Until this week, the California Community Colleges feel-good story was the emergence of Los Angeles Trade Tech, a program that had struggled in recent years but had won 16 of its last 17 games and rose to No. 12 in the state men's basketball rankings. Meanwhile, unranked Pasadena City College has flown under the radar despite a recent upset over No. 10 Cerritos and Friday's near miss in a 1-point overtime loss to No. 5 East Los Angeles.
The Lancers are relishing in their role as underdogs and Wednesday they shot the lights out at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium, making 61 percent of their first-half shots for a 21-point halftime lead en route to a shocking rout over Trade Tech, 81-58. PCC improved to 14-7 overall and leaped into a 3-way tie for second place in the difficult South Coast Conference North Division at 2-1. The stunned Beavers fell to 16-4 and 2-1.
Pasadena exacted some revenge on Trade Tech, having lost to them (71-66) in November in the finals of the PCC Skip Robinson Classic. PCC's upset also brought back some memories from a decade ago when the 2008 Lancers sent shockwaves throughout the state when they upset then state #1 Trade Tech in the season finale also at the HP Gym. In 2014, Lancers head coach Michael Swanegan picked up his 200th collegiate coaching win at the expense of Trade Tech.
On Wednesday, PCC didn't take long to establish the lead as guards Giovonni Jackson and Khristion Courseault rained in back-to-back 3-pointers. Jackson drove the length of a court for a layup that extended the advantage to 23-9 with 8:10 left in the first half. A thundering dunk by Ivan Egbunike made it 39-25, then reserve guard Patric Panoosi gunned a pair of treys in the final minute as PCC enjoyed a 19-point lead, 48-29, at halftime. The Lancers made 20 of 33 shots from the field.
In the second half, PCC concentrated its efforts on stopping Trade Tech center and conference top scorer/rebounder Fredelin Dela Cruz. The 6-foot-7 talent had 15 points after 20 minutes, but the defensive duo of Pasadena forwards Jordan Simpson and Chris Blount frustrated Dela Cruz in the second half. In fact, Dela Cruz didn't score again, missing all six of his field goal shots before fouling out in the final minute.
Pasadena never was threatened and actually built its lead to an impressive 28 points, 70-42, on a Simpson layup with four minutes remaining.
Jackson scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds while Courseault added 11 points. Egbunike had 10 points and six rebounds off the bench. Panoosi finished with nine points. Chris Odionu had eight points, eight boards and four assists while Blount totaled eight points and nine rebounds. Simpson tacked on six points, six rebounds and three blocks. Mark Chin led Trade Tech with 17 points.
The Lancers travel to face Mt. San Antonio on Friday, Feb. 1 in a 5 p.m. conference tip-off.