For the first time in Clermont County’s more than 100-year old proud and glorious sports history, a first was recently achieved.
The county can celebrate a college national championship team.
The University of Cincinnati Clermont College men’s basketball team has been crowned the king of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) National Championship Tournament. The Cougars downed Penn State Dubois Community College 81-72 in the title game.
The national championship tourney took place on the campus of Southern Maine Community College, South Portland. The victory brought Clermont College to a final season record of 28-10.
The Red and Black won their conference (Ohio Regional Campus Conference) crown (17-1 record), and the Ohio Regional Campus (ORC) State Tournament and then qualified for the national championship tourney.
"We didn't shoot the ball well, particularly from the three-point range in the national tournament. But the defense stepped up and stopped them," said Hurley.
The Cougars won their first two games in the national championships - 68-57 over New Hampshire Technical College and 84-74 over the host team, the University of Southern Maine Seawolves.
The title contest appeared to be a blow out from the opening jump ball as the Penn State Dubois Lions burst out to an immediate 14-2 advantage and widened it to a 16-point advantage before the men from Clermont began their comeback. By halftime the Cougars were still down by nine, 40-31, but they were beginning their determined rally.
"We dominated them in the second half," said Hurley. "We outscored them 50-32 in the second half."
Hurley believes all of the tough non-conference scheduling and the appearance and experience the Cougars made in last year's championship finals motivated his charges.
Said Hurley, "Last year we were runner-up and got a taste of being here and they liked it and wanted to go back and win it this time."
And they did. Stefan Dunn paced the Clermonters with 24 points, Maurice Brown had 19, Allen Robinson 18, and John Stone 12 against Penn State. Brown and Stone each had eight rebounds, Robinson six, and Clermont Northeastern graduate Brad Hosler hauled down five. Robinson and Brown each made four assists and Hosler made two. The defense limited Penn State to just 28 percent field goal accuracy in the second half.
"When we were down by 16 some of the less experienced guys began to get worried," said Hosler. The more experienced players - Maurice, Stefan, Jeff (Kinney), Seth (Steele), and me didn't panic and the whole team fought back to win."
Hosler comes from one of the county's all-time best families of athletic talent. His uncles Roger and Rick were multi-sport Clermont County League all-stars at Bethel-Tate High School and moved on to become college all-stars Both of the gentlemen are members of the Clermont County and Bethel-Tate high school halls of fame and Brad's dad, Tom, and another uncle, Tim, were also stellar athletes at Bethel-Tate High. Brad actually began his high school basketball career at Milford Christian Academy where he helped lead the Silver and Blue Bulldogs to numerous victories.
"Brad really improved tremendously throughout the year. He was definitely a force inside for us," said Hurley of his 6-foot, 9-inch, 235-pound sophomore center. "He did some damage on the other teams.
"Stefan (6-1 junior point guard from Independence, Ky.) really stepped up and made shots when we needed them.
"Maurice (6-7 sophomore forward from Deer Park) really improved, too. He and Brad were a force to be reckoned with inside."
"I knew I was expected to be a rebounder this year and I had put on another 10 or 15 pounds and I made myself much tougher, bigger, and stronger to not be pushed around," said Hosler who averaged double figures for the year in both scoring and rebounding.
"We felt we needed to win the championship for coach," Hosler said. "He'd lost his wife last summer and she wasn't there to see this and he had tears in his eyes after the game. We really wanted to win it for him."
In the Cougars' other national championship tournament contests, against New Hampshire Tech, Robinson sank 19 points, Brown 12, and Hosler netted 15 points and gathered in 11 rebounds. Opposite Southern Maine, Dunn made 18 points, Steele 17, Stone 14, and Brown and Robinson 13 apiece. Brown also collected 11 rebounds.
Up to the national tournament weekend, the season statistics show that Dunn paced the UC Clermont scoring with an average of 18 points per game, Brown averaged 13.1, Hosler 11.3, and Stone 11.1.
Hosler spearheaded the team by muscling down 251 rebounds, Brown 225, Steele 111, Dunn 110, and Kinney 102. Dunn was the assist leader with 166. Brown blocked 41 enemy shots and Hosler 28.
Hurley, who gained his 800th career victory (the win over Penn State Dubois) on both the high school and college level and his 600th win on the collegiate level only (achieved earlier this year) was assisted with his coaching by Anthony Robertson. Clermont College Sports Hall of Fame member, Peggy Hager was the academic advisor and scorekeeper.
Some of Hurley's incredibly impressive number of career victories include quite a few that were achieved when he was the head boys basketball coach at Milford High School.
The roster of the national champion University of Cincinnati Clermont County College Cougars is composed of Maurice Brown (6-7, 215, sophomore forward from Deer Park High School), Trevor Donald (6-4, 185, freshman forward from Taft High School), Stefan Dunn (6-1, 170, junior point guard from Independence, Ky.), Javon Hammonds (6-3, 193, freshman guard from Northridge High School), Jeff Hicks (5-8, 150 freshman guard from Withrow High School), Brad Hosler (6-9, 235, sophomore center from Clermont Northeastern High School), Jeff Kinney (6-3, 190, sophomore forward from Deer Park High School), Clarence Smith (6-0, 185, freshman guard from Withrow High School), Seth Steele (6-3, 185, sophomore forward from Hughes Center High School), John Stone (5-10, 170, freshman guard from Taft High School), Stephan Tingle (6-3, 160, freshman guard from Roger Bacon High School), and James Thomas (6-3, 185 freshman forward from Newport, Ky., High School).
Following are the results of the Cougars' contests:
University of Akron-Wayne 94-66 W, at Ohio University Eastern 95-77 W, Miami University-Hamilton 94-76 W, at Ohio State University-Lima 87-62 W, at Wilmington 75-61 L, at Hanover Tournament versus Hanover 100-70 L, at Hanover Tournament versus Centre 83-69 L, Miami University-Middletown 64-61 W, at Ohio University-Lancaster 77-49 W, at Ohio University-Chillicothe 97-82 W, at Wabash Tournament versus Wabash 83-51 L, at Wabash Tournament versus Marian 70-54 L, Shawnee State 88-80 L, at Ohio University-Zanesville 82-46 W, at Rose-Hulman 70-60 L, at Thomas More 88-66 W, at Northern Kentucky 94-58 L, at Grove City 87-82 W, at Bluffton 76-74 L, Ohio University-Eastern 117-73 W, Ohio State-Newark 105-69 W, Mount Saint Joseph 83-77 W, at Ohio State-Newark 91-80 W, at University of Akron-Wayne 108-77 W, at Miami University-Hamilton 74-73 L, Ohio University-Chillicothe 92-79 W, Ohio State-Lancaster 98-62 W, at Miami University-Middletown 93-74 W, at Ohio State-Marion 115-57 W, Ohio University-Zanesville 92-57 W, Ohio State Lima 88-65 W, Wright State-Lake 96-81 W, ORC Tournament at Newark versus ? 82-79 W, ORC Tournament versus Miami University-Hamilton 80-67 W, ORC Tournament versus Ohio State-Mansfield 79-68 W, and the USCAA National Championship Tournament.