Community College Notebook / Steve Kresal : County Men's Basketball Teams Face Fight for Survival in Playoffs

The Southern California men's community college basketball pairings were announced Monday and the five Orange County entries--Rancho Santiago, Orange Coast, Cypress, Fullerton and Golden West--are facing an uphill battle.

Rancho Santiago (18-10), which was seeded 12th--highest among county teams--plays host to Citrus (17-15) in a first-round game Saturday. If the Dons win, they would face fifth-seeded Ventura (26-5) on the road.

"There were two places I didn't want to go," Rancho Santiago Coach Dana Pagett said Monday. "One was Ventura and the other was Santa Monica. But we have to worry about beating Citrus first. Don (Frank, Pagett's assistant) has seen Citrus and he was impressed."

Marcell Driver, a 6-foot-7 forward, is averaging 24 points and 14 rebounds a game for Citrus.

In other first-round games Saturday involving county teams: No. 17 Los Angeles Harbor (15-13) is at No. 16 Orange Coast (20-11), No. 19 Glendale (18-11) is at No. 14 Golden West (20-11), No. 18 Fullerton (20-10) is at No. 15 Pasadena (18-9) and No. 23 Cypress (13-16) is at No. 10 Oxnard (19-10).

A total of 26 teams make the regional playoffs in the north and south. The regional finals are March 4. The final eight teams, four from the north and four from the south, meet in the state tournament March 9-11 at the University of Santa Clara.

A first-round victory for OCC would earn the Pirates a trip to play at Santa Monica (29-3), the top-ranked team in the state and the No. 1 seeded team in the south.

"We scrimmaged with Harbor before the season and they played very well," OCC Coach Tandy Gillis said. "Of course that was back in early November so things could be different now."

If Fullerton upsets Pasadena, the Hornets will travel to No. 2 Imperial Valley (26-4).

If Golden West gets by Glendale, the Rustlers will be headed for No. 2 El Camino (21-8), the defending state champion.

A Cypress upset of Oxnard would send the Chargers against No. 7 Mt. San Jacinto (26-6) or No. 26 San Diego City (13-14).

"Nobody gets an easy game at this point," Golden West Coach Jim Greenfield said. "You have to play good teams, so you might as well start in the first round."

Fred Hoover, who coached Golden West baseball from its inception in 1966 to 1988, had his jersey retired Sunday at the Golden West alumni game.

Hoover had a 459-295 record in 22 seasons and won or shared seven conference titles and finished second seven more times.

Hoover, who wore No. 1, will have his jersey hung in the campus gym later this spring. Hoover left Golden West after last season when his team was 26-14 and lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Hoover is now assisting Cal State Fullerton's Larry Cochell, a longtime friend.

Community College Notes

Golden West running back Blaise Bryant has agreed to attend Iowa State next season. Bryant, from Cypress High School, set an Orange County single-game community-college rushing record this season when he ran for 330 yards in 46 carries against Riverside in the final game of the season. Bryant had 1,691 yards in 334 carries this season. . . . Cypress was so depleted of pitchers this weekend that Coach Scott Pickler turned to infielder Ken Kendrena to save the championship game of the King's River tournament against Santa Rosa. Kendrena allowed two hits and no runs in two innings to pick up his and the team's first save of the season. . . . David Tellers, an all-Orange Empire Conference pitcher from Rancho Santiago last season, is 5-0 this season for surprising San Jose State, which is 12-0 going into today's game with Stanford at San Jose State. . . . The road was the place to be in the Orange Empire Conference men's basketball race this season. Road teams won 23 times and lost 19.

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