When the Pomona-Pitzer men’s basketball team walked off of the court after the SCIAC championship against CMS on Feb. 27, the game wasn’t the only thing they had lost. As Coach Charles Katsiaficas pointed out, the end of that game signified the “end of an era” for Sagehen basketball.
Five members of the P-P basketball team will be graduating come May, and all have given significant contributions to the Sagehen program in their time running Rains. Four of the five players that started in the championship game were seniors.
David Liss PO ’10 is the play-making point guard who transferred to Pomona two years ago from UC-Berkeley, where he walked onto the basketball team. Liss said his first semester here was strange because “Justin, Kael, and Colin were all abroad, so I didn’t meet them until winter break when everyone came back for practice. It didn’t take long for us to bond though, and after a little while it felt like I had been one of the guys since freshman year.”
For the past two years, the Sagehens have turned to Liss whenever they needed something to happen late in the shot clock.
Despite his relatively short time at Pomona, Liss “thinks of all four other seniors as brothers.”
Liss debuted for the Sagehens as a junior and averaged 15.1 points per game to lead the team to a championship-game loss to CMS. As a senior, Liss scored 14.6 points per game and again came just short of a championship.
Adam Chaimowitz PO ’10 started alongside his “brother” Liss in the Sagehen back court. A deadeye three-point shooter, Chaimowitz has consistently shown the nerve to hit the big shot. Liss consistently referred to his back-court mate as “Mr. Clutch” this season. Meanwhile, fellow senior Kael Kristoff PO ‘10 counted some of Chaimowitz’s clutch exploits among his favorite memories from his time playing basketball. Kristoff highlighted a road win at CMS freshman year and the victory over Occidental to qualify for the playoffs this year as games that hinged on Chaimowitz three-pointers.
Kristoff, although not a starter, was the guy that P-P could turn to in a pinch. Most recently, his play helped energize the Sagehens in the championship game, and his three-point play almost closed the deficit with under two minutes to go. Liss describes him as “an excellent glue guy.” This attribute is easy for anyone in attendance to see. When in the game, Kristoff plays defense with abandon and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. When not in the game, he is usually the first person off the bench to pump his teammates up during a break in play.
Kristoff’s on-the-court contributions probably would have been far larger these past four years if it weren’t for Colin Reinstadt PI ’10. The two seniors had a “slightly more competitive relationship” according to Kristoff, because they were competing for playing time at the same position. Colin has been a defensive stalwart for the Sagehens over the past four years. Although he is the only senior not living in Clark I, all five hang out often off the basketball court.
Justin Sexton PO ’10 is the final member of this year’s senior class. The team’s starting center and tallest player – at 6’8” – Justin is the goofball of the group off the court. However, when he steps foot on the court he takes care of business. His importance to the team was exemplified by his performance in the Sagehens’ semifinal win over Cal Lutheran. Sexton scored 29 points, helping to keep the team in the game during the second half and first overtime.
None of the graduating Sagehens have plans to play basketball professionally, but all expect the game to continue to play a role in their lives.
Chaimowitz said he expects to “be in an old man league somewhere. Maybe in a few years I will be coaching somewhere too. That’s something I definitely want to end up doing.”
This sentiment was echoed by Liss, who said, “I’m definitely going to be involved with basketball in some capacity for the rest of my life.”
The team wanted to thank their coach for the past four years, Coach Kat.
Liss said, “I’m grateful to Coach Kat for giving me the opportunity to come in and contribute immediately.”
This gratitude was echoed by all of the other graduating seniors. Kristoff also wanted to thank his father, Jim, saying, “My dad has been one of the reasons that my basketball career was as fun as it was because he was there for all the best and worst parts of it and managed to make all of them better.”