The Pasadena City College men's basketball team has used a sense of urgency late in games that has served it well in the early part of the season. Strong defense, speed and energetic athleticism produced big plays in the final few minutes Friday as the Lancers defeated LA Valley, 65-60, to advance to the championship game of the 2nd Skip Robinson Classic.
Sophomore transfer forward Chris Blount scored 13 points and grabbed 16 rebounds while letterman guard Josiah Woods tallied 15 points. PCC improved to 4-2 and wil face Los Angeles Trade Tech, a 75-73 winner over Santiago Canyon in the other semifinal in Saturday's title game. Tip-off is 3 p.m. at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.
The rest of the final day schedule is as follows: 7th Place Final: Barstow v. LA Southwest, 9 a.m.; Consolation Final: Mt. San Antonio v. Pierce, 11 a.m.; Third Place Final: Santiago Canyon v. LA Valley, 1 p.m.
After trailing just 30-29 at halftime, PCC pulled ahead of LAVC, 43-40, courtesy of a pair of fast-break slams by Chris Odionu (his only field goals as he finished with five points). The teams traded baskets until Khristion Courseault drove the lane for a layup and a 54-53 PCC lead. Blount then flew into the paint on a missed Lancers long-range attempt, grabbed the rebound and scored with three minutes left.
LAVC tied it, 56-56, on a basket-and-one by Micah Cooper and looked to take the lead on its next possession. Instead, Blount broke up a pass at the top of the key and the ensuing fast break resulted in a foul and two free throws by Courseault for a 58-56 Lancers advantage. Again, Blount came up big as he produced another steal to start another fast break. This time Jordan Simpson did a perfect give-and-go with Courseault for a key basket and a 60-56 lead with 1:40 remaining. Woods sank four free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
The Lancers shot well from the free throw line, making 20-for-27 for 74.1 percent. Off tbe bench, Skyye De Catur was 4-for-4 at the stripe as part of his seven points. Simpson finished with seven points and seven rebounds in reserve. The Pasadena bench produced 23 points and 10 rebounds divided among seven players as Coach Mike Swanegan has used his depth and not relied solely on starters late in games.
Pasadena outrebounded the Monarchs (3-3 record), 46-32.
The Lancers 4-2 start is the best by a PCC team since 2013, also a 4-2 mark after six games. That team went on to post a 21-10 record and a postseason playoff appearance.