MOUNT CARMEL -- It's been a tremendous season for Wabash Valley College's men's basketball team and their head man was recognized for his team's accomplishments on Tuesday afternoon.
Head men's basketball coach Mike Carpenter was named Great Rivers Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.
The announcement marks the first time since 2013 that coach Carpenter had received Conference Coach of the Year honors. He notably earned Region 24 Coach of the Year honors in 2017 and has 256 career wins in his coaching career.
His Warriors began the season with a 5-4 record following a torn ACL suffered by their leader and returning leading scorer, Marcus Garrett, in just the second game of the season. They bounced back in Garrett's absence and won 18 of 21 games in the new year.
"We started the season about as bad as possible, losing our best player and leader, Marcus Garrett, to a season ending injury, in game #2," coach Carpenter said. "We were 5-4 in our first 9 games, and we could have went straight into the toilet. My staff did a great job keeping them together, and our players starting to click on and off the court. Coaching is more about getting players to "buy in" than anything, and we have good players who bought into playing for each other."
Coach Carpenter credits his assistants, Cornelius Walker, Shea Sumpter and Tanner Morris for a great deal of their success. Night in and night out coach Carpenter praises their devout commitment to breaking down film, preparing scouting reports, among other duties.
"It's nice to receive accolades like this, but in all honestly, this isn't about me," coach Carpenter said. "I've said it numerous times, and I don't care who it offends, but we have the best staff in the Nation at the Junior College level. The amount of hours, and hard work that my assistants Tanner Morris, Cornelius Walker, and Shea Sumpter put in, every day, should not go unnoticed."
Wabash Valley ended the season with a 23-7 record and 16-2 GRAC record, giving them a share of the GRAC Title with John A. Logan. Their success earned them a No. 2 seed in the District 16 NJCAA Basketball Tournament, behind No. 1 seed Vincennes.
Their 23 wins matches the highest total since Wabash Valley's 2016-17 campaign.
Coach Carpenter's Warriors' bid to make the NJCAA Tournament begins tonight against Lincoln Trail at Rend Lake College at 5 p.m. If the Warriors win, they'll be slated to play the winner of John A. Logan and SWIC on Wednesday in the tournament semifinal. A victory in that game would advance the Warriors to the tournament finals on Friday at 7 p.m.