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CFCC heads to national basketball tournament

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- College basketball teams from the state of North Carolina have a rich history of success, but there's never been a team from the Tar Heel State to play in the championship game of the National Junior College Tournament. Cape Fear Community College hopes to change that next week.

Wednesday in Hutchinson, KS, the CFCC basketball team will play Tallahassee Junior College in the first round of the tournament. The Sea Devils sports a 24-7 record.

Cape Fear played in the national tourney two years ago, but came up short. Nobody on that team is on this year's team.

"We learned a lot from our experience two years ago in regard to things off the basketball court, banquets, etc." CFCC coach Ryan Mantlo said. "We need to focus less on that in order to spend more time on the games we play."

CFCC forward Vernon Payne said, "I think right now we're kinda under the radar, because we're not going in ranked."

Cape Fear has more than its fair share of local flair on the roster with Rakeem Wilson, Tristan Harris and Antwan Bosier. But clearly the man who makes this team go is Tavares Speaks. He's the first Region 10 Basketball Player of the Year in the history of the school.

"I was like, woah, it's crazy," Speaks said.

Friends of the college held a send-off for the Sea Devils Friday at the Schwartz Center in downtown Wilmington. Former UNCW head coach Jerry Wainwright even showed up to provide a few words of wisdom.

"I really have a great empathy for what you're going through for two reasons, because I was highly recruited in high school," Wainwright said.

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