Caimans basketball team
                                                                                                                           Photo by Rick Kintzel

Call it “Bronx Madness,” because the Caimans women’s basketball team of Hostos Community College (CUNY) are national champions once again.

On March 16, the No. 1 ranked Caimans successfully defended their NJCAA Division-III title after a 73-63 win over the No. 3 Owens Community College Express (Ohio) at the Arthur L. Scott Center at Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, PA. The victory made Hostos the only NJCAA D-III community college team in New York City history to have captured three national titles in both men’s and women’s basketball combined. Hostos’ men’s team won it all in 2005. Hostos is also now the only CUNY college with a men's and women's national basketball championship.

The Caimans finished the season 29-5, becoming the first team to capture back-to-back NJCAA Division-III titles since Rock Valley College (Rockford, Ill.) in 2012 and 2013. Last year’s tournament win made the Caimans the first women’s community college team in CUNY to win a national title.

Head coach DeVernie Winston said that the difficulty of repeating was not lost on the coaches or players.

“It's a dream that not very many people in the game of basketball don't ever have the opportunity to achieve,” Winston said. “We've done it not just once but twice. It is a testament to the hard work and faith that our staff and student-athletes have committed to the program in the last four years.”

Hostos President David Gómez said he was proud of his student-athletes for their dedication.

“While I’m so proud of their athletic accomplishments, I’m even more proud of their academic achievements,” President Gómez said. “To have a student like Kayla Wilson earn a scholarship to play basketball at Division-I Saint Bonaventure proves they are among the best of the best on the court, in the classroom and in our community.”

After a close opening quarter, the Caimans took a 42-24 lead into halftime, winning the turnover battle, 19-9. Tournament MVP Skydajah Patterson and Regine Blakney each scored 15 points in the victory. Reigning tournament MVP Kayla Wilson, who will play on a scholarship in the fall at Saint Bonaventure, netted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Ellease Billings provided a lift off of the bench adding nine points.

Owens managed to cut the deficit to 23-17 in the second quarter, before a furious 12-2 burst put the Caimans up by double digits. The Express also made a late push and cut the lead to 10 in the fourth quarter, but the Caimans were able to hang on.

“My experience at the national championship was amazing,” Wilson said. “I would've never thought I would win nationals once, but to win twice is out of this world. I wouldn't be able to do this without my teammates and coaching staff and I'm proud to say I am a part of the Hostos legacy.”

While last year’s Caimans team faced the challenge of beating Rock Valley, a former national champion on its own court in Illinois, this year’s squad came into the tournament as the team to beat. The return of Wilson and Patterson helped tremendously, but the addition of 6’6” freshman center Apilyn Bonny, plus the experience from last year’s tournament, galvanized the team.

Overall, the Caimans extended run has been extraordinary. The team has only lost to a D-III opponent once in the last 64 games (Fulton-Montgomery on Nov. 4, 2018) and has only lost one Region XV game in the last three years. (Sullivan – Nov. 3, 2016). Saturday’s championship victory was the team’s 100th since the 2015-16 season.

“My experience at the national tournament was a tremendous one thanks to my teammates and coaching staff,” Patterson said. “We as sophomores knew what it took to win a national championship, so we helped lead our freshmen to an opportunity to have one of their own. I am happy that I could be a part of making history and I will never forget these special moments.”

After capturing the CUNY Athletic Conference title for the third straight season on Feb. 15, the Caimans won the NJCAA Division-III Region XV Tournament as the No. 1 seed. Bonny earned Region XV Tournament MVP, Patterson was named Region XV Player of the Year, and Coach Winston earned Coach of the Year honors. Patterson was aslo named 2019 NJCAA Player of the Year and Coach Winston earned NJCAA Coach of the Year honors.

“The achievement is great but the smiles on the faces of each of our young women will be the one thing that I'll always remember,” Winston said. “They are etched in history on the basketball court and will be doing the same as they cross over the stage in their respective semesters for graduation. What a time to be a Caiman.”
2015-16 - 12-14
2016-17 - 31-4
2017-18 - 28-2
2018-19 - 29-5
Media contact: Rich Pietras - or 718-518-6513