Concordia and Chapman, the two strongest small college men's basketball teams in Orange County the last few seasons, have developed a decent rivalry. It was most recently renewed Saturday, when Concordia beat the Panthers, 68-58, for the championship of the Redlands tournament.
"Any time we play an Orange County team we just assume there's going to be more interest in the game," Concordia Coach Greg Marshall said. "I think I try to pay extra attention to the game."
Two seasons ago, Chapman won the nonconference game at home, 77-66. Last season, Concordia won, 77-75, when Tarik James made a jumper with four seconds left and Chapman's Adam Dzierzynski narrowly missed a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer.
The teams weren't scheduled to meet this season, but each scored impressive victories to reach the final at Redlands.
Concordia, playing without starters James and Pharoah Jones for the entire tournament, beat perennial NCAA Division III power UC San Diego, 87-67, and Golden State Athletic Conference foe Cal Baptist, 103-80. Chapman beat Hamline (Minn.), 70-67, on Pete Sverkos' three-pointer with about a minute to play and beat Redlands, 84-81, on Mark LaBelle's last-minute three-pointer.
Saturday, the Eagles controlled the game with zone defense and stopped Chapman's 10-game winning streak that had spanned two seasons.
Chapman Coach Mike Bokosky was impressed. "I think their team is better this year," he said.
Bokosky said tournament most valuable player Jeff Putnam, who had 19 points and 15 rebounds against the Panthers, is a Division I-type player, similar to those he coached against when he was an assistant at UC Irvine.
Jones, Concordia's leading scorer last season, missed Concordia's first seven games this season because of a knee injury. He played for the first time this season Tuesday, scoring 17 points in 21 minutes in the Eagles' 69-67 loss to Pomona-Pitzer, which broke a three-game winning streak.
James, who missed the Redlands tournament because of a back injury, also played Tuesday, scoring four points in 16 minutes.
Chapman, which was beaten, 87-71, by Cal Lutheran Tuesday, has lost two in a row after starting the season 5-0, and Bokosky says it will be interesting to see how his team responds.
Chapman plays another strong Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference team Saturday, playing host to Claremont-Mudd. "They are just as talented as Cal Lutheran," Bokosky said. "It's going to be an interesting test to see how much we improve."
Cal Lutheran's pressure man-to-man defense took the Panthers out of the game early, with the Kingsmen leading by as many as 20 points in the first half. The Kingsmen made seven of 10 three-point shots in the first half, so Bokosky went with a small lineup for most of the second half.
From about the 15-minute mark to the final minutes, 6-foot-5 forward Jim Falletta and 6-3 guard Sverkos and 6-0 guard Umahl Anderson were the only Chapman players taller than 6 feet on the floor.
Chapman could get no closer than eight points behind, but Bokosky still believes in his team. "We have good enough players to get it done," Bokosky said. "We'll get it solved. Sometimes, out of a loss you can get better."
Locally grown: Chapman, of course, draws most of its players from Orange County. The Panthers have eight players from the county on their roster, but Claremont-Mudd is not far behind with five.
Darren Gravley, a senior guard from Laguna Beach High, is a starter, averaging 7.7 points. John Paisley, a freshman forward from Trabuco Hills, is averaging four points and Tim Lin, a sophomore guard from Los Alamitos High, averages three. James Cannaday, a senior forward from Sonora, and Jeremy Vandervoet, a freshman forward from Los Alamitos, play more sparingly. The Stags are 2-4.
Despite reaching the semifinals of the NCAA Division III men's soccer playoffs, Chapman had only two players selected third-team All-American, Erick and Gary Hurtarte. "I felt that Gary in particular deserved to be on the first team," Coach Gregg Murphy said. The Hurtartes, goalkeeper Craig Bennett and Dustin Kemmerer were named first-team All-West Region. . . . Three players from the Chapman women's soccer team were selected to the Division III All-West Region first team: Cindy LeClair, a senior forward; Kim Wyer, a junior forward, and Mary Folino, a senior midfielder. . . . Angela Sather, a 5-10 junior forward on the Concordia women's basketball team, was named to the all-tournament team at the Golden State Athletic Conference preseason tournament after leading the Eagles to the title. Sather averaged 24 points and eight rebounds in three Concordia victories. . . . The Chapman women's basketball team plays host to Claremont at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, the first game of a Chapman-Claremont doubleheader.