ROCKFORD, Ill. — The Eastfield Harvesters will take on the Community College of Philadelphia tomorrow at noon in their first game of the NJCAA Division III Men’s Basketball National Tournament.
“I’m very excited,” Harvesters guard Jacore Williams said. “It’s our first game, but I want to go prove everyone wrong and prove that we are one of the best teams.”
The team arrived at its hotel in Rockford, Illinois, on Monday and had a brief moment to unwind before visiting the site of the tournament. With a rack of balls at their disposal, an empty gym and hard work taking place, the Harvesters felt right at home.
“I feel like we are more confident; I’m more confident,” Eastfield guard Tyler Jones said. “I think we can go out there and show everyone that we can win this thing.”
With their postseason on the line, the Harvesters say they are ready to lock in and take care of business.
The Harvesters finished the regular season ranked ninth in the nation and won the district tournament to secure their spot in the national field. Coach Anthony Fletcher is wasting no time scouting and preparing a game plan for Eastfield’s first-round matchup.
“Gotta play smart and together,” Fletcher said. “No time for back and forth. Even if you’re in a [bad] situation, we gotta stay positive.”
Averaging 100 points a game, 39 rebounds and 22 assists, the Harvesters are set to make their national tournament appearance memorable, but it will be a challenge. The Community College of Philadelphia just finished outside the top 15 in the national rankings but is aiming for an upset.
“They’re here for a reason,” Williams said. “If they feel they can run with us, they’re gonna have to show us tomorrow. My confidence is that my team is gonna win, so I don’t think anybody can run with us.”
The Harvesters are making their first national tournament appearance since 2020. They currently hold the record for most appearances in this tournament for a Division III school as Fletcher looks to add to their tally and pick up some more wins. With their only national title coming in 1997, the team looks to make their mark in this tournament and win it all again.
“It’s a battle every time you hit the court,” Fletcher said. “Conference gets you ready for this moment. It’s gonna be a dog fight. We’re dogs around here, and we’re here for a reason — to win this thing. Win us a trophy and collect some rings.”