PREVIEW: Hens basketball clinches last-second win over Stags, signaling the start of more P-P-CMS battles for SCIAC supremacy

A basketball player runs with the ball towards the basket.
Micah Elan PZ ’20 drives towards the basket during the CMS vs. P-P men’s basketball game Nov. 4. (HuxleyAnn Huefner • The Student Life)

With 24 seconds left and the score tied at 48, the Pomona-Pitzer men’s basketball team knew it had to go to the hot hand: Micah Elan PZ ’20.

Elan patiently ran down the clock from behind the three-point line, ensuring Claremont-Mudd-Scripps would have scant time to counter. With just eight seconds left in regulation, he decided it was go time, making a quick burst with Brian Kenyon CM ’23 pressuring him high.

After recovering the ball from a slightly fumbled crossover, Elan crossed it back over to his left and pulled up for a straightaway three, hitting what was only the fourth triple of the night for the Sagehens and giving them a dramatic 51-48 win over the Stags.

If the game was any indication of how the rest of the season will pan out, fans can expect another fierce battle between P-P and CMS for the SCIAC title.

The Hens and Stags will next face off Feb. 5 at Roberts Pavilion.

Sagehens post multiple blowout wins, ready to duplicate last season’s success

Riding its momentum from last year, the P-P men’s basketball team is looking to repeat as conference champions and top last year’s second-round NCAA tournament exit.

After dropping their first two games to Westmont and Biola in two tightly contested matchups, the Sagehens (4-2, 1-0 SCIAC) went on a tear, bulldozing Cal Miramar, Pacific and Lewis and Clark by margins of 38, 22 and 20, respectively.

Elan has led the charge for the Hens, dropping 33 points against Lewis and Clark, 23 against Cal Miramar and 26 in the season opener at Westmont. He also posted a near triple-double in a 117-95 win over Pacific, ending with 16 points, nine boards and nine assists.

Center Alex Preston PO ’21 has also impressed thus far. He’s averaging 18.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game on 52.4 percent from the field. Against Pacific, he posted a whopping 42 points — setting a new single-game points record for P-P — and 13 rebounds.

The Hens have also enjoyed important contributions from new team members. 

Brendan Mora PO ’23 put up 16 points and 16 rebounds against Pacific in only 21 minutes of play and 10 points and eight boards against Cal Miramar. Johnny King PO ’23 recorded 10 points, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 13 minutes against Cal Miramar.

Part of P-P’s early success can be attributed to graduating just two seniors, including standout guard Daniel Rosenbaum PO ’19, who won SCIAC Player of the Year last season.

However, losing a player of Rosenbaum’s caliber mandates adjustments.

“We have a lot of guys returning, but I think that we’re getting through a process of adjusting to a new way of playing different players,” Adam Rees PO ’20 said. “Last year, we came into the season with the same players, and it was a really easy transition. With losing a couple of good seniors in Danny and Corbin [Koch PO ’19], it’s kind of tough to adapt from that.”

If the Sagehens, who were voted to win the SCIAC in a preseason poll, can maintain their current level of offensive production — they’re averaging 85.7 points per game — then their chances of repeating as SCIAC champions look bright.

“We are calm under pressure,” Rees said. We have a lot of experience on the team, and I think that really helps us. Skill-wise, we’re a very good shooting team.”

The P-P men will next take on Bethesda University on Saturday at 7 p.m.

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Stags poised to return to SCIAC title contention

Opening the season with multiple decisive wins, the CMS men’s basketball team (3-2, 0-1 SCIAC) looks ready to clash with P-P for the SCIAC title once again.

After losing its season opener to Whitworth 93-83, the Stags took down George Fox 80-72, Lewis and Clark 82-49 and Pacific 114-92.

Against Pacific, Maxwell Kirsch CM ’20 and Jeremy Horn CM ’20 posted career-highs of 20 and 24 points, respectively. Horn also shot a near-perfect 11-for-12 from the field.

Scoring has been the least of the Stags’ problems so far, as they’re averaging 81.4 points per game on 49.1 percent from the field. Veteran guard Miles President HM ’20 noted that scoring at a consistent pace was a problem for the team last year.

“To avoid scoring droughts, we’re making sure we set hard screens to get each other open and trying to knock down open shots,” President said.

He’s been crucial to the team’s offense. The senior guard is averaging 15.2 points per game on 51.9 percent shooting, including a 24-point performance against George Fox.

With an almost equal number of upperclassmen and underclassmen, CMS has a good combination of experience and youth, which could bode well for the future.

“The team is really close, and everyone is all-in on filling whatever role is needed for us to be at our best,” President said.

With conference play coming up, the Stags will lean on their defensive intensity and veteran leadership.

“Our greatest strength is probably our defense,” President said. “We take pride in making it very difficult for the opponent to score. We try to avoid giving up open threes or layups, forcing the other team into taking contested twos.”

The Stags will next face UC Santa Cruz on Friday at 7 p.m.

P-P women’s basketball looks to top last year’s historic season

Fresh off last year’s history-making season, including the program’s first SCIAC tournament championship and its first NCAA appearance, the P-P women’s basketball team (2-4, 0-0 SCIAC) is hungry for more.

However, with only two juniors, no seniors and a new head coach, the young Sagehens have struggled early on, losing three of their first six games by double digits.

“We are still learning to control the game and exploit our opponents’ weaknesses,” guard Renae Tamura PO ’21 said. “We want to be able to identify how the team can best score on offense and get stops on defense. These are things that we have not had a lot of experience with so far this season since we are only a few games in, but we are continuously working towards improving them in practice and games.”

The squad was voted to finish second in the SCIAC behind CMS in a recent preseason poll. Last year, the Hens were also seeded second after regular season play, but upset the Athenas in the conference final.

With conference play approaching in the coming weeks, the Hens will rely on their offensive firepower and perimeter shooting.

The team scored 92 points in a recent victory against Nebraska Wesleyan, including four players with double-digit scoring performances. Last season, the team averaged 72.1 points per game.

With even more shooters this season, our team is looking forward to getting them their shots in rhythm and gaining energy from them hitting,” Tamura said.

However, players also noted that they must improve on other areas of the floor if they want to achieve their goals: defending their SCIAC title and making it far in the NCAA tournament.

“The biggest thing that we are looking to improve from last year is our defense and rebounding,” Tamura said. “We aim to become a very defensive-focused team that is also really good at scoring.” 

P-P will open up SCIAC play Saturday at 2 p.m. at Occidental.

Athenas motivated by last year’s SCIAC tournament loss, show signs of dominance in preseason

After having their NCAA tournament aspirations thwarted by their Sixth Street rivals in a 60-57 loss in the championship game of the SCIAC tournament last season, the CMS women’s basketball team is looking for revenge.

The Athenas (5-0, 0-0 SCIAC) have started off the season hot, winning each of their first five games, including 19-point victories over Westmont and Willamette, an impressive 10-point win over Emory and a 104-70 thrashing of Nebraska Wesleyan. 

Against Nebraska Wesleyan, Lindsey Cleary CM ’20 recorded 23 points, 11 rebounds and two steals on an efficient 10 for 16 from the field. Kate Parrish CM ’21 put up a monstrous statline of 27 points, 22 rebounds (14 offensive), one steal and four blocks while shooting 7-for-10 from the field and a perfect 13-for-13 from the free throw line.

“Each game is a test of our ability to piece together four quarters where we can get stops on [defense], be aggressive and have high energy,” forward Cleary said. “Our focus on these ties into our larger goal of winning SCIACs and pushing forward into the NCAA tournament.”

The Athenas came in first in a recent SCIAC preseason poll and currently sit at No. 25 nationally. The team’s dominance thus far may serve as an indicator for things to come.

Having lost only three seniors to graduation, the Athenas boast an experienced and deep roster featuring eight upperclassmen and 13 returners.

“Our greatest strength is definitely our depth and talent. Everyone on the team … can bring the same amount of aggressiveness, scoring abilities and energy into the game,” Cleary said. “That makes us a tough team to play.”

The Athenas will next take on Hendrix on Friday at 3 p.m. in St. Louis and will play their first conference game at P-P on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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