On Nov. 20, the CPP men’s basketball team traveled to La Mirada, California to play against Biola University at the Chase Gymnasium, defeating the opposing team with a 60-49 final score. Entering the game with three consecutive non-conference wins, the victory gave the Broncos a 4-0 record.
Throughout the first half, the Broncos maintained control of the game, reaching halftime with a score of 28-20. At the start of the second half, Biola went on an 8-0 run to tie the game 28-28. Initially struggling to preserve their lead during the match, the Broncos did not waste time in finding their footing and claiming victory.
According to Head Coach Greg Kamansky, the team struggled to find a consistent rhythm of play, given the number of new players who joined the team this season. However, his hopes of dominating future conference matches remain intact.
“We’re just happy to play basketball. You know the old cliche: if something gets taken away, you don’t realize how important it is until it gets taken away,” Kamansky said. “We pretty much have almost a whole new team so we’re basically starting with a lot of new players, new stuff going on and so, to be honest, we don’t know what to expect.”
For senior guard Phoenix Shackelford, who finished the game with 10 points, four rebounds and two steals, this season is special. It will be his last before graduating.
“Basketball is my life; it’s everything to me,” Shackelford said. “I was trying to find every way to play basketball. They were taking the hoops down at local parks, so I had to drive like 30 minutes just to play basketball.”
Despite the struggles the team faced in establishing player dynamics on the court, Kamansky believes the Broncos retaliated against Biola’s aggressive offense well.
“What I was most proud of is that we responded,” Kamansky said. “After they caught us, we didn’t fold, and it was a good experience for us. I was really happy about that.”
One of the few returning players on the team, senior guard and forward Tavian Henderson has made continuous efforts to be vocal and use his experience to help his teammates.
“I try to use that to my advantage to be able to lead our team and whatever that may be whether that’s directing the core with play calls or calling out certain spots that guys need to be,” Henderson said. “That’s one of my main goals is going to games: to make sure we’re situated and putting ourselves in the best position to win the game whether that’s offensively or defensively.”
Henderson ended the game with his first collegiate double-double, with 12 points and 12 rebounds. The team finished the game shooting 45.3% over Biola’s 34.5%.
Advancing in conference play, Kamansky is specifically focused on playing each game more strategically than the last. Because each matchup is different, the Broncos will have to adapt to each opposing team as the season progresses, according to Kamansky.
“Our end goal is making the NCAA tournament,” Kamansky said. “Our region’s really tough, but that’s our ultimate goal. Anything can happen if we prove we can win games and we won a championship one year. So, making the tournament and then hopefully we’re prepared and ready to go from there.”
After defeating Stanislaus State 66-54 on Dec. 2, the Broncos now have an overall record of 5-1.