The 2009-2010 basketball season on the Westside began in stirring fashion Tuesday night in Santa Monica College’s Corsair Pavilion.
First the SMC women rallied from a second half slump to edge Moorpark, 45-42. Then the SMC men outlasted LA Southwest College, 105-97, taking charge after the game was tied at 95.
Fans enjoyed the games sitting on new cushions rather than the hard benches of recent years. The cushions were blue except for areas of gray that carved out a large SMC. Pretty classy.
The SMC women had a 33-9 halftime lead, and then were outscored 19-1 to create the tense finish. Freshman Ema Alvarez from LA Wilson High and freshman Chantel Diaz from Covina then made outside shots and sophomore Karlia Batalia from Santa Monica High made a layup, allowing the team to win after opening the season with two losses.
In the fast-paced mens’ game, SMC held a 51-49 halftime lead, increased it to 68-55, then was caught at 90.
When it became 95-all, freshman center Bryant Crowder and freshman guard Rodney Hudson scored and Crowder scored again to give the Corsair men their second win in three games.
Scouts from four-year colleges will pay close attention to Crowder’s development. The 6-foot-10 center from Rice High in New York is extremely talented and productive although he’s slim and will have to gain strength to dominate at the four-year level.
Crowder had 29 points in this game. He broke loose after being restricted early by double-teaming, and was a major factor down the stretch.
In a 79-77 victory over Compton College last week Crowder had 29 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Hudson, a 6-foot-3 guard from LA Jordan High, produced 20 points to help overcome Southwest’s defensive pressure. And sophomore reserve guard Charlie Oriel ably backed up starter Eric Bell in getting past the swarming defenders.
In community college basketball teams frequently play in December tournaments. As a result, after the SMC men host Santa Ana on Dec. 3 they’ll compete in the Rio Hondo, Saddleback and Diablo Valley tournaments and won’t play another home game until January 13 against Citrus.
The SMC women will have a home game Dec. 1 at 5 p.m. against Santa Barbara. The rest of the month they’ll play in the Pasadena, College of San Mateo and Fullerton tournaments.