March Madness has arrived for the Allan Hancock College men's basketball team. The Bulldogs continue their postseason run at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, at San Bernardino Valley College. The Bulldogs are playing in the program's first regional final since 1990. The college will provide a free, live web stream of the game at athletics.hancockcollege.edu/video/streaming .
"Every college basketball player wants to be a part of March Madness. While we are excited, we are not satisfied just being part of it," said Hancock's fifth-year Head Coach Tyson Aye.
Hancock is the No. 10 seed in the Southern Regional and SBVC is seeded No. 2. Coming off their first playoff win since 2001, the Bulldogs are 22-9 overall, reaching their highest single-season win total in 17 years. San Bernardino is 27-4 overall and riding a 14-game winning streak.
"We've been fully focused this week on the same things we've been focused on all year. And at this point of the season, it's more of a mindset than Xs and Os. The team that plays harder, and plays for each other are the teams that win in March," said Aye.
Last week, the Bulldogs traveled to No. 8 Fullerton and upset the Hornet 70-67 in overtime to capture their first playoff victory since 2001. Devin Davis (El Cerrito) led the way with 24 points and eight rebounds, while Shane Carney (Narbonne HS) and Glenn Jordan (Curtis HS) added 15 points apiece in the victory. Hancock trailed by as many as seven points in the second half, but went on an 11-0 run to take its first lead since the first few minutes of the game. Fullerton, the No. 7 seed, came all the way and led by two points in the final minute. Davis scored the game-tying bucket with less than 30 seconds to go, and the Hornets missed two shots in the final five seconds to send it to overtime. Carney and Jordan both hit three 3-pointers in the game. Carney upped his season total to 95 3-pointers made this season and broke the program record for most career 3-pointers made with 153. Shemarr Parker added six points and five rebounds, while Trenton Mitchell added five points and eight boards.
San Bernardino Valley won the Pacific Coast Conference's North Division with a perfect 10-0 mark. The Wolverines came from behind to beat No. 18 Antelope Valley 87-81 in overtime during last week's regional semifinals. Kevin McNeal made three free throws with two seconds remaining to force overtime. He was fouled on a desperation 3-point shot. Tymoryae Glover led the Wolverines with 27 points and McNeal added 26 points and seven rebounds. Chidi Udengwu pulled down a team-best 10 rebounds and Tuele Williams scored 14 points. SBVC shot 43 percent from the field, went 2-for-13 from 3-point range, but hit 31 of its 38 free throws or 82 percent.
Overall, McNeal, a guard, is the team's leading scorer at 13.5 points per game and shooting 52.5 percent from the field. Kendall Lauderdale ranks second with 12.5 points per game and shooting 55 percent from the field. Craig LeCesne puts in 11 points per game. The Wolverines average 79.5 points per game and limit opponents to a state-best 52.3 points and 36.9 field goal percentage.
Aye describes the Wolverines as one of the most athletic and explosive teams in the state. However, he believes his team will stay true to itself and remain fully focused as it has all season.
"We have an unbelievable group of young men, and they have earned this opportunity to play in the Regional Finals. I also credit our big-time assistant coaches. Collectively, their attitude and effort have been outstanding all year," said Aye. "We are establishing our program as one of the premier programs in the state. We are competing at a championship-level on the court and in the classroom."
Four Bulldogs average at least 10 points per game, led by Carney at 16.9 points. The sophomore guard averages 3.1 3-pointers made and 5.3 assists per game. Davis averages 11.2 points, followed by Jordan at 10.5 points and Spirit Ricks at 10.3 points per game. Both Davis and Ricks average 7.0 rebounds per game.
Hancock and San Bernardino will be playing for the first time since meeting at a tournament hosted by College of the Sequoias in December 2013.
The winner will be one of final-four teams from the South Regional to advance to the CCCAA State Championship Tournament hosted by Ventura College. The final-four teams from the North Regional will also advance to the state tournament. The men's Elite Eight games will take place Friday, March 9. The Final Four games will follow on Saturday, March 10, with the men's state championship game on Sunday, March 11. The women's state tournament will run from Thursday, March 8 through Saturday, March 10 at Ventura College.