It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter on the basketball court for a men’s program used to going to the playoffs, but coach John Cosentino has issued a warning for 2015.
Things will be different next year.
Southwestern College finished 11-15 overall and 4-4 in the Pacific Coast South Athletic Conference, good enough for second place. SWC’s fierce freshmen will return.
“[It was tough] blending 12 new players together,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of experience and that was the biggest thing. A lot of new freshman.”
A lot of talented freshmen. First-year forward Shawn Lathan emerged as team MVP, leading the team in almost every statistical category. He was second in the conference in points per game, rebounds per game, field goal percentage and three-point percentage, making him the only player to be in the top three in all four categories.
“He has always put in time on the court,” Cosentino said. “But it’s the other things like going to class and not being a distraction.”
Lathan led the way in the home finale against Cuyamaca College. The Jaguars dominated both sides of the court. Their defense forced Cuyamaca to take low-percentage shots as SWC cruised, 82-64. Lathan had 21 points and sophomore forward Jimmie Edler notched 17.
Against Imperial Valley College, the Jaguars pulled within one point to end the half at 33-32. In the second half they played with a sense of urgency and tough defense. With the Jags leading 58-57 with 25 seconds left, freshman guard Jacob Craig made a key three pointer to seal a 64-59 win. Elder led scorers with 19 points and Lathan added 15.
Facing Southern California’s top-ranked team, Mt. San Jacinto College, the Jags were met with their biggest challenge of the season. Mt. San Jacinto’s height made it difficult to grab rebounds and score inside the paint. Even so, SWC was able to control the tempo and led 22-20 at halftime.
Lathan said Cosentino motivated the team with an inspiring halftime address.
“Coach told us we have another 20 minutes (to) play so we have to keep working hard until the game is over,” said Lathan. “As long as we keep playing together as a team we can win.”
SWC, however, did not have an answer for Mt. San Jacinto’s defense. Even with Lathan’s 15 points and Craig’s 10, SWC was outscored 38-21 in the second half, en route to a 58-43 loss.
Assistant coach Domenic Cosentino said the team needed improvement.
“We’re going to have to limit turnovers,” he said. “(And) make the easy baskets.”
Back at home after a close loss the week before to Palomar College, the Jags were determined to defeat Miramar College. T
eams were tied at halftime, 35-35.
When the second half buzzer rang, SWC’s energy took off. With an impressive series of rebounds, steals and scoring, the Jags pulled off a 74-68 win.
Lathan had 28 points and Edler 8.
Although it was a rough season for the Jags, their young core of athletes bodes well for the team’s future. Cosentino admitted he is still learning after 30 years of coaching.
“I wasn’t patient enough,” he said “I still need to work that. Sometimes I forget that they are still 18 and 19.”