Mitch Chortkoff, Mirror sports writer The mens’ basketball season at Santa Monica College didn’t go as planned, but it could have been worse. Following a 10-game losing streak that ended the squad’s playoff chances SMC won two games near the end of the season. The Corsairs won at Citrus, 67-62, lost to Canyons, then won at home over Bakersfield, 84-83, last Wednesday. The season concluded with a game at West Los Angeles College Saturday night. The two wins were the only ones SMC achieved in the Western State Conference Southern Division. “It was a difficult season,’’ said 5-foot-9 point guard Jonathan Smith, the Corsairs’ best player. ’’Because of injuries, roles changed. Guys were playing out of position. I did more scoring, but as a point guard I prefer to pass.’’ Smith ranked sixth in the conference in scoring and was second in steals and assists. Exceptionally quick and talented, he is being recruited by numerous four-year schools. The injuries began when Justin Goins, who led the team in field goal percentage, went out after 10 games. Later, 6-foot-7 center Kam-Ron Clay, who was fifth in the conference in rebounding, suffered a broken foot. And then high-scoring 6-4 forward LeBoise Gladden also broke a foot. The injuries compounded the problems of Trevor Shickman, who was in his first season as head coach following the retirement of John McMullen, who completed a 25-year coaching career at SMC with 517 wins and a place in the California Community Colleges Hall of Fame. Prior to the final home game, 10 sophomores playing in Corsair Pavilion for the last time were honored, sharing the moment with family and friends. The group included Gladden, Clay, Mike Wood, Patrick Ndombasi, Smith, Goins, Jun Nakanishi, Matt Holton, Efrem Lawrence and Mohammed Alarbesh. Nakanishi’s parents traveled the furthest. They came from Tokyo to see their son play for SMC for the first time. SMC was sharp at the outset, moving to a 17-8 lead. Without being challenged the Corsairs improved the advantage to 44-26 at halftime. Duplicating the way they had played in other games, the Corsairs then had a poor stretch. the Renegades began getting back into the game and reduced the deficit to 72-64 with 3:56 remaining. Ndombasi made a three-point shot and layup and SMC resisted another surge, going ahead 84-80 when Lawrence made two free throws with seven seconds left. A three-point Bakersfield basket in the final second completed the scoring. Lawrence led SMC in scoring with 21 points. Smith had 19.The Corsairs can look back at the season and wonder what might have been. The record was 9-4 when the losing streak began.
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