Glendale Community College men's basketball playoff journey goes to Inland Empire

Three months after the Glendale Community College men’s basketball team faced San Bernardino Valley, Vaqueros veteran Coach Brian Beauchemin had no trouble recalling a few key points in the game.

It came Dec. 6 in a first-round game of the Greg Anderson Memorial Tournament at Antelope Valley College with San Bernardino Valley posting an 80-70 overtime win.

Little did Beauchemin know, the seventh-seeded Vaqueros would get another crack at the second-seeded Wolverines when the teams meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday in a third-round contest of the Southern California Regionals at San Bernardino Valley.

“It’s really hard to believe that game was three months ago,” said Beauchemin, who saw Jalen Etienne make a pair of free throws with 2.8 seconds remaining to lead host Glendale to a 67-65 second-round home win against 10th-seeded L.A. Harbor on Friday. “We shot free throws poorly in overtime after we had a good look to win the game in regulation.

“Both teams are playing solid ball now. We know we will have our work cut out, but it will be another great test for our guys. We just have to keep plugging away.”

The Vaqueros, who finished second in the Western State Conference South Division behind top-seeded Antelope Valley, are 22-5.

The Wolverines (26-7) began the playoffs Saturday with a 65-49 second-round home win against 18th-seeded Irvine Valley. San Bernardino Valley, which won the Foothill Conference championship, has won seven contests in a row and is 10-1 in its last 11 games.

Glendale will turn to Etienne, a freshman guard, sophomore post Gor Plavchyan and junior guard Emmett Duvall to try to extend its playoff run. Duvall collected 24 points and 10 rebounds and Etienne and Plavchyan finished with 14 points apiece against L.A. Harbor to give Beauchemin his 592nd career victory, third most in state history.

“We know we will have to go in there and stick to playing good defense and rebounding, two things we’ve done well lately,” said Beauchemin, whose team last qualified for the playoffs in 2011. “We will have to control the tempo because San Bernardino can score in bursts.

“We know San Bernardino has some good shooters and a highly effective perimeter game. We have to try and respond with our inside game and negate their perimeter game.”

Duvall, who earned a spot on the all-conference first team, said the Vaqueros have improved defensively since the first meeting against the Wolverines.

“We’ve learned to keep our composure on defense and we continue to get better,” Duvall said. “When we played them the first time, we weren’t quite at our best.

“We kind of broke down at the end, but that was a pretty close game.”

San Bernardino, which has won seven conference championships in the last 11 years, will counter with sophomore guards Gerry Blakes and Tymarieh Dixon. The Arizona State University-bound Blakes registered 21 points against Irvine Valley and Dixon added 16.

Beauchemin said the Vaqueros will need to pay close attention to Blakes, who scored 21 points against Glendale in December.

“He’s the kind of player who can take over a game at any time,” said Beauchemin, who took over the program in 1979 and has piloted the Vaqueros to 21 postseason appearances. “He’s solid in a lot of areas.”

The Glendale-San Bernardino Valley winner will take on third-seeded Mount San Antonio or 11th-seeded Citrus in a semifinal game Saturday. The other third-round games Wednesday will consist of Antelope Valley against eighth-seeded Cerritos and fourth-seeded Chaffey versus 12th-seeded Pasadena.

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