The Lancers’ men’s basketball team kicked off the 2014-15 season with a fourth place finish during the Ventura College We Play Hard Tournament last week.
Despite the team’s youth—they returned just two players from last season’s team—the Lancers went 1-2 overall in the eight-team season-opening tournament from Nov. 6 to 8 and displayed a much more balanced offensive attack compared to last season’s team which finished 21-10.
PCC began the season with an impressive 90-74 victory over Orange Coast College on November 6. The Lancers were led by 6-foot-6 freshman forward Jaryn Taylor who scored a game-high 30 points to go along with 12 rebounds off the bench.
“We have more height than last year, and we have probably more weapons on offense,” head coach Michael Swanegan said. “At Ventura, we looked like just what we are right now, a young team. Once everyone is acclimated to the college level, we can expect to get better.”
In their lone victory over OCC the Lancers also received a valiant effort on both sides of the floor from freshman guard Keith Langston. The 6-foot-5 guard also recorded a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Returning guard Jonathan Henderson added 15 points and freshman point guard Justin Fletcher scored six points and a team-high eight assists.
“We did okay in the Ventura tournament but we have a lot to improve on,” Henderson said. “We have to come together as a team and improve our defense. We were touching too much with our hands and got called for a lot of touch fouls during the tournament.”
In the second round, the Lancers lost to SoCal No. 1-ranked Antelope Valley College 84-64 on Nov. 7. The Lancers were outmatched from the beginning, allowing the Marauders to shoot 53 percent from the field. Despite a much better second half performance, the Lancers were unable to erase a 13-point halftime deficit.
Langston led the Lancers with 23 points, including three 3-point field goals, and six rebounds. Henderson tallied 13 points and sophomore center Faruk Oyalade added 10 points and nine rebounds.
“We have potentially a very strong team this season,” Swanegan said.The Lancers then lost to Palomar College in the third place final on Nov. 8. PCC was tied as late as the final minute of the contest, but could not come away with a victory. Once again Langston was efficient for the Lancers, recording a team-high 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Henderson had his best game of his Lancers’ career, connecting on three 3-pointers for a total of 21 points. Taylor added 10 points and five rebounds off the bench but the Lancers also allowed All-tournament team member Jeremy Franklin to score 17 points and grab 12 rebounds.
“We have to really pay attention on defense,” Henderson added. “Pay attention to the help-side defense and know who the shooters are and keep a hand in their faces.”
The Lancers next play at the San Bernardino Valley Alvin Hunter Classic tournament Friday through Sunday, Nov. 14 to 16. PCC opens against No. 3-rated Saddleback in a 1 p.m. game on Friday.