Leopards end season with home loss against Sagehens

Senior guard Isaiah Knox (3) drives the ball into the paint while blocking an opposing Sagehen on Monday’s senior night at the Frantz Athletic Court. The Leopards end their season 3-11 in SCIAC play. / photo by Jashelle Ranson
Senior guard Isaiah Knox (3) drives the ball into the paint while blocking an opposing Sagehen on Monday’s senior night at the Frantz Athletic Court. The Leopards end their season 3-11 in SCIAC play. / photo by Jashelle Ranson

Eric Esquibel
Staff Writer

The men’s basketball team ended its season with a 90-61 loss to the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens at senior night Monday at the Frantz Athletic Court.

The loss came after a 73-69 win on the road against the Occidental Tigers on Saturday. The Leopards end the season 6-18 overall and 3-11 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, with their three conference wins coming in February. But the late run was not enough and they fell one win short of a SCIAC playoff berth.

“Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way,” head coach Richard Reed said. “We went through a lot of turmoil this year dealing with COVID and this was the smallest roster we’ve had. None of those are excuses but I am really proud of the way our team battled back through all of the adversity. This team could have mailed it in and quit, and the fact that we were playing for a conference berth at the last game of the season – I do not think you can ask for anything more than that.”

The Leopards won the opening tip-off and both teams started the game with back-and-forth scoring shots. La Verne senior forward Seth Shaw scored the first three consecutive baskets after two assists by junior guard Paul Antonis.

After an evenly matched shootout by both the Leopards and the Sagehens, Antonis scored a block followed by Shaw making the basket from an assist by senior guard Isaiah Knox. The Leopards kept a short lead a few minutes into the half but could not hold as the Sagehens began connecting.

Half way through the first period, the Leopards offense was kept alive by baskets and multiple defensive efforts from the starters. Shaw began the game on a hot-streak of scoring but was soon subbed out. In the first half of the game, he scored seven points, which all came within the first few possessions for the Leopards.

“I thought we started off the season pretty slow,” said Shaw. “We ended off the season very well, we really came together toward the later half of the conference season.”

Shaw finished his senior season averaging nearly 14 points on 58% from the field and eight rebounds per game. He finishes his collegiate basketball career with 411 points, 284 rebounds and 93 assists.

Toward the end of the half, junior guard Brian Adams got a block on the Sagehens and Antonis scrambled to the ball to recover for a reverse layup.

The Leopards went into halftime down, 43-28.

Junior guard Brad Yasukochi and Adams opened up the second half with a pair of layups and defensive stops but it was not enough to cut into the Sagehens’ lead. Antonis kept the Leopards in the game with multiple jump shots and trips to the free throw line. He ended the game with 21 points, four rebounds and two blocks.

After more than tripling his average points per game from five in his 2019 season to 16 points per game in his junior season, Antonis looks to grow other aspects of is game going into his senior year.

“I look to improve my defense,” he said. “Especially, I need to get in the gym. I know what I need to work on defensively so getting better on the defensive end and perfect my jump shot still.”

Knox kept high pressure on the Sagehens in his final college game, scoring the last few buckets for the Leopards. He hit a jumper and a running layup in his final 10 minutes and even earned two steals on the final Sagehens drives.

“Basketball is a part of my life. My whole family everybody plays basketball, ever since a young age. After school I was in the gym all day,” said Knox. “That was the only thing that keeps my mind off of things. It’s the sport I love and I love to play it. I’m not ready to give it up.”

Eric Esquibel can be reached at eric.esquibel@laverne.edu.

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Eric Esquibel, a senior broadcast journalism major, is a staff writer for the Campus Times.

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Jashelle Ranson, a junior photography major and business administration minor, is a staff photographer for the Campus Times and La Verne Magazine.

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