By PAUL HINES
---- — INA — Last week Rend Lake’s mens basketball team was battling in Danville, trying to win a national title.
Wednesday afternoon, the Warriors spent some time enjoying their NJCAA Division II title with their fans.
“(The banner) is going to have Rend Lake College’s name on it because you guys are the national champion,” coach Randy House said. “We did this with toil and effort and faith. We’re going to try to do that again.”
One side of Waugh Gym was packed with hundreds of red-clad supporters. The team walked onto the court to a loud standing ovation.
House spoke of serious topics like faith, trust and love.
“I’ve got six sophomores that I’m not going to be able to coach again,” House said. “That breaks my heart. They’re great kids.”
Woodlawn graduate and Rend Lake sophomore Bronson Verhines took a moment to tease his younger brother Dawson about a quote he made to the media after the national title game and also thanked the fans.
“At the national tournament and the championship game, 80 percent of the fans were probably Rend Lake,” Bronson said.
The Warriors finished the season 30-3 after winning four games in five days at the national tournament. Rend Lake also took the Great Rivers Athletic Conference title with a 14-2 record.
Rend Lake turned Saturday’s title contest into an early rout, building a 20-point lead in the opening half.
“We’re a family,” Rend Lake guard Corey Ayala said. “This family won a national championship.
“I want to thank you for coming out and supporting us.”
The Warriors took away a host of tournament hardwood in addition to the title trophy.
Bronson Verhines was named tournament MVP. Jeril Taylor and Cortez Macklin were named to theAll-Tournament team. Dawson Verhines took away the Sportsmanship Award, and House was named the Coach of the Tournament.