The Glendale College men's basketball team, which had a fast start but a slow regular-season finish, will play a regional playoff game at Citrus College on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Glendale (21-9) tied for second place with Canyons and Moorpark in the Western State Conference. Citrus (15-13) finished fourth in the Orange Empire Conference.
The winner Saturday will play South Coast Conference champion Cerritos to determine which team will go to the state community college tournament March 12 to 14 at Loyola Marymount University.
"Our team has proven that it can rise to the occasion when it has to," Glendale Coach Brian Beauchemin said. "We won two tournaments, and the players have proven they can respond in key situations. We're weather-tested. I hope we can just get it going."
Citrus beat the Vaqueros, 88-79, in the championship game of the Palomar tournament this season. The Owls, however, have since lost guard Trevor Houston.
"We've changed a lot since we played Glendale," Citrus Coach Neil Edwards said. "We're not as quick or as good at outside shooting."
Citrus' strength is in the front court. Both Kevin Kurz and Reggie Brown are averaging 19 points and 9 rebounds a game.
Glendale has been led all season by sophomore forward David Djolakian, who is averaging 20.4 points and 7.3 rebounds.
"I don't think we can stop Djolakian," Edwards said. "But hopefully we can contain him. And when you go 21-9 like they did, it's obvious he's not their only player."
Glendale forward Eldridge Hodge is averaging 14.5 points and 6 rebounds. Guards Dimitrius Duncan and Jesse Ellis are averaging 13.8 and 11 points.
Glendale, however, lost its last three games to Canyons, Santa Monica and Bakersfield. The Vaqueros, who early in the season were one of the best shooting teams in the state, shot just 29% against Canyons and were held to just three points in the last 11 minutes.
"We started the season fast, then we had some trouble, and then we appeared to get things going again," Beauchemin said. "And then we turn around against Canyons and we can't throw a pea in the ocean. Maybe it's our turn to get things rolling again.