The season has ended for the Pierce College men’s basketball team as they step off the court with two wins out of a total of 24 games.
Despite winning their last game, which was against Cuesta College on Saturday, the team has not qualified to proceed on to the regional finals that will continue through March.
“We are a very young team with little experience,” said head coach Edward Babayan. “We played the season with nine freshmen and two sophomores.”
The team also beat Santa Barbara City College on Jan. 6. The team had to forfeit a game against Ventura College on Feb. 6.
This was the first season for the players; a clerical error on an eligibility form forced the team to forfeit all but one of their wins in the 2006-07 season, dropping their record from 17-11 to 1-27.
Assistant coach Sean Edwardsen praised the determination of the team through the past few months.
Though the season didn’t start well, “they never gave up,” Edwardsen said. “They came out and gave it their all, continuing to fight, though the record doesn’t show it.”
Sophomore Michael Mahlum, a 20-year old business major and forward on the team, agreed that he and his teammates “played hard” this season, but are now focusing towards upcoming practices.
“We’re just going to train hard during the off-season,” said Mahlum.
All thoughts are now set on the future. Athletic director Bob Lofrano said it was a “disappointing season, but we’re looking ahead to next season,” when more students may join the team.
“We need the right mixture of guys who have ability and work ethic as a team,” Lofrano said.
The coaches are expecting many recruits in the coming months.
“We have lots of people coming who can contribute to a great season next year,” said Edwardsen.
For Babayan, coaching is all about the growth of the players.
“Priority number one is making the students good basketball players and helping them towards scholarships,” Babayan said. “The wins are just bonuses.”
Brad Katz, another assistant coach, agrees.
“Obviously we struggled, as the record shows,” Katz said, “but we grew as a team in the process. With our returning players and the new recruits I think we’ll have a good nucleus that will allow us to be very competitive in the future.”
The team will resume training in mid-March in preparation for the start of the new season in November. Katz looks forward to it.
“The future is very bright,” he said.