Young Vaqueros set for challenge

GLENDALE — So much for being overly concerned about playing so many freshmen.

In a perfect world, Glendale Community College men's basketball Coach Brian Beauchemin would like to have an equal blend of freshmen and sophomores on the floor. He doesn't have that luxury right now, but it hasn't seemed to matter so far in the postseason.

Beauchemin will look for his first-year athletes to carry the Vaqueros to another playoff road victory at 7 p.m. today, when 18th-seeded Glendale college (17-15) meets second-seeded Fullerton College (24-5) in a Southern California Regional second-round road contest.

It will mark the first time the teams have met this year.

The Vaqueros, who finished fifth in the Western State Conference Southern Division, snapped a four-game losing skid Wednesday with a 99-90 come-from-behind road victory against 15th-seeded Compton College in a first-round contest. Fullerton College, which earned a first-round bye after capturing the Orange Empire Conference championship, has won 10 consecutive games since it suffered a 91-84 loss to Irvine Valley College on Jan. 11.

Glendale college, which last participated in the postseason in 2003, saw its core of freshmen turn in clutch efforts against Compton College. Freshman guard Markus Monroe paced the Vaqueros with a game-high 29 points, while Hoover High graduate Zareh Zargaryan added 21 points and a team-high 11 assists.

“To play in that kind of environment, they did well,” said Beauchemin, who has led the Vaqueros to the postseason 20 times since taking over the program in 1979. “These freshmen made the plays, and they showed me what they could do in a tough environment.

“We don't have a blend of sophomores to say that we can get through this and that things will be OK. It's a big jump for them.”

There's one freshman who the Vaqueros have been without since Feb. 6. Guard Jose Garcia suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) against L.A. Valley College, and won't be able to practice for at least another five months, Beauchemin said.

That's forced Beauchemin to make some alterations to the starting lineup.

“That's a big loss for us,” said Beauchemin, who has 501 career victories. “We've had to make adjustments, and that's been a little difficult for us.

“You can look at Fullerton from any way, and they are so talented. They are well organized, and they press from buzzer to buzzer. We are still going to have to make our stops.”

Zargaryan said competing against the top teams around Southern California can bring out the best in the Vaqueros.

“It doesn't matter who we play now,” Zargaryan said. “It doesn't matter if it's the No. 1 seed, or the No. 2 seed.

“You still have to play the games.”

The Hornets are led by sophomore guards Justin Carter and Darrian McKinstry. Carter is averaging a team-high 20.1 points per game, while McKinstry is averaging 14.2.


?CHARLES RICH covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3228 or charles.rich@latimes.com.

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