Story by Jenny Connell; photos by Joseph Castillo
In the spring of 2011 five basketball players in their senior year at Trenton High School made a pact to all go to college together and continue playing. They ended up at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s College at Florham.
“It’s the first time we have had five kids, or anyone has had five kids, from one high school to come to a college and play together on a team that I’m aware of,” says head coach Marc Mitchell. “I’m a different kind of coach. I take chances, and sometimes they work and other times they don’t. But, I definitely want to be at the forefront of many things.”
Mitchell’s gamble in recruiting the five women from Trenton High paid off. His team has the best season record ever—22-2 in the regular season—in team history. Most of those wins came from an 18-game winning streak, which is also a first.
“In our program we are striving to do something that just hasn’t been done,” says Mitchell. “We have already cracked the top 25 in the country, which has never been done at FDU. We are one of the best teams in the country and we know it.”
Sophomore Kyra Dayon, also made FDU history last season by recording the first ever triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 steals in one game. Dayon is notably the best player on the team and gives much of the credit of her success to her twin sister, Kara Dayon, and fellow teammates.
“Kara and I started playing with the Trenton girls in 5th grade. We all went to different middle schools, but we used to play against each other and then we came back together in high school and we just clicked,” said Kyra. Kyra and Kara are joined with Robin Peoples, Kamryn Thompson and Quaneshia Harris from Trenton High.
“We are really, really fortunate to get the Dayon sisters, and their Trenton High teammates,” said Mitchell. “Their coach from Trenton High, Coach Reggie Murray, was very much a disciplinarian and laid the groundwork for me.”
This is the first season that all of the players on the roster are students Mitchell recruited. “We are at the point now in our recruiting where we can’t just recruit any kind of kid,” said Mitchell. “We have really good chemistry here, and really good players so we need to bring in that kind of caliber player.”
A win over Eastern University on February 12 made FDU the top seed and gave them home-court advantage throughout the Freedom Conference Tournament. The Devils played their last regular season game on February 16, losing a heartbreaker to Delaware Valley College, 69-67.
On Wednesday, February 20, the Devils will start their playoff journey, hosting Eastern University at 7 p.m. in the Ferguson Recreation Center. A championship victory in their conference would propel them to the NCAA Tournament, which would also be a first for women’s basketball at FDU!