The 2019-20 season for the CCBC Essex women’s basketball team ended prematurely with the Knights poised to lay for the NJCAA Division II championship.
The NJCAA tournament, like the NCAA Division I men’s and women’s tournaments, and all spring sports, were cancelled due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
For an Essex program playing its first season in 15 years, it was a particularly bitter outcome to endure.
The Knights were 30-2 and were poised to make a run at the title. Instead, they had to stand down and then have several key players move on to four-year universities.
On the other hand, whenever the next season does get started — sometime in January? — Essex will be ready. Head coach Mike Seney and his staff have not been sitting around mourning what might have been.
An already-impressive recruiting class was capped last week by the addition of a transfer student from the University of Missouri.
Yes, a former Southeast Conference player who was considered a top 100 player coming out of high school (where she scored over 1,000 points in just two-and-a-half seasons) in 2018 will be lining up for the Knights: Brittany Garner, a 6-foot-4 forward from Philadelphia.
Garner’s older brother, Malik, played at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County from 2012-15.
With the situation not working out at Missouri (she played just 80 minutes last season) and Garner looking for a new home, some local connections helped bring her to Essex.
Brittany’s father, Ryan, is the director of the AAU program where Brittany plays. He’s also a Philadelphia legend.
Philadelphia is Seney’s home town.
“I’ve had a relationship with [Ryan] since I was a kid,” Seney said. “He’s sent me a few players in the past few years, and when Brittany decided she needed a fresh start I reached out to him to see if she was interested in a junior college year.
“At Mizzou, I think Brittany just didn’t fit into the system and needed to move on and find a style that fits her and gives her the opportunity to be herself again on the court.”
Obviously, Brittany did not mind a season playing JuCo ball.
“I chose Essex because I feel it is the best place for me to get better while working towards re-entering the NCAA arena,” Brittany said. “An accomplishment I’m looking forward to this season would be regaining my confidence and eventually earning a Division I scholarship.”
Garner will help offset the loss of 6-foot-3 Aislinn Flynn to a four-year school.
“She’s a bit different from Aislinn as she’s more of a dominant layer inside,” Seney said. “But we will allow her to showcase her entire skill set. She is extremely talented all over the court whether it be inside and out.”
Garner is the ninth player Essex has signed for the upcoming season. The other eight are:
Mackenzie Vest of Dunbar High in D.C., a DCSAA All-Star pick; Lillian Harris from Westminster High in Carroll County, where she averaged 20 points a game; Vanessa Schwarzmann from Largo High, where she was All-Price George’s County first-team as a junior and senior; Toyin Allen, an all-state and 1,000-point scorer from Great Mills High;
Ka’lerra Reed, a transfer from Trinity Valley Community College; Tania Hill, a 6-foot-1 transfer from UMBC; Destini Sterting, a 1,000-point scorer from Capital Christian Academy; and Anasia Staton, who was a first-team All-Hudson Valley pick in high school and ranked 24th in New Jersey.