Graham to play in All-Star game

Western Washington University men’s basketball guard Ira Graham has been selected to play in the 2009 National Association of Basketball Coaches/NCAA Division II All-Star Game at the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., on Friday, March 27 at 7 p.m. ET.
Graham, a 6-foot-1 senior from Fontana, Calif. (Fontana High School), was named to both the first-team NABC West District and Daktronics West Region all-star squads.  He will play for the West team.

The Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Graham finished his four-year career with 1,465 points, tying him for seventh among school leaders.  He scored 515 points as a senior, becoming the first Western player to have two 500-point seasons.

Graham, a two-time, first-team league all-star, helped the Vikings to a 21-6 record, the school’s first outright GNAC title and the first round of the NCAA II West Regional.  He averaged 19.1 points, being held under double figures in just two games, and 3.2 assists.

Graham was Western’s top scorer and ranked second among GNAC point leaders in each of the last two seasons.

“It’s certainly a high honor and one that is well deserved,” Western coach Brad Jackson (24th year, 445-256) said of Graham’s selection. “Ira has had one of the outstanding individual seasons in the West Region, and he will be an excellent representative of our university.”

Graham will be the second Viking to compete in the NABC DII all-star contest.  Western’s Ryan Diggs participated in the inaugural game in 2006, receiving co-MVP honors.

The all-star game is comprised of teams from the East and West, with at least two players from each of the eight NCAA II regions competing in the contest.   The all-stars will attend both the NCAA II Men’s Basketball Championship semifinals, March 26, and the national championship game, March 28, being recognized during halftime of a semifinal game.

The 20 participants in the all-star game were chosen from a pool of 265 teams in Division II.

 

Broncos throttle favored BYU-Hawaii

Cal Poly Pomona 59

BYU-Hawaii 58

LAIE, Hawaii – The thought crossed one’s mind as the Brigham Young University Hawaii pep band played “Eye of the Tiger” – the theme song from the motion picture Rocky III – prior to the Seasiders-Cal Poly Pomona NCAA Division II West Region title game.

The thought: Well, if Rocky could deliver an upset, why not the Broncos?

And what an upset it was.

On Wednesday night in the nation’s 50th state, Rocky showed his face again in the form of the Cal Poly Pomona Broncos men’s basketball team, which took on No. 3 Brigham Young Hawaii, winners of 24 straight and the West Region’s top seed.

Senior Larry Gordon (Pomona) placed a put-back shot with 3.6 seconds left and the Broncos went on to upset the host Seasiders 59-58 before a raucous crowd of 4,221 at the Canon Center.

“We didn’t change anything that we hadn’t done all season,” said coach Greg Kamansky, who will lead his Broncos to their third NCAA Elite Appearance in the last seven years. “We spread the court and played decisive. I thought we played tentative for the first 35 minutes.”

The Broncos will face Central champion Southwest Minnesota State on Wednesday afternoon in Springfield, Mass., in the opening round of the Elite Eight.

Inside the game’s five minutes, the Broncos took control. Trailing 56-43 with 6:39, the Broncos held off the athletic Seasiders with a shocking 16-2 run to end the game.

What was even more surprising was the fact that the Broncos held BYUH without a field goal in that span. Seasiders’ senior Lucas Alves hit a pair of free throws with 35 seconds left to give his team a 58-57 lead.

After Alves’ free throws, the Broncos called time out. They brought the ball up court. Gordon held the ball and drove inside. He placed a shot that missed, but he rebounded the ball and placed it up off the glass and dropped through with 3.6 seconds remaining.

“We were going to work it on a ball screen,” said Gordon, who finished the night with 18 points, 15 rebounds and was named the West Region’s Most Outstanding Player. “The defender over played and put up a shot. I was able to rebound, put it back and I’m thankful that it found a way to drop through the net.”

The double-double was Gordon’s 11th on the season and his 34th in his career. In his three West Region games he secured a double-double in each game and totaled 74 points and 38.

“To be down 13 and come back … we believe in what coach says,” Gordon said. “He told us to calm down, slow down and dig down on defense.”

BYUH built its largest lead of the game (42-27) on a 3-pointer by Alves with 14:11 remaining.

CPP answered, though, with a 10-2 run in the next two minutes when junior Dahir Nasser drove in and scored a layup with 12:12 and BYUH leading, 44-37.

Cal Poly Pomona made its exasperating run when it trailed 56-43 with 6:39 remaining. A pair of layups from Tobias Jahn (Babenhausen, Germany) and junior Robert Summers (Los Angeles) cut the lead to inside 10 at 56-47.

Summers hit the second of two free throws and Gordon hit a pair of free throws and the Broncos drew within 6 at 56-50 with 3:21 left.

BYUH turned the ball over twice on its next two possessions and Jahn drove inside with a strong layup and the Broncos got inside five points – 56-52 for the first time since the first three minutes of the game.

The Seasiders had a chance to increase its lead back to six, but Alves missed two free throws; a rare occurrence for the 75 percent shooter on the season.

The Broncos drove and kicked the ball out to Thompson, who buried a 3-pointer – his second on the game – and CPP silenced the crowd as it drew within one point at 56-55 with 1:47 left.

BYUH missed two jump shots – one by Nathan Sims and the other from Jermaine Odjegba – and the Broncos earned their first lead of the game on Jahn’s two free throws with 53 seconds left.

Jahn, who joined Gordon on the West Region All-Tournament team, scored 14 points with three assists. Junior Austin Swift (Santa Cruz) scored nine points – all in the first half – before fouling out of the game with 6:39 left.

Sims scored 11 and Trenson Akana had 10 for the Seasiders, who finished the season 27-2.

The Broncos held BYUH to a shocking 34 points below its season average of 92 points. The Seasiders’ 58 points was their lowest of the season.

Broncos headed to Elite Eight

By Michelle Gardner

Staff Writer

Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball coach Greg Kamansky arrived at Honolulu International Airport Thursday morning a tired man. Most of his players were up all night too. No the group wasn’t up all night celebrating, although they had reason to do so after upsetting heavily favored Brigham Young-Hawaii 59-58 for the West Region championship late Wednesday night.

That win gives the Broncos a (23-7) berth in the Elite Eight which
starts next Wednesday at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, Mass. It will be the school’s third trip in Kamansky’s nine-year tenure.

The thought of playing for a national championship wasn’t far from their minds but there was something of more immediate concern – final exams. The players missed them earlier this week, so they’ll be taking them today after a long flight on little sleep.

“They’re completely exhausted,” Kamansky said. “We had guys up all night working on their laptops. Some of the guys were tutoring other guys. It would be nice if they could really enjoy this. ”

It has been a whirlwind week for the Broncos. And it isn’t quite
over. Their journey started out at Western Washington University a week ago where the resilient group turned back local rival Cal State San Bernardino (83-81 in overtime) on Friday, then beat Seattle Pacific (80-72) on Satuerday in the West Sub-region in Bellingham, Wash.

The Broncos left Seattle Monday to fly to Hawaii in preparation for Wednesday’s game. They arrived back in Southern California late Thursday but will be back on a plane to fly cross country on Sunday.

The rigorous travel schedule makes the run even more impressive.

Kamansky draws a lot of parallels between this run and the one his team made in 2003, its first trip to the Elite Eight. On that
occasion the Broncos won that berth by beating San Bernardino in double overtime.

“I can’t say one was better than another,” he said Thursday morning by phone just before catching the flight. “That was the first time we made it and it really put us on the map. I would say this one has been a little more improbable because of all we overcame to get to this point.”

The Broncos lost two key players before the season started and were down to as few as seven healthy players for one game. They were just 5-5 through the first round of CCAA play and had to run the table the last 10 games just to tie for the regular season conference title.

Wednesday’s foe also was a formidable one. The Seasiders (27-2) came in ranked third nationally and were playing on their home floor, the Cannon Activity Center, in front of a boisterous crowd of 4,200. And they hadn’t lost a game in two months.

The Seasiders like to push the tempo and came in averaging 92 points a game yet Cal Poly dictated the pace early and only trailed 28-23 at the half.

The home team led by as many as 15 points, that lead coming at 42-27 on a 3-pointer by West Region Player of the Year Lucas Alves with 13:57 to go.

The Broncos were still down by double digits late at 56-43 with 6:40 to play. But who would have thought the Seasiders would go the rest
of the game without a field goal.

The Broncos ended the game on a 16-2 run, finally taking their first lead of the contest at 57-56 on a pair of free throws by sophomore
forward Tobias Jahn with 51 seconds left. The Seasiders then battled back at their end with Alves nailing two free throws after a foul had
been called on Jahn with 34 seconds to go.

That set the stage for yet another dramatic finish. The Broncos moved the ball up court with superstar Larry Gordon doing much of the work.
He gave the ball up but got it back after two other passes. His first shot from close in was off the mark but he outhustled three Seasiders
for the ball and put the rebound up and in for the decisive points, sending the Cal Poly sideline into celebration with three seconds
left.

Gordon, who tallied 74 points and 38 rebounds in three games, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Jahn, who had 14
against the Seasiders, also was named to the All-Tournament team.

 
Gordon’s 15 rebounds Wednesday gave him 928 for his career, just seven behind career leader Paul Scranton (1963-66).

“We stayed just close enough,” Kamanasky said. “With seven minutes left I knew we just needed a little bit of a run to get us close. I
thought it would rejuvenate us and they might tighten up. That’s pretty much what happened. Our guys never quit.”

The weary Broncos won’t practice today but will do so on Saturday at Kellogg Gymnasium.

They will be the only team in the Elite Eight not nationally ranked. Their quarterfinal game will be against Central Region champion
Southwest Minnesota State (28-6), ranked No. 12 in the last NABC poll. Other matchups will pit No. 1 Findlay (Ohio) against No. 2 C.W.
Post, No. 5 Gannon (Penn.) against No. 6 Central Missouri and No. 4 Augusta State (Ga.) against No. 15 Christian Brothers (Tenn.).

Broncos poised and ready for BYU-Hawaii

The Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball team is peaking at the right time. It’s a good thing because now coach Greg Kamansky’s squad will be facing its most formidable foe thus far.

The Broncos will play Brigham Young-Hawaii on Wednesday in the Division II West Region final. Game time is 7:30 p.m. Hawaii time which is 10:30 p.m. our time. BYU has a television network so those with Direct TV should be able to get the game.

BYU Hawaii is ranked third in the country and has won 24 straight games while the Broncos (22-7) have won 13 of their last 14.

The Seasiders are the favorite but they also play in a very weak Pacific West Conference and the they don’t leave the island to seek out better competition either. So how good are they really? No one really knows. They do have a great player in Lucas Alves though.

The Broncos do have the benefit of being battle tested because of the quality and depth of teams in the CCAA. The Broncos also seem unfazed my the magnitude of the game and they have a stellar leader on and off the court in senior Larry Gordon.

The Broncos are headed to Hawaii today and will practice in the venue on Tuesday.

Kamansky has already been named conference and West region Coach of the Year for good reason. The way the season started few would have guessed his team would still be playing. It has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Sometimes those are the teams that are the most dangerous.

Montgomery rounding out career at Cal State

Devin Montgomery has heard all the lines before. He’s so old he’ll be collecting social security before his eligibility runs out. He is so old he looks more like a coach than a player.

It is rare a day goes by when he doesn’t hear it from a teammate or coach at least once.

The Cal State San Bernardino senior point guard may not be up in years when it comes to everyday life. But at 28, he is indeed an elder statesman on the hardwood. The series of events that derailed his playing career for more than six years make him even more appreciative of the chance he has to finish it off in style.

Montgomery helped the Coyotes to their eighth CCAA regular season title in 10 years, as well as a conference tournament championship.

Next up is the Division II West Sub-regional which starts today at
Western Washington University. The Coyotes (20-9) will square off against local rival Cal Poly Pomona at 5 tonight .

“They tease me about it all the time.” Montgomery said about the age gap between him and his teammates. “I do have to do a better job of taking care of my body and getting ready to play. I feel it the most when I try and dunk.”

Cal State is Montgomery’s fourth and final stop on the collegiate
circuit which started with one-year stints at Duquesne, then Moorpark Community College.

 

He spent his junior season at Pepperdine in 2001-02, the highlight being an NCAA Tournament appearance against
Wake Forest in which he scored 18 points in an 83-74 loss at Arco Arena in Sacramento.

Despite that loss he looked forward to his senior season because the team had most of its starters back and the experience of being in the playoffs would be something to build upon. That never happened.

Two days before school started , Montgomery’s maternal grandmother Ernestine Morgan, who helped raise him, collapsed and died at the family home.

He was hoping the sport would provide a refuge to help him escape the grief he was still feeling three months later. Then that was taken from him too – four games into the season. He was driving the lane and going up for a shot when an opponent from Cal State Fullerton went up to defend, only to come down hard on his hand.

Montgomery came out of the game for a few minutes to ice his hand but finished the game. When the adrenalin had worn off he knew something wasn’t right.

“I never felt pain like that before,” he said. “To this day I
still hate Cal State Fullerton because of that.”

An X-ray taken the next day revealed that the ligament had torn away from the bone. Rehabilitation didn’t work and he ended up having surgery in December.

Montgomery couldn’t travel with the team. He was on several
painkillers. And now he was without basketball. The lack of structure or an outlet for his frustrations showed. He started skipping classes and his grades suffered. He alienated himself from his teammates.

Even his closest friends had trouble getting through to him.

“We tried to stop by and get him out of the house, take him to the movies. Anything to get his mind off things,” recalled T.K. Reed,his friend since travel ball and a former player at Cal State.

“He was having a hard time dealing with things.”

Then came another curveball. Montgomery became a father as son Devin Jr. was born in March of 2004. The thought of college basketball was the furthest thing from his mind. He took odd jobs just to help make
ends meet. He worked at basketball camps and did some private coaching just to stay in the game.

Montgomery always wanted to go back to finish school and use his last year of eligibility but that plan was put on hold – again and again
and again. His priority was his son whom he had custody of for the first two years. He kept promising mother Sharon Morgan, a
registered nurse at Los Angeles County Medical Center, he would go back but it became a standing joke.

“She went back after 10 years so she told me I had 10 years,” Montgomery said with a laugh. “I almost used it all.”

He talked with Reed several times about finally getting back on the court and his longtime friend put him in touch with Oliver.

 The Coyote boss remembered seeing him play when he scouted Reed, who played in the same backcourt with Montgomery at Moorpark.

But it wasn’t that easy. He had transferred so many times a lot of his college credits didn’t apply so he had to take several summer
classes to get back in good enough academic standing to be eligible.

The rest is history. Montgomery earned first-team all-conference honors and heads into the regional ranked fifth in scoring (14.3 ppg)
, shooting .493 percent from the field and .754 from the line.

“I was willing to give the old man a chance,” Oliver said with a laugh. “I knew he could play even though it had been awhile, a long
while.”

Montgomery got off to a great start, totaling 76 points in his first three games. After a bit of slump midway through the season he is
delivering again. Oliver said the turning point was a closed-door meeting he had with Montgomery after a 73-71 overtime loss to Cal
Poly – the same team the Coyotes face today.

“He wasn’t aggressive enough and wasn’t playing at the speed at which I knew he could play. He’s never exactly been a jet but I
didn’t want him playing in slow motion either. I told him if he wasn’t going to do that I would put someone in who would.”

The Coyotes lost the next game but then reeled off seven straight wins, a streak they hope to extend today. Montgomery dished out a
season-high 12 assists in a 79-77 CCAA Tournament quarterfinal win over Sonoma State, one of the helpers being a picture perfect entry pass to Brandon Brown for a game-winning dunk.

“It’s nice to see him enjoying the game again,” Reed said. “I knew he still had it in him.”

Maybe you always can go back again.

Broncos to play BYU-Hawaii

The Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball team polished off
Seattle Pacific Friday night 80-72, then retreated to a Bellingham, Wash. hotel room where several players fired up their laptops to see what was going on in Hawaii. CCAA brethren Cal State Dominguez Hills was playing at Brigham Young Hawaii and the Broncos were awaiting the winner of that game.

Hawaii it will be.

That was just fine for veteran coach Greg Kamansky and his resilient squad.

If the Toros had won the Broncos would have gotten a home game. But players said they preferred to play BYU-Hawaii, not because the exotic location proved more inviting than the confines of Kellogg Gymnasium or because one foe was more beatable than the other.

“We have final exams on Tuesday,” senior standout Larry Gordon said. “If we go back we have to take them. If we don’t it can wait a few days.”

Kamansky was also taking the news in stride.

“We have a group of guys that really enjoy being together and when you have a group like that being on the road can be an even better bonding experience. It has helped our guys grow even closer together.”

Kamansky acknowledged that his most excited player is senior Jimmy Miyasaka, a walk-on from Honolulu who plays sparingly. His parents were in to see him play here on senior night but his grandparents have never seen him play in person.

The Broncos (22-7) drove the 100 miles from Bellingham to Seattle on Sunday and will be flying from Seattle to Hawaii this morning in preparation for Wednesday’s Division II West Regional title game against the Seasiders (27-1) who are ranked third nationally and riding a 24-game win streak.

BYU may be the top seed in the region but the Broncos are playing well too. Cal Poly has won 13 of its last 14 games, the lone loss in that stretch coming to Cal State Monterey Bay in the semifinals of the CCAA Tournament.

Among those wins was a thrilling 83-81 overtime win against local rival Cal State San Bernardino in Friday’s regional quarterfinal at Western Washington University. Gordon has been the driving force in the two regional victories thus far, totaling 56 points, 23 rebounds and seven assists.

In the win over Seattle Pacific it wasn’t just Gordon doing the
damage. The Broncos shot 66.7 percent (30-for-45) as a team with Gordon, Tobias Jahn and Walter combining to go 23-for-26 from the field.

BYU-Hawaii , which advanced to the national semifinal last season, is led by 6-foot-9 Brazilian Lucas Alves (19.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg) whom Kamansky thinks has the potential to play in the NBA.

There are some Southern California connections as the team also includes former Citrus College standout Virgil Buensuceso (10.3 ppg, 6.2 apg), a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award which goes annually to the nation’s top point guard, as well as former College of the Desert standout Nathan Sims (12.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg).

The winner of Wednesday’s game advances to the Elite Eight slated for March 26-29 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.

Redlands player honored by SCIAC

University of Redlands junior center fielder Kayla Peterson (San Jose, CA) was named the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Female Athlete of the Week for her outstanding contributions during the Bulldogs’ doubleheader sweep against Cal Lutheran University on March 7, 2009.
 

Playing a vital role in the Bulldogs’ two victories over the Regals, Peterson went 4-for-5 for an .800 batting average to go along with a slugging percentage of 1.600 and an on-base mark of .833.  She was perfect in the outfield with one putout. During the 13-5 win in the first game, she was a home run short of the cycle but batted in a career-high six runs while crossing the plate once.

 

The male winner for last week was Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ Max Rose, a pitcher/outfielder for the Stag baseball team.

 

The SCIAC Sports Information Directors nominate and vote on the athletes of the week every Tuesday.

 

Locals earn NABC honors

The honors just keep coming for Cal State San Bernardino junior center Brandon Brown and senior guard Devin Montgomery.

The National Association of Basketball Coaches announced their all-West Region team in NCAA Division II and Brown was voted to the first team and Montgomery to the second team.

Brown, a 6-7 postman who was all-CCAA conference first-team, the CCAA’s newcomer of the year and MVP of the CCAA tournament, is now eligible to be considered for the NABC all-America teams that will be announced at the Elite Eight in Springfield, Mass later this month.

Earlier last week, Brown was voted by sports information directors in the West Region to the Daktronics all-West Region first team.

Montgomery, a 6-foot guard, was an all-CCAA first-team selection.

Joining Brown on the NABC all-region first team were Larry Gordon of Cal Poly Pomona, Lucas Alves of BYU-Hawaii, Michael Hernandez of Cal State Dominguez Hills, Ira Graham of Western Washington and Jake Linton of Saint Martin’s.

Along with Montgomery, the other second-teamers on the NABC all-star teams were Jerrell Smith of CSU Dominguez Hills, Zac Tiedeman of Humboldt State, Matt Penoncello of Central Washington, Kenny Barker of Alaska Anchorage and Jay DeMaestri of Hawaii Hilo.

Greg Kamansky of Cal Poly Pomona was voted coach of the year by the NABC.

Brown led the CCAA in scoring at 21.5 points per game, was No. 3 in rebounding at 8.7 rebounds per game, No.4 in field goal percentage (56.0), No. 1 in blocked shots (39 – 1.7/game) and No. 1 in offensive rebounds per game (2.8). He was the team leader in all those categories.

Montgomery was No. 6 in the CCAA in scoring (14.3 ppg), No. 12 in field goal percentage (49.8), No. 9 in assists (3.1/game), No. 7 in 3-point FG percentage (40.7). He led the team in assists (94) and averaged 2.4 rebounds a game and shot 75 percent from the foul line.

 

 

Broncos, Coyotes get set for big game

The Cal State San Bernardino and Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball teams have had some great games in the past. Both have great coaches and quality athletes. Each game just adds to the rivalry.

The team split games this season with one of those decided in overtime.

So it is probably fitting that they are going to be squaring off on neutral ground in a West Regional quarterfinal at Western Washington University in Bellingham.

The coaches like and respect each other, as do the players. The teams are travel partners so for much of the season they’re on the same flight when it comes to road trips, especially with each within sneezing distance of the same airport.

Both teams will leave on Wednesday in preparation for Friday’s game. As usual they will be on the same flight. It’s one thing for that to be the norm during the regular season. But this is a playoff game with everything on the line.

So that will be a little awkward.

Since this is a playoff tournament the NCAA makes the arrangements, as opposed to the schools making their own as they do during the regular season. There are enough flights out of Ontario that probably didn’t need to happen.

But at least one won’t be faced with some travel problem the other doesn’t.

The winner plays again on Saturday, about the same time the losing team will be arriving home. At least they won’t be on the same flight then.

Fontana’s Graham earns GNAC honors

Former Fontana High School standout Ira Graham is finishing his collegiate career in fine fashion. Graham, a 6-foot guard at Division II Western Washington, has been named Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

Graham helped the Vikings to a 21-5 record and their first outright GNAC championship in the eight-year history of the conference.

Western Washington, which shared the GNAC title in 2002 and 2005, is the No. 2 seed and will host one of two sub-regional tournaments beginning Friday at Sam Carver Gymnasium. Cal State San Bernardino and Cal Poly Pomona will be playing in that event.

Graham finished third in the conference in scoring this winter averaging 18.7 points per game and also ranked 10th in steals, averaging 1.2 per game. He made 53.3 percent of his shots.

He has always had good games against the locals schools and is hoping he gets one last chance to square off against them.