NWIUNOTES: Honors pile up for SSC men's basketball, coach Pigatti

2014-04-16T18:15:00Z 2014-04-16T20:53:09Z NWIUNOTES: Honors pile up for SSC men's basketball, coach PigattiAl Hamnik al.hamnik@nwi.com, (219) 933-4154 nwitimes.com
April 16, 2014 6:15 pm  • 

South Suburban College men's basketball coach John Pigatti wishes he could laminate the 2013-14 season and display it for all to see.

Maybe an exploding Jumbotron or a sky writer

Forgive his exuberance, but a 31-6 record and seventh-place showing in the NJCAA Division II National Tournament is pretty big stuff.

"The season was one of perseverance for our team, even at nationals when we lost the first game and then came back to win the last three games," Pigatti said.

"The 31 wins was a testament to the character of our team. I am proud of the way they performed on and off the court."

A few of his players are still taking postseason bows.

Sophomore Antonio Levy (Thornton) was First-Team All-America, voted to the NJCAA National All-Tournament Team plus he was chosen Region IV-A Player of the Year and MVP of the regional tournament.

He averaged 20.5 points and 4.1 assists this season.

Anthony Strickland, another sophomore, was named to the Region IV All-Tournament Team.

Pigatti also came away with some high-fives as Region IV and District IV Coach of the Year for the sixth time in his eight seasons at SSC.

He has eight First-Team All-Americans in that time.

Even alumni had its moment in the spotlight.

Former SSC player and Eastern Kentucky senior Marcus Lewis won the NCAA Division I National Dunk Contest in Dallas earlier this month.

The 6-foot-4 Lewis beat 6-9 Baylor center Cory Jefferson in the finals.

"This type of award is unprecedented; it's a really big deal," Pigatti said. "I am very happy for Marcus, not only on winning the dunk contest but for helping his team get to the second round of the NCAA tournament."

Lewis averaged 13.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.5 steals as a sophomore on the Bulldogs' 2011-12 team that finished third in the nation.

He was the third-leading scorer for Eastern Kentucky this season at 9.8 ppg.

PUC lands East Chicago's Santos: Purdue University Calumet coach James Drzewiecki has signed E.C. Central soccer standout Graciano Santos.

“Graciano is a player who reminds us a bit of graduating senior Ahmed Alajmi," Drzewiecki said. "He’s a physically strong, technical player who can join the attack and cause problems for other teams.”

The 5-foot-8 defender was a four-year letterwinner for the Cardinals, earning three straight honorable mention all-area honors. He was a two-time captain for ECC, the team's most valuable player in 2013 and earned a trio of defender-of-the-year accolades.

Needy families get a break: The PUC women's soccer team and its coaches recently volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House in downtown Chicago, helping prepare and serve more than 50 meals while interacting with the residents.

"The experience was very touching for our program," Purdue Cal coach Leslie Ferguson said. "Watching my players interact with some of these families and their children just put a smile on my face.

"It was a tremendous, heartfelt experience and we look forward to coming back next year."

Crimson Wave battles elements, slump: The Calumet College of St. Joseph softball team takes its 11-24 record to Judson (Ill.) University today for a 5 p.m. game.

Its baseball team, now 9-25-1, plays at Timothy Christian College at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

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