From beginning to end, the Moraine Valley Community College men’s basketball team tapped into their basketball strengths, leading to a successful season with growth and excitement for the future.

The Cyclones consistently improved all year, peaking at the perfect time. They just happened to face the No. 3 team in the country in the NJCAA Region 4 playoffs to end the season on March 3.

Kyle Huppe took the reins of the program this season after John Chappetto retired. He kept Aaron Green as assistant coach and added Cornelius Crossley to help. They developed just as much as the players.

“I grew a lot and so did the assistants. There were several games we learned something as a young staff,” Huppe said. “It was a great year of growth for the team overall, and we should be even better next year because of it.”

The 2023-24 Moraine Valley Community College men’s basketball team.

The 2023-24 Moraine Valley Community College men’s basketball team.

With a general record of 17-14 and Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference record of 9-5, the Cyclones battled with some tough teams, especially early in the season. They faced nationally ranked Danville Area Community College twice and Milwaukee Area Technical College. Moraine Valley continually improved and edged past Danville in their second meeting of the year.

“In our rough stretch, we didn’t fold. I was proud of that. We kept grinding, and we became mentally tougher,” Huppe said. “We were playing our best ball in February and hit our stride at the right time.”

In their final regular season matchup with conference rival and nationally ranked Waubonsee Community College, the Cyclones were looking for redemption from their narrow loss to the Chiefs in January. They pushed that game into double overtime, demonstrating their resilience and strength.

“I told the guys they’ll hold a special place in my heart as my first team as head coach and how much I appreciate that they showed up every day. From that point, it was a special group,” Huppe said.

The glue and most vocal leader and heartbeat of the team was sophomore guard Javonte McKenzie (Corliss). He earned All-Conference honorable mention. Sophomore guard Enari Thomas (John Marshall Metropolitan) was the most explosive player. He went big in key moments when the Cyclones needed it most. He averaged 20.8 points per game and had six games with more than 30 points, scoring a game-high 37. He finished the season ranked 21st in free-throw percentage (84.9), going 141-166 from the line, and was named to the All-Conference and All-Region first teams.

Luis Acevedo (Homewood-Flossmoor) was a steady, consistent guard these past two seasons, a rock on the court, Huppe said. He earned All-Conference honorable mention. The real beast on the court and someone who got better with every game was sophomore forward Davion Lawrence (Oak Lawn). He was dangerous under the basket, averaging nine rebounds per game with a season-high 17. He earned All-Conference honorable mention.

Among the newcomers who made an impact and should return next season were Amarion Johnson (Tinley Park), Deven Jiles (Richards), Frank DeCarlo (Lincoln-Way Central) and Jayden Martin (Joliet West). Johnson was the big man under the basket. His 6-8 frame helped him block 82 shots, good enough for fifth in the NJCAA Division II and All-Conference second team honors.

Jiles’ athleticism and strength was a force to be reckoned with by any opponent. DeCarlo was the epitome of a “stay-ready guy,” Huppe explained. No matter when his number was called to sub in, he was ready and played well. Martin was one of the strongest players and was hard to get past on the court. He rebounded nearly as well as Lawrence. All four freshmen are expected to return next year along with a few more and additional recruits.

“We’ll keep doing what we do and recruit to our style. We won’t slow down our pace. We want the guys to use and know their strengths,” Huppe said. “I thought it was a good season and am happy with the outcome. We’ll just keep growing.”

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For news media inquiries, contact Maura Vizza, Moraine Valley communications specialist and sports information coordinator, at (708) 974-5742 or