The first home basketball game Jerome Jenkins coached at Santa Monica College was a victory.
The Corsairs broke open a close game in the closing minutes Saturday night, December 6, to defeat Oxnard, 89-78 before a near-capacity crowd in Corsair Pavilion
Forward Arnette Hollis was SMC’s high scorer with 23 points. Point guard Eric Bell directed the offense and scored 15.
SMC had lost five of seven games to open the season playing in tournaments. Of the two wins, one was over Canyons, the only Western State Conference opponent it has faced.
My first impression of Jenkins’ team is it will be small and scrappy, using a pressing defense to create a fast tempo. The Corsairs do have some size but lack a big man such as Oxnard’s 6-foot-10 Matt Dewald, who was a factor until he fouled out.
Jenkins, who was head coach at Sacramento State College the last nine years, replaces Jesse Teplitzky, who coached the Corsairs for only one season. He resigned after winning 17 games to become head coach at Cerritos College.
Only one player, guard Ryan Avilez, returns from last year’s team, the majority of whom are now playing at various colleges.
“All the new players were here when I became the coach,” said Jenkins. “It was too late in the recruiting process for me to do much there.”
Teplitzky did a good job of bringing in talent, and his assistant, Joe Cascio, guided the players through their summer program until a new coach was hired. Cascio is now Jenkins’ assistant.
SMC started fast against Oxnard, taking a 22-13 lead, But the Corsairs fell behind at halftime, 42-40 and then 61-55 in the third quarter.
With the game seemingly slipping away, the Corsairs went on a 12-0 spurt.
With three minutes left SMC led, 75-70. Then, in quick succession, Gueye Mectar scored on a tip-in, Hollis scored inside, and Avilez had a steal which led to a lay-up.
Forward Ross McMain said the team has a lot of potential.
“We’re getting better and we have enough talent,” he said.
The team has depth. Mectar, Kris Mendipour, and Daniel Leflore weren’t starters but made important contributions.
SMC’s next home game will be on December 16. The SMC womens’ basketball team will have a home game on January 3.