “We can’t wait to take another step forward next year!”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

More than 900 ‘Pack The House,’ ‘Rock The Red’ for Runnin’ Rebels

"Pack the House," "Rock the Red" game at Lee College
Rooty the Rebel runs along the sideline to pep up the crowd as the Runnin’ Rebels take on the Angelina College Roadrunners in the “Pack The House, Rock The Red” game held Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Lee College Sports Arena. More than 900 fans turned out for the game, which was promoted as a joint effort between the college and city of Baytown. (Photo: Sheree Cardwell, Baytown Tourism)

BAYTOWN, TX — What started as a joint effort between Lee College and the city of Baytown to pack the house for Runnin’ Rebels Basketball ended last weekend with more than 900 fans rocking their red and filling the Sports Arena to cheer on the team against a conference opponent.

Along with the action on the court between the Runnin’ Rebels and the Angelina College Roadrunners, fans at the first-ever “Pack The House, Rock The Red” game enjoyed a lively atmosphere that included games, contests, music, raffle giveaways and the chance to sink a half-court shot for a $500 prize. All attendees aged 18 and under received free entry into the game, as did anyone who brought two canned goods to contribute to the team’s ongoing drive to feed the hungry in the local community. Attendees aged 19 and older received discounted $2 entry for wearing red.

Head Coach Roy Champagne thanked Kevin Troller, assistant city manager for the city of Baytown, for envisioning and promoting the campaign to sell out the Sports Arena in support of Lee College basketball.

“He simply was a fan that felt we had a good product in a great venue,” said Champagne, who has coached the Runnin’ Rebels for more than two decades and made it a priority for his athletes to give back to and connect with the community. The team has completed more than 530 hours of community service since August 2016 and donated thousands of canned goods to local food pantries.

“Our fan base has grown over the last four years,” Champagne said. “Hopefully, many of the fans that came out to ‘Rock The Red’ will decide to attend more frequently.”

Next up, the Runnin’ Rebels will hit the road for an away game against Jacksonville College before returning to the Sports Arena Wednesday, Feb. 8, to take on Blinn College. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

A full schedule for the 2016-17 basketball season and a team roster are available online at www.lee.edu/athletics/basketball.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Runnin’ Rebels hometown duo hopes to play basketball at NCAA Division I level

BAYTOWN, TX – As Baytown natives who grew up playing in local youth basketball leagues and thrilling fans on the court as Goose Creek Memorial High School Patriots, Lee College Runnin’ Rebel Basketball teammates Javonte Cooper and Julian Powell can easily find common ground with the children they meet and mentor in the community.

“These little kids come from the same place and see themselves growing up to be us, and we can see ourselves in them,” said Cooper, who relished the challenge of playing football at Goose Creek Memorial but always had a natural talent for basketball that led him to Lee College. “I tell them to be better than me. Stay on top of your grades and sports will take care of themselves.”

Powell, who rode motorcycles and dirt bikes as a child before trading boots for basketball shoes, shares similar advice with his siblings and the other young people who look up to him: “Learn as much as you can. You can achieve your goals if you put your mind to it.”

Now in their redshirt sophomore seasons with the Runnin’ Rebels, Cooper and Powell are looking forward to reaching their own goal of advancing their basketball careers at an NCAA Division I college or university. Both have battled to earn playing time on a talented team and mastered the more complicated schemes and game plans used at the collegiate level.

Their hard work will be on display this Saturday, Jan. 28, when the Runnin’ Rebels take on Angelina College at the Sports Arena on campus. The team is hoping fans will “Pack the House” and “Rock the Red” for the game, filling the 1,500-seat arena and helping collect thousands of canned goods to feed the hungry in the local community. All fans 18 and under will receive free entry, along with anyone who brings two canned goods. Fans aged 19 and older that wear red will pay $2, while those who do not wear red will pay $5. Tip off is at 6 p.m.

Moving on to a bigger and better basketball program will likely also mean moving away from Baytown, where Cooper and Powell have been able to enjoy the comforts of home and familiar surroundings while adjusting to the rigors of life as a college student-athlete. In addition to a full slate of classes, practices and games, the Runnin’ Rebels have completed more than 530 hours of service to the local community since August. Cooper is also a founding member and president of Reaching Excellence Against Limitations (R.E.A.L.), a student organization that aims to educate and empower black males on campus.

“Playing for Lee College helps me look out for my mom and brothers,” Cooper said. “I’m not long distance so I can reach out and get to them if they need me.”

But creating a brighter future for their families is also why chasing the dream of a professional basketball career is so important.

“My family keeps me motivated,” Powell said. “I want to take care of them.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.