It was as if Southern California College had just won the NAIA championship Tuesday night.
After SCC defeated Cal Lutheran, 89-70, in its final regular season NAIA District 3 conference game, the Vanguards pulled a ladder up to the basket and each player ceremoniously took a turn at cutting down the net as the crowd of 850 at SCC stood and cheered.
"Oh, Coach (Bill) Reynolds is going to be mad," assistant Coach Jeff Malstead said with a laugh as he watched the impromptu celebration. "Those are old baskets and the nets hard to find."
Reynolds, however, looked more embarrassed than upset as his players pushed him up the ladder for the final cut and carried him off the court on their shoulders.
Tuesday night's celebration had little do to with SCC's victory over Cal Lutheran. In fact, the Vanguards' lack of enthusiasm at playing the Kingsmen was apparent throughout the game. The Vanguards appeared to be playing rather perfunctory basketball, without much of the exciting fast-break offense they do so well.
But who could really blame them? SCC, 23-4 overall, 9-3 conference, secured the NAIA District 3 Southern Division title last week and Cal Lutheran at 8-23, 3-8 (fourth in the Northern Division) posed no serious challenge.
SCC had five players in double figures: Sherwin Durham with 22 points, Greg Ward 11, Randy McAllister 10, Ken Bardsley 12 and Neil Anderson 15.
"We were definitely not into this game, especially on defense," Reynolds said standing at center court soaking wet after his players threw him in the shower after the victory. "But we're taking tomorrow off. It's like we just won the championship."
No, but the Vanguards are one step closer.
CAL LUTHERAN (70)--Taggatz 10, Aguirre 1, Lavera 20, K. Slattum 6, Ranck 2, Gibbs 11, Korshvan 6, Cotner 14.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COLLEGE (89)--Aviles 2, Ward 11, McAllister 10, Durham 22, Bardsley 12, Bruce 4, Myles 3, Anderson 15, Tibbs 8, Reddick 2.
Halftime--Southern California College, 40-32.