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PCC basketball goes big time
Photos and Story by James Hill
The Portland Community College men’s basketball team is part of a double feature with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Panthers will take on Lower Columbia College on Thursday, Dec. 6, at the Rose Garden arena. Tip-off time is 2:30 p.m. and the contest will be part of a twin bill that also features the Miami Heat and the Portland Trail Blazers at 7 p.m. For tickets, contact the PCC athletic office at (503) 978-5513.
“That is definitely a selling point,” said second-year Panther Michael Cooper, a Tualatin High graduate. “How often do you get to play on a NBA court? That is every player’s dream.”
PCC’s head coach Wayne Mendezona said he is excited to schedule the opportunity to showcase his young team. Not only does it allow the Panthers to play on a NBA court, but also gives the players something to remember from the 2007-08 season.
But according to Mendezona, there is a lot more that fans might remember from this upcoming season when it is finished.
“We are very excited about this year’s recruiting class and the direction of the team for the upcoming season,” he said. “I am pleased with the speed and quickness of our recruiting class, which will be a tremendous asset on both ends of the floor.”
Mendezona is in his third year as head men’s coach for PCC. He is in the process of building PCC program that competes in the competitive South Region of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC). In his first year, PCC produced the second-best record in the history of team, including victories against NWAACC-ranked teams.
“Each of our recruits have played in solid high school programs and have come prepared to make a smooth transition into the college game,” he added. “We will be young, but hopefully this year’s team will improve and adapt quickly and be a real force to be reckoned with.”
This year’s team includes guards Josh Stoulil (Newberg), Ty Houghton (Enterprise), Colin Molano, Shawn West (Rainier), Tyler Mendezona, Ronnie Phillips (Rainier), Mike Richmond (Jefferson High School), Gabriel Morris (Grant High School), and forwards Mychal Delancy (Portland Christian), Taylor Pettiford (Tigard), Gary Hasan (Milwaukie), Elzie Dickens (Vancouver, Wash., Evergreen H.S.), and Michael Cooper (Tualatin).
One of the featured players will be the 6-foot, 9-inch Cooper. Born in England and raised in Tualatin, Cooper didn’t even start playing basketball until his senior year in high school. He is now in his second season with PCC and will be counted upon to provide more scoring and rebounding than he did last year when he was acclimating to the NWAACC game.
“I started to do well at the end of last year and they started getting me the ball more,” Cooper said. “It can be tough if you don’t have the right footwork. Without it you can’t play well at center.”
After playing one season at Tualatin High School, Cooper took a year off to find himself. He got out of his parents’ house and worked at Target to make ends meet. While there he met good friends who helped him mature.
“Some of my friends are role models to me on life experiences,” Cooper said. “They bolstered the advice my parents had always told me about life.”
After the year off, he enrolled at PCC and is majoring in business. His plans are grand after he moves on from the college, such as working for an international company that would allow him to travel to different countries. But right now, he’s just worried about the Panther’s No. 1 goal.
“Our mindset has been to make the playoffs,” Cooper said. “For PCC in years past this hasn’t been the mindset. I think this should be every team’s goal.”
For more information on tickets to any PCC Panther games, visit: http://www.pcc.edu/about/athletics/