ROCKVILLE — Montgomery College is headed to the big dance.
The Montgomery College Raptors men’s basketball team earned its way Sunday to the NJCAA DIII Men’s Basketball Championship with an 85-71 victory over the visiting Prince George’s Community College Owls.
The Raptors captured the District VII championship thanks to a team effort and will play in the finals in Loch Sheldrake, New York scheduled for March 15-17. The win helped Montgomery College head coach Keith Byrd secure his first trip to the national tournament and the program’s first since 2007.
Afanna Offor led four Raptors in double figures with a game-high 23 points and Tyran Crawford scored 17 points while Collin Turner and Chris Johnson also had significant contributions.
“To be honest,” said Crawford, a former Seneca Valley High School standout, “I’m not trying to get too up or too down but we’re on a mission and we’ve got to complete that mission.”
Turner, who was named the Maryland JUCO Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Year, finished with 14 points against the Owls.
“It just means so much to me and to my teammates and my coach to keep on building and building and building that legacy at Montgomery College,” said Turner, a Poolesville High School graduate.
Johnson, a Takoma Academy graduate, finished with 12 points against PGCC.
On Saturday, the Raptors eliminated nationally-ranked Sandhills Community College from the tournament with an 85-59 victory over the Flyers.
Johnson, a sophomore guard, scored a game-high 16 points to lead four Raptors in double figures. Ramel Davidson finished with 14 points and Turner added 13 points while Offor scored 10 points for Montgomery College.
The Raptors are scheduled to travel to Sullivan County Community College next week to play in the NJCAA Division III Championship Tournament.
During his tenure at Seneca Valley, Crawford guided the Screaming Eagles to back-to-back 3A state semifinal appearances at Xfinity Center but now aspires to lead Montgomery College to a JUCO national championship.
“I don’t really know how to compare it,” said Crawford, “I just know how to work hard. I know what I want, I know how to win. I want to be a champion. At the end of the day you got to do what you got to do.”