CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi basketball programs, along with the cheer and dance squads and pep band, kicked off the 2011-12 season today in front of nearly 750 fans at Islanders Invasion at the Dugan Wellness Center.
The afternoon opened with a performance from the Islanders cheer and dance teams. Then, after the men's and women's basketball teams were introduced, men's basketball coach Willis Wilson addressed the crowd with a message.
"First of all, I just want to thank everyone for coming out here this afternoon. There are three things I'm going to share with you guys about the team. One, you are going to see a team that's always prepared. Two, the guys are going to play with a lot of intensity. Three, they are a scrappy bunch of Islanders. This is a group of guys that are going to make hustle plays and play their hearts out. But we can't win without you. We need the fans to come out and support us."
The main event started with the three-point contest. Two players from the men's team and two from the women's were each paired with a fan. Freshman Trish Amboree and sophomore Marquesha Anderson-Sparks competed for the women's squad and junior Terence Jones and freshman Jake Kocher represented the men's team. After a tiebreaker in the first round, Kocher and Sparks advanced to the finals with Kocher edging out Sparks in the finals, 5-4. Leianna, the fan who was paired up with Kocher, received a year's supply of Pepsi.
The Invasion continued with a slam-dunk contest, judged by interim athletics director Scott Lazenby, Blue Crew President Brian Quinnifred, student activities coordinator with UCSA Jack Pence, Dan McReynolds from KIII and the first lady of the University, Kathy Killebrew. Senior Chris Hawkins-Mast, freshman Johnathan Jordan, freshman Nate Maxy and junior Jason Smith competed in the event. Jordan led the first round with 136 points on his three dunks and advanced to the finals to face Smith, who finished with 125 points. In the finals, Jordan won with 76 points on a pair of dunks.
The event concluded with scrimmages by both the men's and women's basketball teams. The women's gray team topped the blue team 19-5. Sophomore Brandi Huff and Anderson-Sparks led the gray team with five points apiece.
"We have seven new faces and we are getting the chemistry going," associate head coach Deb Roof said. "We are very excited for the season. There are 29 more days until we tip things off."
On the men's side, the blue team outscored the white team 17-6. The blue team was led by Mast, who finished with seven points. Junior Myron Dempsey and Smith added four points apiece.
There were plenty of other activities for fans to be involved in throughout the event. Fans participated in a cupcake-balancing contest, and Chinaz, the fan who was the first to balance six cupcakes on her forehead, won free pizza for a year, courtesy of Papa Johns.
Season tickets are on sale for both the men's and women's programs. Men's season tickets start at $99 and women's tickets start at $70. Fans can call 825-BALL or click here to order tickets today.