SoCal Playoffs: #15 Men's Hoops Finally Overtake #18 LA Southwest

Deen Abdur-Rahmann makes the defensive play in PCC's playoff win on Wednesday (photo by Richard Quinton).
Deen Abdur-Rahmann makes the defensive play in PCC's playoff win on Wednesday (photo by Richard Quinton).

For 38 minutes, the #15 seeded Pasadena City College men's basketball team trailed #18 LA Southwest and kept the Lancers in catch-up mode during their SoCal Regional First Round matchup.

But like a light switch turned on, the Lancers showed the same type of play that allowed them to reach last year's regional finals as they went on a momentous 14-3 run and pulled out a 72-65 victory before a large crowd at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium. 

The Lancers (19-10 overall) travel to face #2 seed San Diego City College (24-4), the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference champions, Saturday evening, Mar. 2 at 7 p.m.

Against LASW (18-11), PCC fell behind early 18-6 and 39-31 by halftime. PCC's knack for hitting 3-pointers was limited by strong perimeter defense by the Cougars as it hit just five during the game, the second lowest total all season after averaging double that during the 10-game, South Coast Conference North Division schedule (placed tied for second). 

With six minutes to go though, sophomore guards Shant Chenorhavorian and All-SCC First Teamer Deen Abdur-Rahmann hit back-to-back treys that cut it to 58-56.

Behind 62-58, PCC hit the rebounding boards hard and sprung loose with a high-tempo offense to the basket. The run started with a layup and pair of free throws by All-SCC First Team wing Myles Watkins. Two offensive rebounds in a three-shot sequence was capped by a layup by freshman wing Dylan Swillis for the Lancers first lead of the game, 64-62 with 1:59 remaining.

A steal by frosh point guard resulted in a fast-break basket by Swillis. Vazquez hit a jumper, then a block by Swillis produced a fast-break dunk by Watkins for a seven-point lead with 53 seconds left. At the final buzzer, the Lancers players raced over to the other side of the floor to cheer a large group of PCC football players who helped boost the energy in the gym as the team celebrated the comeback win.

Watkins stepped up as he did in last year's postseason as he scored a game-high 25 points with eight rebounds. His ascent on the PCC All-Time Scoring List continued as he is now at 880 career points to move into 18th. Watkins passed James Nichols (1978-80, 876 points) but would need the Lancers to go deeper into the postseason to have any chance of the 17th spot occupied by Kirk Wagner (1987-89), who has 945 points.

"You can throw seedings out the window during the playoffs," Frazer said. "LA Southwest did a great job defensively, but that's also how we were able to come back. Our defense and the way we battled better on the rebounding boards in the second half was the difference for us. Myles, Deen, and Shant really showed veteran leadership down the stretch. Both Dylan and Jalen stepped up as well in those last few minutes."

PCC outrebounded the Cougars, 21-13, in the second half (36-34 overall) with Abdur-Rahmann grabbing six of seven boards (scored 15 points). Chenorhavorian played inspired defense and had nifty ball-handling as he totaled 11 points, six assists and a game-high four steals. Swillis pumped in 14 points (6-for-9 from the floor) while Vazquez delivered four points and nine assists. Frosh guard Kaiden Fine contributed three points, four boards, two assists and a block off the bench.

For LASW, Joel Baez scored 16 points (8-for-10 from the free throw line) and the Cougars bench was huge with 26 of the team's points.

Last year, PCC upset #5 seed San Diego Miramar on the road and hope to perform a similar feat against SD City. The Knights are paced by PCAC MVP KJay Bradley, averaing 17.6 points per game, 5.6 assists and 2.7 steals. 

Frazer has a sparkling 6-1 coaching record in regionals play, including ironically a regional finals victory over #4 seed San Diego City as coach at Mira Costa College in 2022. PCC has a 3-3 record v. SDCC since 1996-97 and the team haven't met on the floor in 15 years.