City College’s Alex Crawford (22) and KJay Bradley (0) watch forward Dexter Stratton’s jumper against Palomar College at Harry West Gym, Friday Jan. 19, 2024. Photo by Vince Outlaw/City Times Media
City College’s Alex Crawford (22) and KJay Bradley (0) watch forward Dexter Stratton’s jumper against Palomar College at Harry West Gym, Friday Jan. 19, 2024. Photo by Vince Outlaw/City Times Media
Vince Outlaw

GAME PREVIEW: City College men’s basketball back home to face surging Southwestern College

After weather-forced practices in other gyms and four games away, Knights face improving fourth-place Jaguars

Getting home in the rain is something that many San Diegans have been dealing with lately, including the San Diego City College men’s basketball team after two weeks on the road.

“Today was the first Monday that we’ve had in three weeks where we’ve been able to practice in our own gym and at our usual practice time with the weather,” Head Coach Mitch Charlens said in a phone interview with City Times on Feb. 6.

Charlens’ second-place Pacific Coast Athletic Conference Knights will be back in the warm, dry confines of Harry West Gym on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 5 p.m. when they take on fourth-place Southwestern College.

The game will be streamed live on the Knights’ YouTube channel and a day later on City Times Media’s YouTube channel.

The Knights and Jaguars met at Southwestern on Jan. 5, resulting in a 97-60 win for City. The win was fueled by a 29-point, four-assist, four-steal performance by guard KJay Bradley and a 20-point, 11-rebound double-double by forward Alex Crawford. 

Bradley, a guard, continues to lead the team offensively, averaging 18.5 points and six assists per game. Bradley leads the PCAC in assists per game and is fourth in conference scoring. 

Crawford, a forward, leads the team in rebounding, averaging almost seven per game, while also contributing 14.7 points per game. 

Southwestern guard Ayden Lockett’s 10.7 points per game leads the Jaguars in scoring and center Kaleb Wilson is pulling down almost eight rebounds per game to lead the team. 

Charlens knows the previous big win over Southwestern doesn’t mean the Jaguars can be taken lightly in Wednesday’s rematch. 

“We’re two different teams now,” Charlens said, “that was quite a while ago. They’re playing better. They just beat Miramar on Friday at their place. So they’re playing better than they were when we saw them last.”

Due to weather the previous two weeks, the Knights had to schedule Monday evening practices at Miramar College and St. Augustine High School in North Park. 

“Because we play Wednesday and Fridays in-conference,” Charlens noted, “Mondays are the only day we can really get after it and kind of set the tone and the tempo and get our rhythm playing full speed.”

City’s four-game road trip included its only conference loss, a 78-72 loss at conference-leading MiraCosta College, followed by three straight wins including its largest margin of victory at Grossmont, 112-62, and wins at Cuyamaca and San Diego Mesa, both by over 25 points.

After several mid-season games missing key players due to illness and injury, Coach Charlens says the Knights are back at full strength as the final five conference games and post-season play are coming. 

“When we beat Miramar at their place (on Jan. 17), we were down four starters,” Charlens added. “Then our backcourt, Al Green and KJay Bradley, they couldn’t play in the second half because they were both cramping so bad … So we’re healthy now, got past that and hopefully, we can get a rhythm with all of our guys back now.”

With a final conference rematch at home against MiraCosta on Feb. 23, Charlens is working to keep his team from looking too far ahead. 

“A lot of our guys have already committed, moving on to universities after this year. Knowing we’ve had a great deal of success already, it’s easy to get complacent,” the coach said, “So (we’re) just trying to keep them in the moment and try to keep them on edge right now so that we’re ready when the playoffs start.”

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