No Lag At All: Stormers Shine in National Streaming Spotlight

MATC men’s basketball team wins nail-biter against city rival on ESPN+

Mark Feldmann,

February 27, 2023

ESPN+ Game

The quality of athletes playing in this game was superb. I feel we are helping to put MATC on the map not just in our region, but in the nation.

Equan Burrows MATC Dean of Student Experience

MILWAUKEE – Mason Johnson was more than a little amped on Thursday, February 23 after the Milwaukee Area Technical College men’s basketball team beat Bryant & Stratton College, their bitter city rivals.

The second-year player from Milwaukee Public Schools’ Golda Meir High School scored four points in the last 38 seconds to help the Stormers beat the Bobcats, 67-62, in the final regular season game for both teams.

And Johnson did it in front of his excited teammates, in front of a throng of MATC fans in the Bloechl Center at Mount Mary University, in front of his mother, Beverly, who teaches at MATC, and for the first time ever, in front of a national audience who livestreamed the game on ESPN+

When the final buzzer sounded, Johnson flexed his arms, let out a yell and hugged his mother.

“We wanted this to be special for the players,” said Travis Mrozek, MATC’s assistant athletic director and an assistant coach on the basketball team. “Because we got to do this, it's a special year and a special season. But we also wanted them not to play any differently than they would have. I think everyone really loved the experience.”

The National Junior College Athletic Association and ESPN+ in August 2022 announced a deal to televise championship games in football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and softball to air on an ESPN station, as well as livestream regular season content on ESPN+. 

“We would love to do this all over again, but you need to be selected,” Mrozek added. “A lot of things go into that.”

The Stormers, who now have a record of 25-4, and the Bobcats, now 24-6, were both good enough to make their game attractive to ESPN+, Mrozek said. MATC came into the Feb. 23 game ranked 8th in the country among NJCAA Division II teams, while Bryant & Stratton was 18th.

See more coverage on Stormers

Once selected, MATC and Bryant & Stratton worked with ESPN+ to prepare the venue, provide player information and statistics, create advertising for the broadcast, and iron out technological challenges, Mrozek said.

“It was a lot of work, but certainly well worth all the effort,” he said. “It was a big win for our guys and I am sure it will be a special memory they take with them from MATC.”

The game wasn’t picture perfect – both teams turned over the ball too much and missed plenty of shots – but the score was close for almost the entire contest. MATC built an 8-point lead in the first half, but the Bobcats trimmed the deficit to 33-29 by halftime. In the second half the game was tied seven times, with the last being 61-61 with just over one minute left to play.

With 38 seconds to go, Johnson made a jump shot to make it 63-61. After Bryant & Stratton’s Elijah Pickens missed a free throw, Johnson made two free throws to make it 65-62 with 19 seconds left. The Stormers forced a turnover and MATC’s Tarek Abdel Kireem made two free throws with four seconds remaining for the final margin.

“Getting to be livestreamed is pretty exciting,” said Celine Cotton, an MATC photography student who was at the game taking pictures for the MATC Times newspaper. “It’s even more exciting because they won.

“I’m sure the players were all looking forward to doing this and being seen by a whole country,” Cotton added. “I thought it was great.”

So did Equan Burrows, MATC’s dean of student experience, who displayed his school spirit by wearing a bright orange and blue Stormers sweatshirt. “The quality of athletes playing in this game was superb,” Burrows said. “I feel we are helping to put MATC on the map not just in our region, but in the nation.”

Find MATC men's basketball schedule, results and news

Before beating the Bobcats, MATC clinched its third straight North Central Community College Conference regular season championship on February 20 by defeating Madison College, 87-68.

With the regular season completed, the Stormers head to the NJCAA Region 4 playoffs, which start March 2. Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois, will host the semifinals and championship games on March 5 and 11. The seeds and brackets will be determined on February 28.

About MATC: Wisconsin’s largest technical college and one of the most diverse two-year institutions in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy and has provided innovative education in the region since 1912. More than 25,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC offers affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in the community. The college offers more than 170 academic programs — many that prepare students for jobs immediately upon completion and others that provide transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees with more than 40 four-year colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.