San Diego City Knight forward Alex Crawford (22) goes up for a dunk against Pasadena guard Barry Knight (10) at Harry West Gym, Saturday March 2nd, 2024. Photo by Danny Straus/City Times Media
San Diego City Knight forward Alex Crawford (22) goes up for a dunk against Pasadena guard Barry Knight (10) at Harry West Gym, Saturday March 2nd, 2024. Photo by Danny Straus/City Times Media

PREVIEW: ‘Dream Season’ on the line Saturday for City College men’s basketball

No. 2 Knights host No. 10 Allan Hancock, winner advances to state Elite Eight

The San Diego City College’s men’s basketball team is in the same position it was last year. Except it isn’t.

Last year, as the No. 8 seed in the 2023 California Community College Athletic Association’s south region, the Knights were forced to travel to No. 1 seed Fullerton for their regional final game. They lost by one basket to the eventual state champion, 77-74. 

The Knights are again battling for a spot in the 3C2A Elite Eight but this time they are playing at home.

No. 2 San Diego City College men’s basketball plays No. 10 Allan Hancock College in a 3C2A 2024 South region final on Saturday, 7 p.m., at Harry West Gym.

“It’s been on our minds all year,” head coach Mitch Charlens said in an interview this week.

“With our scheduling and how tough we’ve worked to get to this point,“ Charlens said “we have the chance to play a home game as opposed to going on the road.”

The winner advances to the Elite Eight in the 3C2A state championship tournament at Mt. San Antonio College, March 15-17, 2024 in Walnut, CA. 

After winning the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference title, the Knights earned their spot in the Sweet Sixteen game beating Pasadena City College 87-69 in front of a home crowd on Saturday, March 2 after a first-round bye.

The Bulldogs finished second in the Western State Conference (North). They advanced to Saturday night’s regional final game with a first-round 98-68 beat-down of No. 23 Antelope Valley and a second-round upset of No. 7 Santiago Canyon, 62-55

In two playoff games, Allan Hancock outscored opponents in the paint by 22 and 24 points and out-rebounded them by 28 and 15, respectively.

“Dominating the paint is how they win games,” Charlens said.

“They want to score in the paint from high-low post entries and they want to drive it,” Charlens said, “If we can control the paint at home on Saturday, we’ll be in good shape.”

City College defeated Allan Hancock 78-67 earlier this season in the final game of the Home Motors Tournament on the Bulldogs’ home floor. Charlens noted a big difference between that earlier game and the upcoming contest. 

“Alex Crawford didn’t play in that game,” Charlens said, mentioning one of his two all-conference first team players. “He was struggling at the beginning of the year with a back injury. They don’t know what’s about to hit them.”

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Charlens understands that the Bulldogs will want to slow down a Knight offense that is averaging over 10 points per game more than them. 

“They like a much slower game than we do,” Charlens said. “So we’re going to make sure that we don’t let them control the tempo.”

San Diego City Knight guard Al Green (3) angles in for a shot against Pasadena City College at Harry West Gym, Saturday March 2nd, 2024. Photo by Danny Straus/City Times Media

With each game now being both a stepping stone to the goal of a state championship and potentially their last game together, Charlens has reiterated a sense of urgency to his players this week in practice. 

“This team [Allen Hancock] is coming in here and they want to control the paint in our building and our time together as a family,” Charlens emphasized to his players. “This dream season can all come to a screeching halt if we don’t come in with the right mindset.”

Charlens feels that his team is ready to defend the home court and keep this “dream season” going. 

“I feel like we’ve turned a corner and found our rhythm,” Charlens said. “Our team is playing their best basketball right now at the right time.”

Admission to the game on Saturday is $12 for the general public and $8 for students, faculty, staff, senior citizens aged 60 and over, and children less than 12 years of age. A live video feed and live stats will be available.

Around the Knights’ Table

  • Six Bulldog players received WSC (North) All-Conference honors including Mylo Santos, Taevon Pierre-Louis, and Assad Madassalia on the First Team. Noah Haaland, Jahki Parrinello, and Jeremyah Aquino were named Honorable Mention.
  • Going back 10 seasons, the Knights and Bulldogs have met three times, with the Knights winning two, including a 107-95 win in the first round of the state regional tournament in 2014. 
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