Porterville goes 1-1 at Milt Stowe Classic
The inaugural two-day Milt Stowe Basketball Classic kicked off at Porterville College Friday and brought the Pirates their first home basketball tournament in 17 years.
Playing in honor of Porterville Mayor Milt Stowe, PC (3-4) went 1-1 in the four-team tournament, finishing with an 84-75 win over El Camino (3-5) after losing 95-85 in overtime to Bakersfield (4-4) Friday.
“It was special,” PC head coach Rob Haynes said. “This right here, this was for him. This man has done — and is still doing — a lot of great things for Porterville and the college itself. So we’re very appreciative of him, and we just want to show our thankful and our appreciation in regards to doing this for him.”
A former basketball and baseball player as well as baseball head coach for the Pirates, Stowe was inducted into the PC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995 for his achievements in baseball. Stowe has served the community since 1982 in a range of occupations, with the latest being Porterville’s mayor since 2014.
“I am so honored and so humbled that they’d do this,” Stowe said. “I don’t know why they do this, but it’s very nice of them. And I’m pleased because I love the game, I love the college and for them to do that, I’m very honored.”
In June of 2017, Stowe was diagnosed with cancer. Despite his health restrictions, Stowe has made a point to make it out to as many games as possible around town, and was there for both days of the tournament.
“I love basketball anyways, but being out here and having a tournament in your name, it’s that much more exciting to watch the teams,” Stowe said. “Even the teams that aren’t from Porterville, it was fun to watch them. That was some good basketball played.”
Bakersfield went 2-0 with a 128-63 win over West Hills Lemoore (0-6) who also lost 90-73 to El Camino.
Winning like they planned
There was no way PC was going 0-2 in their inaugural tournament with Stowe in attendance, and the Pirates proved that with their second game win over the Warriors of El Camino.
Porterville was prepared for El Camino, and knowing the Warriors lacked shot-blockers, they were able to utilize sophomore forward Da’Morea Green in the middle, who finished with a team-high 22 points and nine rebounds.
“That was the game plan,” Haynes said. “The game plan was to go inside-outside. If we go inside - because we knew they didn’t have any shot blockers, they average only one shot block a game. Their equivalent to a shot block is to take a charge. Which they got like five or six tonight.”
PC built up a 9-0 lead to start off the game, but five minutes later El Camino was within three after David Avila launched a three to cut the Pirates lead to 13-10. Much of the first half went the same way for PC, with the team going on a run before a Warriors’ three would make the game close again.
A big 3-point shooting team, the Warriors were able to stay in the game, with EC’s Justin Chambers and Justin Reyes knocking down eight of the team’s 13 3-pointers to keep things tight. Chambers finished with 21 points and Reyes followed with 13.
Coming out of halftime with a 44-41 lead, the Pirates continued to go at the Warriors full-court press, with players picking it apart to find Green low for easy shots and also moving the ball around for short range jumpers.
“The only time it gave us trouble was when we got out of the game plan,” Haynes said about EC’s press. “When we just executed and ran the press break we got layups. At the end of the first half we shot 71 percent from the field, and that was just executing off the press break. We just started getting tired. Fatigue. And you know fatigue makes a coward out of all of us. So we stopped moving and started overthinking.”
Freshman Dominic King finished with 20 points, while freshman Kenton Lei had seven points, five rebounds and two blocks. Freshman Treager Wallace also proved instrumental on both sides of the floor with 11 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double as well as two blocks.
El Camino continued to battle, but in the final two minutes of the game they were held to just one three-pointer with the Pirates defense stepping up.
Once again it wasn’t a perfect win for the team, with PC racking up 25 turnovers to EC’s nine. As a team, Porterville also had 37 defensive rebounds but just six offensive rebounds. And from the free-throw line they were 19 of 31, just over 60 percent.
The team has almost a week to make adjustments before a 6 p.m. home game Friday, Dec. 7 against Victor Valley (4-5), who beat Porterville 93-83 in early November. However, Haynes said making corrections after a win will be a lot easier than a loss.
In their first game of the inaugural tournament, Porterville lost 95-85 to Bakersfield after the Renegades outscored the Pirates 14-4 in overtime while PC also had foul trouble problems. King led the team with 21 points, and Green had 14 points and 14 rebounds. Lei also had 15 points and eight rebounds, while Elijah Cardenas had 11 points. Off the bench, Tayshawun Bradford had 12 points.
Haynes said it was special having Stowe in attendance and that he tossed the inaugural jump ball, took pictures with the team and talked to the players on both nights. And while they wanted to win both games for Stowe, they knew there was no way they’d go winless.
“I would say it was special and it was special for the community,” Haynes said. “Porterville College’s first tournament here in 17 years or something, long time. We wanted to go 2-0, but we couldn’t go 0-2. Like that was something we couldn’t do.”