Big second half sparks GCC men's basketball

NORTHEAST GLENDALE -- As one of three sophomores on the Glendale Community College men's basketball team, there's plenty on the plate of Mike Johnson.

From helping transition the 13 freshman players to the collegiate level to being one of the team's leading scorers, the adjustments have gone well as of late for the 6-foot-5 wing.

Johnson proved to be a good example on Wednesday night, as he scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the second half to lift Glendale to an 86-57 opening-round win against Rio Hondo in the Vaquero Classic.

The Vaqueros (4-5) will next meet Victory Valley or Cuyamaca in a semifinal contest at 4 p.m. Friday. Victor Valley and Cuyamaca played later Wednesday.

"It's just about me trying to help the younger guys get on the right track," said Johnson, who had two offensive rebounds and converted them into baskets to break open a close game midway through the second half. "I'm trying to work a lot on my offensive rebounding, even away from team practices.

"We were down one point going into halftime and the coaches told us to get it together. The first half, we were asleep, but then we were able to regroup."

Johnson got things started for the Vaqueros in the second half when he followed up on a missed shot and scored on a layup to give Glendale a 42-39 lead with 16:52 left. On the Vaqueros' next possession, Johnson grabbed an offensive rebound and scored on a put back to make it 44-41. Johnson finished the game making seven of 11 shots from the floor.

Glendale Coach Brian Beauchemin, who picked up his 562nd victory since taking over the program in 1979, said Johnson's baskets provided the Vaqueros with momentum.

"He ran the floor real well and helped break it open," said Beauchemin, who saw his team make 31 of 63 shots (49.2%). "He's done a good job, even though he's a little undersized.

"He did a great job on the boards and then getting those scores. You have to be able to rebound if you want to win."

The Vaqueros received 17 points and nine rebounds from Gor Piachyan, 15 points from Emerson Castaneda and 13 points from Isiah Howard.

Castaneda, a St. Francis High graduate and an All-Area second-team pick last season, made three three-pointers in the second half. His last one made it 67-46 with 8:37 left to cap a 19-2 run.

"Emerson made some big three-pointers to break it open," said Beauchemin, whose team, trailed, 34-33, at halftime. "We are capable of scoring when we stay within ourselves.

"We are getting better at recognizing each other."

Rio Hondo (0-8) controlled the tempo throughout most of the first half. A rare four-point play by Robert Talamantes gave Rio Hondo a 24-16 lead with 8:12 remaining in the first half. The Vaqueros then closed out the half on a 17-10 run.

"We had some trouble in the first half, but I think we bothered [Rio Hondo] a bit in the second half," Beauchemin said.

Anthony Owens finished with a team-best 15 points for Rio Hondo, which converted on 19 of 63 shots (30.2%). Preston Sachs and Daniel Silva added 10 points apiece for Rio Hondo, which will play in a consolation contest at noon Friday against Victor Valley or Cuyamaca.

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