Chaffey men off to strong start

The Chaffey men’s basketball team is off to a 9-2 start, finishing first in the Grossmont Tournament over the weekend. Coach Jeff Klein’s team surged past Southwestern 96-74, Cuesta 79-73 and Cypress 97-85.

“I really like this team,” he said. “I thought we had more depth than last year, I just didn’t know how it would all come together because we have so many new players. I thought we had some talent last year, but there were so many ups and downs I never got a handle on it.”

The Panthers have gotten stellar play out of several individuals, most notably sophomore guard Lamar Williams (11.8 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game, 2.1 assists per game), who was named most valuable player in that tournament. He played sparingly two years ago then sat out last season but returned bigger and stronger.

“Two years ago he was the youngest player on a veteran team and I think his confidence got a little rattled,” Klein said. “He has come back a stronger, more mature player.”

Also averaging double figures are sophomore Nicklas Turner (14.6 ppg) and freshman guard Anthony Cammon (10.3 ppg), with sophomore Winston Robinson (9.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg) close.

Klein said the biggest improvement in his team has come at point guard where several players are shouldering the load. Williams and Jamal Sloan (6 ppg, 1.8 apg) are the veterans with Cammon and freshmen Trone Jackson and Andre Perkins also seeing time there.

Klein thinks as many as six teams could win the Foothill Conference with Chaffey in the mix. The traditional powers Antelope Valley, Mt. San Jacinto, San Bernardino and College of the Desert will all be formidable foes, as will a much-improved Victor valley team.

But next up for the Panthers is a tournament which starts Thursday at Rio Hondo. Chaffey faces Glendale in the first round.