There are two schools of thought regarding Southern California College’s chances of advancing to the National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics basketball championships.
And Vanguard Coach Bill Reynolds knows them both.
Biola, Cal Baptist and Westmont--the three other teams remaining in the NAIA District 3 playoffs--are a combined 0-6 against Southern California College, each team losing twice.
“You hate to play somebody you’ve already beaten twice,” Reynolds said. “Conversely, if you’ve beaten a team twice, why not three times?”
The logic is sound, but Cal Baptist might be hard to convince.
The Vanguards, the district’s top-seeded team, play the Lancers (20-10) in a semifinal game at 8 tonight at Whittier College.
Although the Vanguards have beaten the Lancers by scores of 96-78 and 91-81, Southern California trailed at halftime both times.
“The first game, we just fell apart in the second half,” Cal Baptist Coach Jerry King said. “The second game was tied with 2 minutes left and they just beat us down the stretch. We’re a much better team now.”
The Lancers are fresh off an 81-75 victory Tuesday against Christian Heritage, which was the third-seeded team in the district. Cal Baptist led by as many as 25 points in that game.
“I’m glad we don’t have to play Westmont and Biola back-to-back, but I don’t know if it makes a difference at this point,” Reynolds said. “I mean, Cal Baptist has some really good athletes.”
Such as Michael Banks, a three-time all-district player.
Banks averaged 18 points and seven rebounds per game this season and was a problem for the Vanguards in their two games. He is not only big (6-feet-5, 210 pounds), but quick.
Southern California uses only one player taller than 6-2, Todd Bickmore (6-7).
“Todd just doesn’t match up well with Banks at all,” Reynolds said. “He tries, but he doesn’t have the quickness.”
Cal Baptist also has its New Zealand connection in Warren Davis, Neil Swindale and Tony Smith, all former members of the New Zealand national team.
Smith, a 6-4 guard, averages 13 points per game.
The Vanguards have five players who average in double figures, including Bickmore (team-high 20 points).
Terry Scruggs (18 points), Todd Dixon (16), Kyle Lundy (15) and Phil Hills (nine) also start. Jim Mansfield (11) and John Mounce (eight) are the players Reynolds’ uses off the bench.
“With SCC, you’re not concerned about one or two guys, you have to be concerned with the whole team,” King said. “The first time you see them, they don’t look like much. They just don’t look threatening. But they all shoot well and they all play hard defense and they work well together as a team. They’re tough as nails.”
The winner faces Westmont or Biola in Tuesday’s championship game at Whittier College. Westmont (18-12) and Biola (27-5) play in Saturday’s 6 p.m. game at Whittier.
The winner of Tuesday’s championship game moves on to Kansas City for the 32-team national tournament, March 14-20.