Owens WBB Dominates OCCAC Postseason Awards, All-Conference Team

From left to right - Essence Cowan, Brenda Pennington, Jeryn Reese and Ariel Bethea
From left to right - Essence Cowan, Brenda Pennington, Jeryn Reese and Ariel Bethea

By Nicholas Huenefeld/Owens Sports Information

Toledo, Ohio---Owens Community College women's basketball sophomore forward Jeryn Reese (Mansfield/Mansfield, Ohio) became the program's first two-time Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) player of the year as the conference released its all-conference team and postseason awards for this past season.

In addition to Reese's honor, sophomore guard Ariel Bethea (Huron/Ann Arbor, Mich.) was named the OCCAC defensive player of the year, and head coach Michael Llanas earned his third consecutive OCCAC coach of the year award. Essence Cowan (Lima Senior/Lima, Ohio) earned a spot on the OCCAC's All-Freshmen team. Along with those three players, Brenda Pennington (Bishop Noll/Hammond, Ind.) also earned a spot on the all-conference team.

Reese was also named the Region XII District I player of the year for the second consecutive season. Along with Bethea, she gave Owens two First Team All-OCCAC selections for the third consecutive season - joining Reese and Lakyn Gulley in 2015-16 and Sierra Harley and Ashley Tunstall in 2014-15. Reese also becomes the first two-time First Team All-OCCAC selection from the Owens women's basketball program since Ashley Tunstall (2013-15).

In fact, Reese's OCCAC player of the year selection gives Owens three straight seasons with the conference's top individual honor. Sierra Harley won the award in 2014-15.


Reese averaged 14.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.2 steals, 1.6 assists and 1.4 blocks per game over 16 conference games in just 27.1 minutes per contest. She finished eighth in scoring, third in FG percentage (51.9), second in FT percentage (84.2), sixth in rebounds, third in steals and fifth in blocks.

Reese, who was one of only three players in OCCAC play to average a double-double, had eight double-doubles in conference play, including a high of 17 rebounds on Jan. 14 against Columbus State. She had a conference-high 24 points against Sinclair on Feb. 11.

Reese finishes her career at Owens as a two-time First Team All-OCCAC selection, a two-time OCCAC player of the year and a two-time Region XII District I player of the year. She has a good chance at becoming a two-time NJCAA All-American when those awards are announced in another week or two.

Reese has signed with NCAA Division I LaSalle University.


Bethea, who led the conference and the nation in steals despite averaging just 21.6 minutes per game, joined Reese as a First Team All-OCCAC selection after averaging 13.6 points, 5.3 steals, 3.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 2.6 assists per game in OCCAC play. She shot 90-for-195 (46.2 percent) from the field and 27-for-35 (77.1 percent) from the foul line.

Bethea, who finished ninth in the conference in PPG, scored a season-high 28 points in a win over Columbus State on Jan. 14. She had at least six steals in 10 of 16 conference games, and she had at least five steals in 12 of those 16. 

This season was the first time the conference awarded a defensive player of the year, thus giving Bethea's selection an added bit of history.


Along with her OCCAC All-Freshmen team award, Cowan earned Second Team All-OCCAC recognition. In just 22.9 minutes per game in conference play, she averaged 11.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, two assists and 1.8 steals per game. She scored a season-high 25 points in a win over Lakeland on Feb. 22, and she started 15 of 16 games in conference play.

Cowan, who finished 15th in the conference in PPG, led the conference in 3-point FG percentage by finishing 47-for-109 (43.1 percent) over those 16 games. She also made 13 of 17 at the foul line (76.5 percent).


Not only did Owens have the conference's leader in steals and 3-point field goal percentage, but they also had the conference's top assist producer in Pennington, a freshman point guard who averaged 10.9 points, 6.3 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals over 16 conference games in just 24.6 minutes per contest. She finished with an even 100 assists in OCCAC play.

Offensively, Pennington shot 73-for-142 (51.4 percent) from the field and 26-for-33 (76.8 percent) from the foul line. She finished fourth in FG percentage and 21st in scoring in conference play.


Llanas led Owens to a 30-0 regular season, including a perfect 16-0 record in OCCAC play to win his third straight conference coach of the year award. It was the first undefeated regular season in program and college history, and he has now led the program to three consecutive perfect conference regular seasons, including 50 straight regular season wins in conference play.

The award is the fifth in the past seven seasons for Llanas, who also won the award in 2006-07. In fact, Llanas has now compiled a 325-97 (.770) record in 13 seasons at Owens, including a 143-29 (.883) record in OCCAC play.


Reese and Bethea were also recently named Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-Americans. That story can be found here.

The Owens women's basketball team completed the first undefeated regular season in college history in 2016-17 before finishing with a 31-1 record. Their season ended with a loss to Cincinnati State in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Region XII District I championship game. Prior to that, though, the team completed its third straight perfect conference regular season and captured its fifth straight Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) championship en route to its undefeated regular season.

Furthermore, Owens produced a single season team record 11 games with at least 100 or more points. They also led the team in breaking six single season team records - fewest losses (1), 2-point FG percentage (50.5 percent), FT percentage (74.8 percent), steals (590), PPG (92.9) and PPG allowed (46.4). They tied the record for longest overall winning streak with 33 and extended the records for consecutive regular season wins to 44 and consecutive regular season conference wins to 51.

On top of that, as a team, Owens led the conference in total points (1,478), PPG (92.4), FG made per game (36.1), FG attempts per game (80.6), 3-point FGs made per game (7.1), 3-point FGs attempt per game (21.6), 3-point FG percentage (32.7), FT percentage (74.6), offensive rebounds per game (21.3), total rebounds per game (51.7), assists per game (22.3), steals per game (19.6), blocks per game (7.3), PPG allowed (46.0), opponents FG percentage (28.3) and opponents 3-point FG percentage (20.2).