The Santa Monica College men lost a basketball game to Bakersfield College Saturday night, 78-74, epitomizing the tough-luck defeat.Coach Trevor Shickman re-defined some players’ roles and the Corsairs played an up-tempo, spirited contest most of the way against the state’s 17th-ranked community college team. But they couldn’t hold a 12-point second-half lead without star guard Aaron Harris, who missed the game due to illness.A Corsair Pavilion crowd cheered SMC’s strong effort – especially when Don Choi’s layup gave the Corsairs a 54-42 lead. But the Renegades went ahead, 59-57 and held on in a wild finish.SMC came within a point, 73-72 when guard Mark Brathwaite scored following a steal with 1:13 left. But the Corsairs couldn’t get the lead after that.Kenny Michael, who didn’t play in the Corsairs’ last home game, came off the bench to score 19 points. Center Shakir Johnson and forward Rondell Eskridge each contributed 14.The talented but foul-prone Johnson, a 6-foot-9 freshman from LA Dorsey High, came out of a slump to be a factor on offense and defense, During a couple of time outs, Shickman implored his players to get the ball inside to Johnson, saying, “Good things happen when he gets the ball.”That was true, but not quite enough good things happened. With both teams featuring athletic players 6-6 and under the pace was torrid, and sometimes the big guy is left out when play is so rapid.Choi, a reserve all season, started in place of Harris and did a good job of running the offense.SMC has one home game left in the season — tonight (Wednesday) at 7:30 against L.A. Valley.
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