By: Joshua Gerard Gargiulo
PHOENIX - Five players’ notch double-figures, as Bears’ end Native American Classic on high-note, scoring 109 in a commanding victory over Wayne County Community College.
At the end of their second tournament in as many weeks, the Bears start conference play with a record of 3-2. The team saw vast talent, starting with a visit to Midland, TX for the Chaparral Classic. They saw themselves walking away 1-1. With an eleven-point victory over Midland and loss to Ranger College, the following day.
Coming back from Texas, the Bears were scheduled to face three teams, in three days, during their annual appearance in the Native American Classic. Phoenix College met New Mexico Junior College on Thursday. A game that included two, key plays late in the 2nd half, that led to a crucial 2 points- late. Ultimately the deciding factor in a close, 89-87 game.
“It was good to see the guys compete again. New Mexico Junior College was really good; and it was a good challenge for us. I was glad about that,” Head Coach, Duane Eason said.
Competing against heavily-recruited Division I talent proved to be the boast many players needed. They followed up a close defeat on Thursday with a promising win against New Mexico Military Institute on Friday, 122-80.
A double-double from ACCAC “Player of the Week” Darius Goudeau, was the highlight of a game which saw seven Bears in double-figures. Alongside an impressive 48 rebounds and 31 assists, the Bears’ also went a perfect 17-17 from the line. A place they struggled from, in the first three games.
The third day of the Native American Classic proved to be much of the same. As the Bears took on Wayne County Community College.
The first five minutes started out slow, as coach mentions most practices often do, with the team deadlocked at eight. Following Trey Mitchell’s first return, off the bench, Chris “Akil” Holloway got the run going for the Bears; the lead quickly ballooning to 18-8 off Kenny Sutton free throws.
Darius Goudeau soon found heat with a three-pointer and two free throws, on back-to-back possessions. As the domino effect soon took over, multiple Bears’ saw opportunities open-up. With multiple conversions from three by Ahmed Levon, who shot 80% from behind-the-arc. The Bears’ lead sky-rocketed to 39-27, closing out the half with an eighteen-point lead.
The start of half two saw another slow start, by the Bears. One that sophomore forward, Casey Nwamba capitalized on, with 4 points and 3 rebounds in the first five minutes. Even with the scare, the lead was in no jeopardy; allowing for starters Darius Goudeau and Ahmed Levon to find their grooves- again.
Despite a four-point game for starter, Trey Mitchell. He found a role facilitating, with a team-high six assists. Selflessness, and a total 27-team assists graciously aided in every player scoring in the contest.
“I think the guards did a really good, overall job of taking care of the basketball and being aggressive,” Eason said.
The high-point man was Darius Goudeau, with 21 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Kenny Sutton followed with 20 points 6 rebounds and 4 assists; Ahmed Levon finished with 18 points and 9 boards.
Defense and rebounding were other, key factors in the Saturday win. As the Bears secured 47 total rebounds, and out-rebounded Wayne County 33-17 on defense.
Despite impressive numbers, coach Eason insists there is “room for improvement” by all-three big men- on the glass. Especially when your second-leading rebounder, is your starting point guard. As for defense, the Bears held the Wildcats to 20% from three, and 33% from the field.
When asked about the 10-man rotation, in the last two games. Eason was vocal about his belief in the team’s talent, asserting a 60-40 mentality with minutes.
“When you run and press, like I do, then you have to use all 10 guys,” Eason said. “That’s our strength. My philosophy is: ‘your top three might be better than our top 3. But my ten, is better than your 10.”
The Bears’ have a seven day lay-off. Before opening conference play at Glendale Community College, November 20th, at 7:30pm. Glendale Community College is located at: 6000 W Olive Ave, Glendale, AZ.