Cecil College sophomore and Tri-State Christian graduate Jacob Falko was named Maryland JUCO Conference Men’s Basketball Offensive Player of the Year Tuesday night.
The Seahawks brought home additional hardware as head coach Ed Durham was chosen Maryland JUCO Conference Men’s Basketball Coach of the Year.
Falko averaged 23.7 points per game during his sensational sophomore season.
“Well-deserved. He’s earned everything,” Durham said of Falko’s individual accolade. “It just shows the level of respect from our coaches and how much they respect him. I had talked to a couple of them before the official announcement came out [Tuesday] and they all said the same thing. He was their No. 1 player.”
Falko shot an impressive 62 percent from the floor, including 43 percent from 3-point range. The sophomore guard also averaged a team-high 4.2 assists per game. He surpassed 1,000 career points in February.
“He just works and works. It’s paid off for him,” Durham said. “He’s going to get a scholarship somewhere and somebody is going to be getting a really good player and a really good person.”
On Wednesday, Falko was named Maryland JUCO Athlete of the Month for February. In eight contests, he averaged 24.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and three steals per game. It marked his third Athlete of the Month award this season.
Durham took home Coach of the Year honors for guiding the Seahawks to a 23-7 overall record and 12-1 conference mark to capture the Maryland JUCO regular-season championship.
“Our entire coaching staff made some decisions and moved guys around. It paid off,” Durham said of some adjustments that helped spark a 20-game win streak that lasted three months. “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to our entire staff – Bryan Selby, Mike Jerome and Kendrick Sumpter. They take a lot off of me. While I get recognized, they’re the guys behind the scenes. But in all honesty, you get this award because of the players you have in place.”
Durham called the end of the year – a 78-74 loss to Garrett College in the NJCAA Region 20 Division II Quarterfinals – disappointing, but said the season altogether was a joy to coach.
“What was enjoyable is that they’re just a good group of guys,” he said. “It was fun coming to practice everyday. They’d spend 15 minutes stretching and you could just sit on the side and listen to them talk, laugh, joke with each other, argue about who’s this or who’s that. It was just a fun, very enjoyable year.”
Cecil College freshman Justin Cohen was selected All-Maryland JUCO Second Team.
“He deserves it. He averaged 14 [points] and seven [rebounds] for us,” Durham said. “He made the adjustment, he hit a little bit of a wall for a little bit as most freshmen do. You go from playing 20 high school games and you don’t even start practice until Nov. 15. We start in October and we’re finishing up in March. It’s typical of a freshman to hit that wall. Jake experienced it last year where he went through some struggles just because you’re at it for six months.”
A pair of guards on the Cecil College women’s basketball team were chosen All-Maryland JUCO Honorable Mention. Freshman guard Jayla Smith averaged a team-high 16.1 points per game. Sophomore guard and Bohemia Manor graduate Kayla Thompson followed with 15.2 points per game. Thompson also led the Seahawks with 3.5 assists per game.
Follow Sean Grogan on Twitter: @Sean_CecilWhig