Chaffey College will host an eight-team men’s basketball tournament starting Friday. The Panthers (11-5) open up at 1 p.m. against Long Beach City (3-10) in the first of four games at the college’s sports center.
Citrus (13-3) will play Compton (13-3) at 7 p.m., the final game.
The field also includes College of the Desert (3-11), Glendale (8-6), Pasadena (5-10) and Palomar (7-7).
Panthers coach Jeff Klein said he started the event out of need. In the past the Panthers had started Foothill Conference play right after the new year. But with that conference disbanding and teams scattered in difference conferences, most now don’t start play until the middle of the month. That left a two week void when teams least need it.
“It really came out of need,” said Klein, also the school’s athletic director. “When we saw the schedule in the spring we saw that gap there . When we decided to do this it came together pretty quickly because there were a lot of schools in the same boat.”
Klein is hoping the home event helps his team get is energy back. The Panther won
six of their first seven gamed, the highlight in that stretch a win over then-No. 1 Saddleback on Nov. 19. It is just 5-4 since then.
He admits maybe his players got a little too high on themselves and also said the target on his team anyway after reaching the state semifinals in three of the last four years.
“We came back from Thanksgiving and haven’t been the same,” he said. “Hopefully having some home games and playing in this we can get back to where we were in November. I still think we have good potential.”
Sophomore point guard Brian Beard, a product of Rancho Cucamonga, is the team’s leading scorer (15.3 ppg). Sophomore guard Kameron Curl is also in double figures (14.3 ppg).
The Citrus squad boasts several local players, most notably freshman forwards Khlail Williams (Los Osos) and Kyle Gray (Bonita) and sophomore guard K.C. Cyprian (Chino Hills). Cyprian is the team’s second-leading scorer (11.1 ppg) with Williams also in double figures (10.6 ppg) with sophomore Tyler LaCour (Etiwanda) close (9.9 ppg).
The semifinals are at noon and 4 on Saturday with consolation games with a consolation games at 2 and 6. The final will be Sunday at 4 with third place game at 2.