The return of Palo Verde College (PVC) Pirates basketball has students, alumni, campus leadership, local families and fans ready and eager for exciting play this season.
Though a 0-5 opening record leaves the PVC Athletics Department coaching staff with room for improvement, the Clancy Osborne Physical Education Center (One College Dr.) gymnasium’s proud home crowd livening the energy up for more play makes for an energetic atmosphere – a welcome scene the PVC campus hasn’t experienced with a basketball team since 1981.
“It’s been good, we’ve had a lot of support. The first home game was pretty intense, pretty fun for the community to come out and support us like they did,” said PVC Pirates head coach Ryan Copple.
With an 12-man roster in front of the home crowd, PVC faced the visiting squad from Mesa Arizona College on Nov. 15.
“We haven’t started a game off good all year. We get in a hole right out of the gate; we come back into the game, and then we have these eight to 10 minute spurts where we just play bad. We need to correct that. We need to fight through that and be able to score some points,” noted Copple.
The first half half saw the Pirates outscored by 20 points, with Mesa taking a commanding lead of 44-24.
“(But) there was a two-point difference in the second half. They outscored us by two points (in the second half). (During halftime), we just told them to be themselves,” said Copple. “To be themselves and attack the rim.”
In getting the first-year chemistry down, the PVC Pirates leadership appreciates the audible support of attendees – which helped spur the home team in the second half, at one point cutting Mesa’s lead down to eight following two three-pointers from Pirates’ reserves guard Samauji Bell (3).
“The players love the crowd when they get into the game. The support’s just been awesome for our first two home games,” said Copple.
Led by starting guards Larry Hemingway Jr. (0), with 21 points off of 38 minutes, and Daijohn Stewart (2), with 18 points off of 30 minutes, the Pirates’ second half play wasn’t enough to make up for Mesa’s 56 field goal (28-50) and 64.7 three-point percentages (11 of 17) to go along with 12-12 buckets from the line.
“Blythe’s awesome, you know; they show out. We have our fans here, so. We’ll fight through it and get better as the season goes along,” noted Copple.
Next home game for the PVC Pirates will be against the visiting University of Los Angeles – College of Divinity; tip off at 6 p.m. on Dec. 2.