The Portland Community College men’s basketball team made history on Feb. 19. With a 111-106 home win over Chemeketa Community College, the Panthers secured a first-ever berth in the post-season conference tournament.
“It feels wonderful!” sophomore Carl Appleton said after the game. “This is the first time it’s ever been done – bringing the playoffs to PCC. It’s a beautiful thing, man!”
Led by Josh Turner’s 32 points, the Panthers overcame a nine-point second-half deficit to grab the victory on their home court at the Cascade Campus.
PCC will enter the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) post-season tournament as the No. 1 seed. Depending on the result of their final regular-season game this weekend at Southwest Oregon Community College, they will be either champions or co-champions of NWAACC’s South division.
“We’re going up there with the intention of winning the whole thing,” said second-year Head Coach Tony Broadous. “Only the best teams will be there, but we have a solid group of men and we’re confident we can win.”
The tournament berth represents a dramatic reversal in the fortunes of PCC Basketball, which to this point has been relegated to spectator status during the post-season. The turnaround began last year when Broadous and his longtime assistants, Tyrone White and Aaron Bell, arrived and made it known that the program now faced higher expectations.
“The groundwork was laid last year,” Broadous said. “We refused to be defined by what had happened before. And this year, we added a few key men who enabled us to take the team to the next level.”
Foremost among the priorities instilled by Broadous and his staff was a commitment to academic excellence. With the help of two dedicated volunteer study hall tutors, Jay Klusky and Dr. Bradley Muhammad, the team buckled down, hit the books, and didn’t lose a single player this season to academic ineligibility.
“We really work hard on academics, and on making the guys understand that basketball is a short piece in life,” added Broadous. “It’s lots of fun and it’s really rewarding, but in the end it’s two games a week for a brief time while they’re young. Getting an education is far more important.”
This commitment to academic achievement is mirrored on PCC’s women’s team as well. Across both teams, the players maintained an average GPA of 3.0, including four perfect 4.0s on the women’s team.
The team’s new attitude, along with the coaching and mentoring of Broadous, White, and Dell, is paying dividends. The Panthers are poised to reach greater heights than they’ve ever before attained.
“I can’t wait to see what’s next,” said sophomore C.J. Easterling. “We’re ready.”
The Panthers’ dream season enters its next phase on March 1 when they face Lower Columbia Community College in their opening NWAAC Tournament game. The tournament runs from March 1-4 at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, Wash. Follow along at the tournament’s website.