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SMC Eyes Playoffs Despite Slump:

The Santa Monica College men’s basketball team has started off Western State Conference Southern Division play with three losses but Coach Jesse Teplitzky is optimistic a playoff berth is still possible.

 “Our conference is very strong and our non-conference record is very good,” said Teplitzky. “We’ll have the tiebreaker advantage if it comes to that.”

 Three conference teams are sure to make the playoffs and a fourth might be chosen.

 SMC followed an opening 84-80 loss to LA Valley by losing last week to Glendale, 76-73, and first place Citrus, 85-69. The Corsairs were scheduled for a home game Wednesday, January 23 against Bakersfield.

 Before conference games began SMC had a 13-6 record.

 This is Teplitzky’s first year as a head coach.

 “I’ve been an assistant for nine years at various schools and I’ve never been out of the playoffs,” he said. “If you don’t finish high you get a low seed but you’re still in and then anything can happen. So I’ve been telling our players the goal is to get in even with our slow start.”

 SMC’s loss at Glendale came after the Corsairs had a 73-70 lead with 21 seconds to play.

 “There was a series of horrendous events after that,” said Teplitzky.

 SMC was ahead by one with 16 seconds to go but missed a free throw, fouled on the other end, failed to get the rebound on a miss, and fouled again.”

 n that game, Chris Blackwood scored 12 points and three teammates, John Brown, Noah Gottlieb, and Ryan Alvarez, had 11 each.

 Forward Arthur Braswell, who had 11 rebounds, came back with 12 against Citrus.

 Asked to compare Citrus, which has a 21-1 record, with the Irvine Valley team that has defeated SMC twice Teplitzky called them “comparable.”

 “They’re two of the best teams in Southern California,” he said.

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