Jesse Teplitzky said he wasn’t happy with his team in its final non-conference game, a listless home-court loss to El Camino.
As a result, three season-long starters were on the bench when the Santa Monica College men began their Western State Conference Southern Division schedule at home Wednesday night, January 9 against powerful LA Valley.
As guards Chris Blackwood and Noah Gottlieb and center John Brown watched, SMC fell behind. They came in six minutes later but the deficit kept mounting. SMC trailed, 30-14. At halftime the Corsairs were behind, 48-27. And ultimately SMC trailed by 25 points.
With a furious second half rally SMC came within four points with two minutes left but couldn’t get closer in an 84-80 defeat.
“I wasn’t happy with our El Camino game and I wanted to send a message,” Teplitzky explained. “I tend to be hardest on my best players.
“I’m pleased with the way all three handled the situation and they’ll be back in the starting lineup this week.”
SMC was scheduled to play at Glendale College Wednesday, January 16, and at Citrus, which has a 19-1 record, on Saturday. The next home game will be against Bakersfield Wednesday, January 23.
Gottlieb, who was scoreless at halftime, contributed 17 points after intermission to lead SMC against Valley. Forward Keivan Cross scored 14 and Blackwood played his best game of the season.
Both Citrus and Valley won their second conference games on January 12 when SMC had a bye and they’re tied for the league lead.
SMC has a 13-7 overall record.