VIDEO/AUDIO: City College men’s basketball beat MiraCosta to claim outright PCAC crown

Second-half 15-2 run sends Knights to postseason play; seeding, venues selected Sunday
San Diego City College forward Alex Crawford (22) emphatically delivers one of his six dunks as the Knights defeat MiraCosta College 91-67 to capture outright the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference championship at Harry West Gym, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. Photo by Danny Straus/City Times Media
San Diego City College forward Alex Crawford (22) emphatically delivers one of his six dunks as the Knights defeat MiraCosta College 91-67 to capture outright the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference championship at Harry West Gym, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. Photo by Danny Straus/City Times Media

Editor’s note: City Times Media’s Vince Outlaw and Joe Panek will be adding play-by-play and color commentary to all men’s home games during the 2023-24 season. To watch the video, click here. To listen to the audio feed, click here. To read a rough transcript generated by otter.ai, click here.

Up 37-34 after a see-saw first half and with big-game nerves seemingly impacting his team, San Diego City College men’s basketball Head Coach Mitch Charlens had more than just a few basketball-related corrections to suggest in the halftime locker room.

He delivered a final message he hoped his team would understand. 

“The last thing I said was ‘Guys, if I told you back in August, that to win conference outright, you just had to win one 20-minute half at home, what would you say to that? What else could you ask for?’” Charlens recalled.

The Knights made their answer clear by opening the second half with a 15-2 explosion.

That ignited a 54-point second half and a 91-67 defeat of MiraCosta College in front of an energized and celebratory sophomore night crowd celebrating Black History Month at Harry West Gym on Feb. 23.

With the win, the Knights (24-4, 15-1) secured sole possession of the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference crown and, hopefully, a top-four seed, first-round bye, and games on their home court for the California Community College South Regional playoffs.

With the largest attendance of the season in the stands and the conference championship and postseason seeding on the line, the import of the game seemed to impact both teams from the jump. Neither team scored a field goal in the first 4:35 of the game.

Then Knight forward Alex Crawford got the first bucket of the game in a fashion that he would repeat six times on his way to a team-leading 25 points – a thunderous dunk.

“We were just taking quick shots in the first half,” Charlens said after post-game celebrations and sophomore recognitions with family and friends on the court. “I think we were too anxious and thought it was going to be too easy. We were at home, so take the first available.” 

The lead changed hands nine times in the first half, with MiraCosta leading at one point by six and City by as many as five. The teams were tied 34-34 when KJay Bradley hit his only 3-point shot of the night with four seconds left to give the Knights a 37-34 halftime lead. 

It would be the last time the teams would be that close.

“We were kind of lackadaisical out there (in the) first half,” Bradley, in a court-side interview after the game. “Knowing that they were a good team, we had to be tougher than them.”

That toughness was made real in the first 3:32 of the second half, like this: Al Green layup, Bradley steal and dunk, Green steal and dunk, Crawford layup, Kevin Moore two free throws, Crawford layup, Moore 3-point shot. 

San Diego City College players, including Dillon Cubit, left, and Al Green, right, celebrate as Knights Head Coach Mitch Charlens delivers sophomore night recognitions after City’s 91-67 victory clinching sole possession of the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference championship at Harry West Gym, Friday, Feb. 23. 2024. Photo by Danny Straus/City Times Media

With Knights lead pushed to 16, the Spartans’ hopes to earn a share of the conference title faded. City would eventually run the lead up to 28 points before finishing with a 24-point win.

One statistic stuck out for Charlens after the final buzzer

One turnover. The entire game. 

“That’s remarkable,” Charlens said. “I’ve never coached a team that had a game with one turnover. Never at any level. I’ve coached a million levels. I’ve never had a team that had one turnover in a game.”

Bradley described the importance of taking care of the ball.

“Turnovers lose games,” he said.

Bradley, who made 8-of-8 from the three-point line in his 41-point performance at Palomar on Wednesday, shared the scoring duties with teammates against MiraCosta.

Five Knights scored in double figures Friday, including four players with 10 or more second-half points toward the team’s 54.

“I say this kind of role is more of my game,” Bradley said. “I want to get everybody in a position to score and play defense. It’s more of like a team sport anyway. Wednesday night just happened to be my night.”

The Knights now wait until Sunday to see where they are seeded in the post-season South Regional field and where they will be playing their games.

The Knights are likely to be a top seed in the 3C2A Basketball Championships, which start Feb. 28.

Here is your breakdown of how it all works, according to the 3C2A Men’s and Women’s Championship Handbook for Basketball.

Like the Men’s NCAA Tournament, the seeding of the teams is selected by a committee on Sunday, Feb. 25.

Going into the final week of the regular season, Charlens knew what was at stake.

“If we take care of this week and we get a top-four seed going into playoffs, that’s what will matter to me,” he said.  

The top four seeds get a first-round bye and the ability to host the regional games.

The playoffs consist of three regional rounds and three state rounds known as the Elite Eight.  

The regional rounds are two separate 24-team tournaments that end with four teams advancing to the Elite Eight from each region. The regions split the state from north and south.  

The top eight teams in each region receive a first-round bye and host the second-round matchup.  In the final round of regionals, the higher seed hosts the game. 

The regional games with take place on these dates in this order:

  • Round 1: Feb. 28 
  • Round 2: March 2 
  • Round 3: March 9 

Finally, the State Championships will take place at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut March 14-17. The women’s games are played Feb. 14, 16 and 17. The men’s games are played Feb. 15-17.

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