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arab men win finale

February 21, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN

Sports Writer

In the record books the Imperial Valley College men's basketball team's win over San Diego Mesa will simply go down as a 72-69 Pacific Coast Conference victory at IVC on Wednesday.

But in the plan laid out by Arab head coach Nick Gehler, the triumph wasn't just a win.

"I definitely would say that this is a turning point for us, as a program. The way the guys on the team have been playing, the fact that they're still practicing hard despite the wins and losses, with this big win, I think we've turned the corner," said Gehler.

"We've been in a lot of the games we've played and have had opportunities to win, but just haven't been able to get those wins, but tonight we were able to beat a pretty good team. I think our guys are now understanding that they can win at this level."


With the win, IVC improved to 5-18 overall and picked up its second conference victory of the season. The Arabs also played spoiler by knocking Mesa out of post-season consideration.

IVC won the victory by playing solid defense. The Arabs held the Olympians' leading scorer, Eric Thompson, who averaged 20 points per game, to only 10.

"I thought Nate Moore did an excellent job on holding him (Thompson)," Gehler said. "As a whole, I was really happy with our guys. From top to bottom they played a really good game. This goes back to the guys doing the little things. They're doing things on the court as well as off it and I think that really has made a difference."

On the court against Mesa, the bulk of the offense came from four players. Michael Jayne and Brandon Warner each scored 16 points, Ian McKeithen tallied 13 and Glen Ellis added 10.

Down 30-23 with three minutes, 23 seconds to play in the first half, Warner scored six of the team's final eight points to bring the team within a point at 32-31 at the break.

"We knew we had to come out and play hard. It's near the end of the season and coach was just telling us not to let down, even though the year's almost over," said Warner. "The good thing about this win was that everyone on the team contributed."

McKeithen, Ellis and Jayne stepped up in the second half, combining for 30 of the team's 41 points.

Jayne's 13 second-half points may have been the biggest as he hit three three-pointers, one to pull the team within two points and another that gave IVC a 59-57 lead.

With less than 30 seconds to play, the Arabs nursed a one-point lead; it was a field goal by Jayne that sealed the game.

"It was good to win this game, it being our last home game of the year. All the players on the team came through," said Jayne. "For me, I was just playing into the game and not forcing anything and keeping everyone involved."

Jayne, the team's point guard, is one of 11 freshmen on the team and is already looking ahead to next season.

"I think this win will give us momentum for next year. With most of us being freshmen, and most of the other teams in the conference playing mostly with sophomores, I think we'll be able to kill other teams next year," Jayne said.

IVC (2-11 PCC) wrap ups the season on the road as it travels to play at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon on Saturday.

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