By: Joshua Gerard Gargiulo
PHOENIX - Men’s basketball increases their win-streak to eight straight, sweeping opponents during the Phoenix College Holiday Classic.
Over the three-day tournament, the Bears managed to out-rebound and dish out more assists than their opponents. The team also did an outstanding job scoring, averaging 94.6 PPG over the tournament’s length.
The first match-up of the tournament saw the bears pitted against the Chaparral of Midland College. The second half of a home-and-home series saw Phoenix College taking a commanding 16-8 lead, five minutes in. Guards Kenny Sutton and Chris Akil’s quick hands forced multiple turnovers for the Bears. While big-man Alfredo Fuentes got involved early, with a collection of rebounds and put-backs.
A series of misses and turnovers, from both teams, saw the scoreboard go stagnant. Around the ten-minute mark, Midland’s Montre Gipson restarted the scoring with a quick two-pointer; before he drew a foul on PC’s Tre Mitchell.
Fellow teammate Elijah Lufile managed to net a few baskets for the Chaparrals to compliment Gipson; but PC’s Darius Goudeau rattled off seven-straight points, in response to the play of the Midland guards. Which kept the lead at seven.
Recently, coach Eason has been running a four-one set (four guards, one big-man) with Cristiano Gomes and Alfredo Fuentes alternating minutes. Fuentes is seeing the longer-end of minutes (averaging 27.5 min. during the tournament), while both have seen their averages in points and rebounds go up. Gomes’ stats at an even 5.0 PPG and 4.7 RPG; Fuentes’ stats read 5.6 PPG and 6.7 PPG.
Another impasse in action came, as Midland College eventually pulled the game within one. About five minutes was left in action when the Chaparrals took their first lead- on free-throws. This sparked a short run by Midland; but Darius Goudeau’s long-range bombs kept the Bears’ in contention; ultimately hitting a buzzer-beater to close-out the half with PC only down by three.
The second half opened with Midland’s lead extending to as much as seven, before the Bears began to get a handle on their mistakes. Back-to-back threes from Habib Arogundade set PC’s offense in motion; and with 14:00 minutes left, they finally evened the score at 64.
Never truly able to break the Chaparrals spirit; three times in the second half, the Bears saw leads of five, six and eight disappear. Most notably, failing to convert on their final six attempts in the final two minutes. The game was guaranteed another five-minutes of action.
During the overtime period, Phoenix College outscored Midland College 12-8. A tough-fought battle was seen by both sides; but the Bears’ relentless scoring simply overpowered the Chaparrals.
Day two of action featured Vancouver Island University versus Phoenix College. An annual game for Phoenix College that stands as a continuing mid-season test, year-in and year-out.
Both teams started out hot, combining for a total 26 points in the first five minutes. Darius Goudeau accounting for all 13 of Bears’ points during that time. Supplemented by the scoring of his counterparts; Goudeau finished the night with 26 points, on his way to a “Player of the Week” nomination.
In a game where neither team could find breathing room, Eason’s players began to notice the game plan of Vancouver Island revolved around their main scorers: Cameron Guy, Harry Fail and Landon Rodliff. In fact, the three combined for the Mariners first 22-points; and 30 of the team’s 40 first-half points.
The Bears switched from a zone to a 1-2-1-1 press, leaving the Mariners rather confused with the set. The game turned into a street-ball match for the final five minutes. PC ended up taking a six-point lead into halftime.
Chris Akil and Tre Mitchell started out Phoenix College’s second-half scoring. As Vancouver’s Harry Fail and Tyus Barfoot helped for the Mariners; they evened the score with Phoenix College, at 51, in the first two minutes.
The game went back-and-forth after being evened-out. Never seeing either team pull away, until a full-timeout by Duane Eason flipped a switch in players Kenny Sutton and Darius Goudeau. A forced turnover by Goudeau turned into a three-pointer on the other end. Kenny Sutton added four more points to the total, a minute later, giving Phoenix College their lead back. The small run finishing with another three from Darius Goudeau, thirty seconds later.
At this point, the Bears goal turned to maintaining a small lead. Goudeau’s hot hand gifted PC another three points, followed by another basket by Kenny Sutton. Vancouver’s Jerod Dorby put the Mariners within two; but a clutch free throw from Cristiano Gomes and Habib Arogundade, on separate occasions, iced the game. Phoenix College scraped-by Vancouver Island University 88-83.
The final day of the Phoenix College Holiday Classic closed out with Phoenix College playing Phoenix-based Prep School, Taylor Made Preparatory. The school serves as a post-grad school, giving players an opportunity at exposure to college-level talent and coaches; all while not losing a year- athletically.
Defensively, the Bears’ of Phoenix College looked flawless; setting a season-high in steals (16) and tying a season-low for personal fouls (16). Nevertheless, the Bears fatal flaw continues to be their slow starts; as Phoenix College was tied with Taylor Made, with around nine minutes left in the first half.
Following an overhaul of the Taylor Made bench, the bears’ forced the “Grind” to cough up their next four possessions. Coming out of a full time-out, the Bears switched to their full-court press. This caused severe issues for the prep school’s players and allowed for PC to push a two-point lead to 12. The score at half was 47-38.
Both teams started out the second half in timid roles. Rebounding and put-backs, from both sides, was the story of the first five minutes. Fourteen rebounds were secured in that time; Phoenix College seeing their lead shrink by one, 57-49.
Although a tough battle was given by the “Grind” of Taylor Made Prep, the experience of Phoenix College proved to be too much. Kenny Sutton’s five steals were supplemented with 26 points and 8 assists. Darius Goudeau had an impressive double-double, finishing the night with 19 points and 18 rebounds. Big-man Alfredo Fuentes also had a much-needed 8-and-8 game, from down-low.
Phoenix College defeated Taylor Made Prep 96-81.
Phoenix College will take on their first ACCAC Division I opponent, Eastern Arizona College. Action takes place, this Saturday, 4:00pm MST. The “Bears’ Den” is located at 1202 W. Thomas Road, Phoenix, AZ, 85013.