Role Players Step Up In Men's Hoops Consolation Title Win At SRJC

Nurridin Abdur-Rahman fires off a shot in the Lancers win at Santa Rosa JC on Saturday (photo from NorCal TV broadcast).
Nurridin Abdur-Rahman fires off a shot in the Lancers win at Santa Rosa JC on Saturday (photo from NorCal TV broadcast).

The work in progress called the 2022-23 Pasadena CIty College men's basketball team continues to make waves after winning the consolation title at the Santa Rosa Junior College Kris Kringle Classic Dec. 15-17. The Lancers are 7-2 in the last three tournaments and 8-6 overall under first-year head coach Ryan Frazer.

On Saturday, PCC didn't have top scorer/rebounder Jonathan Tchengang available due to a scheduled family commitment and then played perhaps its best 40 minutes of the season. All 11 players scored, including an impressive 30 points from the bench in a 69-55 win over host Santa Rosa.

Four reserves--Shant Chenorhavorian, Brandon Torimaru, Caleb Gerber and Jordan Flowers--each bombed in two 3-pointers each. In all, Pasadena made a scorching 46.2 percent from beyond the arc, hitting 12 of 26 long-range baskets. 

Reserve post player John Parmeter-Zapata scored on a putback with 1:38 left in the first half that capped a 12-2 Lancers run. When starting guard Myles Watkins made a driving layup 7:25 into the game, the Lancers took a 12-11 lead and never relinquished it. 

Watkins finished with 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals while fellow starter Rande Harper added 11 points. Nurridin Abdur-Rahmann, starting in place of Tchengang, contributed eight points, six boards, and two steals. 

Court leader and point guard Jayden Winfrey has been quietly a big factor in the Lancers resurgence this season, averaging 32 minutes a game. He totaled four points and team-highs in rebounds (11), assists (six) and steals (three) against the Bear Cubs. The reserves were paced by Chenorhavorian with eight points and Brad'n Archer scoring two points with four rebounds. 

"Seeing everyone contribute in the final two games here was huge," Frazer said. "On the third day of a tournament, you definitely can use help from guys who may not play as much and are fresh and eager to play."

On Friday, the Lancers trailed Foothill, 38-36, at halftime and 52-48 with 12 minutes to go, but rallied to beat the Owls, 72-62. The comeback was spurred by Abdur-Rahmann, who came off the bench to hit a jumper and followed it with a corner 3-pointer for a 60-55 PCC lead with 4:27 remaining. A redshirt freshman wing from Atlantic City, N.J., Abdur-Rahmann scored all 11 of his points in the final six minutes. 

"I thought Deen really took advantage of the opportunity he was given and made huge plays for us," Frazer said. "He is the type of player who is capable of doing that every night, so now we just need him to be consistent. He handled the starting role on Saturday well."

Sophomore transfer center Nigel Wilson had a huge performance in scoring 20 points (9-for-13 from the field), grabbing his season-high of nine rebounds, with three steals and three blocks. Harper added 14 points, including three treys, Chenorhavorian chipped in eight points, five assists and five steals while Tchengang scored 10 points.

Tied for second in the state in helpers (5.9 average), Winfrey distributed 11 assists against Foothill to go with two points and two steals. Watkins was a rebound machine, grabbing a team season best 15 rebounds with seven points.

In the tourney opener, PCC nearly upset state #16 College of the Redwoods, controlling play for the first 35 minutes only to falter down the stretch in a 70-58 defeat. The Lancers opened a 14-6 lead on a Harper bank and Tchengang's corner triple gave them a commanding 32-22 halftime lead. The Corsairs fought back but PCC held its own with a Wilson layup that gave PCC a 56-54 advantage with five minutes to go. 

Redwoods' guard Jett Cheong, who was perfect on 3-pointers on five attempts, completed a 4-point play but Tchengang responded by getting a Winfrey alley-up pass for a basket that tied it at 58-58. The last four minutes was all Redwoods as the Corsairs scored the game's final 12 points, six on free throws. 

PCC made some history as the team was not awarded a single free throw attempt (Redwoods 11-for-12 from the line), a rare feat that is the first in modern Lancers history and positively hasn't occurred since at least 1990. Watkins scored 14 points, Tchengang 11 points (and eight rebounds), Harper 9 points, Winfrey six points and seven assists, and Abdur-Rahmann five points and four assists. 

"Losing the first game v. Redwoods after being up for as long we were really focused us, and helped us understand we can't keep letting opportunities slip. Overall, I thought the tournament was good for us and allowed us to play some North teams that we normally would not get to face."

In the finale, PCC did not shoot a free throw until just under five minutes left in the game (3-for-5 overall). In all three games combined, NorCal officials let PCC get to the line just 23 times (12 made).

"Just only shooting very few free throws in general was a crazy experience," said a perplexed Frazer. "I love making history, but that wasn't how I wanted to do it (he laughed)."

PCC next hosts El Camino in a South Coast Conference crossover on Tuesday, Dec. 20 in a 5 p.m. tip-off at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.