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Scott Cathcart

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John O'Neill, Head Coach joneill@palomar.edu John Hotaling, Associate Head Coach jhotaling@palomar.edu

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PALOMAR'S 8-GAME WIN STREAK VS. MIRACOSTA  COMES TO AN END

OCEANSIDE (2-15-2017) -- Palomar's eight-game win streak vs. MiraCosta in men's basketball came to an end on Wednesday night when the Spartans defeated the Comets 88-80 at MiraCosta.

Palomar led most of the game but late turnovers and missed free throws hurt the Comets. So did  6-foot-10 center Keegan Cummings' fouling out.

Brevin Robinson led Palomar with 20 points. Jackson Strong scored 17 points, knocking down       5 three-pointers.

Cummins contributed 12 points, going 5-for-7 from the field, and had 7 rebounds. Matt Beeler hauled in 13 rebounds and LeVale Coleman had 8 boards.

The Spartans avenged a 103-85 loss to the Comets on Jan. 25 at The Dome.

The Comets' last loss to the Spartans had come on Feb. 8, 2013 when host MiraCosta won 77-76 in two overtimes.

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TOP PHOTO: Brevin Robinson dunks the ball in the first half in Palomar's 94-76 victory over visiting College of the Desert to close out the regular season on Friday night. DIRECTLY ABOVE: Zach Hatch, who scored nine points off the bench in a seven-minute span in the second half, takes the ball downcourt just before dishing the ball to Robinson for one of his two assists. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Comets shoot down Roadrunners in finale

SAN MARCOS (2-17-2017) -- Palomar shot 58.8 percent in the second half and came back from a one-point halftime deficit to turn back College of the Desert 94-76 in The Dome to close out the men's basketball season on Friday night.

The Comets got a double-double (19 points and 10 rebounds) from Brevin Robinson, 19 points and seven rebounds from LeVale Coleman, 15 points, six rebounds and a block from Keegan Cummins and 15 points from Jackson Strong. Along the way, they avenged a first-round Pacific Coast Athletic Conference upset loss to the Roadrunners in Palm Desert.

Coach John O'Neill's squad put four exclamation points on the victory in the form of four violent dunks, including one by Cummins one minute, 23 seconds into the second half that fueled a run during which the Comets, who had trailed by 42-41 at intermission, took control of the game.

Zach Hatch came off the bench to spark the Comets with nine points in a seven-minute span in the second half. He also dished off two assists. Matt Beeler added seven points and also had a dunk, 10 rebounds, nine assists and three steals.

Kevin Hardyway, who has been sidelined and on crutches with a leg injury, made a cameo appearance at the beginning of the second half and drained a 3-pointer 1 minute, 23 seconds into the half. That set off a celebration by the Comets' lone sophomore's teammates on "Sophomore Night."

Palomar's Keegan Cummins holds the ball in the air after rebounding a shot by Miramar's Javan Perry (No. 11 in blue) as time expired in the Comets' 99-98 victory on Friday night. Palomar's Breven Robinson (No. 23) and Jackson Strong (No. 21) celebrate the win. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Strong scores 29; Comets stun Jets 99-98

SAN MARCOS (2-10-2017) -- Jackson Strong scored 29 points, knocking down eight 3-pointers, and Palomar, leading by 19 points twice in the second half, held on to stun San Diego Miramar 99-98 in a bizarre game Friday night in The Dome.

Brevin Robinson (23 points), Keegan Cummins (20 points) and LaVale Coleman (20 points) also came up big as Palomar survived virtually by the strength of its will after being whistled for 37 fouls (to 17 for the Jets) and finishing the game with four players. Five Comets fouled out.

Palomar, which has played the late season without injured starting forward Kevin Hadyway, drained 14 threes to Miramar's four. Chris Jones scored 24 points for the Jets, who entered the game in second place in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference North Division.

State No. 4 San Bernardino downs PC

SAN BERNARDINO (2-01-2017) -- After giving current state No. 4-ranked San Bernardino Valley a major scare in the teams' first meeting, Palomar went on the road on Friday and dropped an 87-75 Pacific Coast Athletic Conference North Division decision to the first-place Wolverines.

Jackson Strong (left) led the Comets with 19 points. LeVale Coleman scored 16.

The Wolverines (21-5, 6-0 to lead the PCAC North by themselves) could jump in the state rankings after Cerritos upset No. 1-ranked El Camino Compton Center on Friday evening.

The loss snapped the Tartars' 14-game winning streak.

COD overcomes a huge game by Strong

PALM DESERT (1-27-2016) -- Jackson Strong turned in a huge performance on Friday night but College of the Desert came back from a halftime deficit to down the Comets 96-94 in a Pacific Coast Athletic Conference men's basketball game.

Strong, the Comets' 6-foot-4 freshman shooting guard from Torrey Pines High School, finished with 22 points. He went 7-for-13 from the field, 6-for-11 on 3-pointers and 2-for-2 from the free throw stripe. He also contributed 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks.

Keegan Cummings scored 19 points and also had 6 rebounds for Palomar, going 9-for-15 from the field and 1-for-1 from the line.

Brevin Robinson scored 18 points. LaVale Coleman added 12 points and 8 rebounds for the Comets.

Cummins (23 pts. 4 dunks), Strong do in MC

SAN MARCOS (1-25-2016) -- A funny thing happened to MiraCosta College in what at first appeared would be a blowout win over Palomar on Friday night at The Dome as the visitors raced out to a 14-point lead in the first half.

But then the Comets woke up behind 23 points and 4 dunks from 6-foot-10 freshman center Keegan Cummins (left) and 19 points including 5 buckets from behind the 3-point arc by 6-4 freshman guard Jackson Strong (right).

In the process, Palomar and back to blow their North County rival Spartans out of the water 103-85 in the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference North Division game.

Once the bodies were counted, the Comets had put six players in double figures, with Kevin Hardyway (15 points), Matt Beeler (12 points), Sean Birk (11 points) and Brevin Robinson (10 points) joining Cummins and Strong.

And coach John O'Neill's squad had shot 67.3 percent from the field (37-for-55) and 50 percent from behind the 3-point arc (11-for-22).

There could hardly have been a more huge contract from last Friday night's game on the road, when the Comets were completely out of sync and got themselves blown off the court by San Diego Miramar.

Palomar closed the 14-point deficit to two points, then grabbed a 39-38 lead at the break on a 3-point shot by Ryan Vogelei with 3.5 seconds to play in the half. After MiraCosta spurted back into the lead early in the second half, the Comets immediately went what turned out be an endless run and wound up outscoring the Spartans 64-38 in the last 20 minutes.

For MiraCosta, Brett Hollins scored 27 points before picking up his fifth foul when he was whistled with a technical with a little over two minutes remaining.

Miramar stays in tie for North lead vs. PC

SAN DIEGO (1-21-2017) -- San Diego Miramar remained in a tie with San Bernardino Valley for the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference North Division men's basketball lead on Friday night, drawing away from Palomar 101-73 at Miramar College Fieldhouse.

The Comets cut a double-figure Miramar lead to 3 points, 35-32, with 4:42 left in the first half on a basket by Ryan Vogelei. But the Jets inched away to lead 48-39 in the half, then outscored Palomar 53-34 in an ugly second half.

For the Comets, Brevin Robinson (left, 15 points), Kevin Hardyway (15 points) and LaVale Coleman (10 points) scored in double figures.

Miramar advanced to 17-5 on the season, 3-0 in the PCAC North, while the Comets fell to 8-12, 0-3.

Sean Birk drives to the basket around Matt Beeler's pick to put Palomar in front of defending PCAC North champion Mt. San Jacinto 59-57 on Wednesday in The Dome. Birk's 26 points kept the Comets in the game until late. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Birk's 26 points keeps it close vs. defending champs

SAN MARCOS (1-18-2017) -- Still playing short-handed, Palomar kept its Pacific Coast Athletic Conference North Division game with defending champion Mt. San Jacinto close until late in the second half on Wednesday night at The Dome.

The Eagles eventually edged away to an 81-74 victory over the Comets, who have been without two starters since the end of December.

Led by Sean Birk's 26 points, Palomar kept it close until the visiting Eagles finally took control in the final two minutes. Mt. San Jac were on top 43-30 early in the second half before the Comets battled back, finally pulled even, then traded leads back and forth with the Eagles until the closing moments.

Kevin Hardyway gave Palomar the lead for the final time when he was fouled with 4:15 to play and dropped in two free throws to put the Comets on top 66-65. Mt. San Jac re-took the lead but Palomar's Jackson Strong buried a 3-pointer to tie the game at 70 with 3:00 showing on the scoreboard clock.

Once again, the Eagles regained the lead before LeVale Coleman drove the right baseline in front of the Palomar bench to pull the Comets even for the final time at 72-72 with 2:17 to play.

Birk went 9-for-18 from the field, 4-for-8 from behind the 3-point arc and 4-for-4 from the free throw line on the way to his 26 points. Hardyway finished with 11 points and Coleman scored 10.  Matt Beeler contributed 8 points and 8 rebounds and also passed off for 4 assists.

The Comets hope to get 6-foot-10 center Keegan Cummins back when they travel to San Diego Miramar for a 6 p.m. game on Saturday.

LaVale Coleman scores on this shot for the Comets to tie Friday's game with San Bernardino Valley at 23-23 16 seconds into the second half. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Comets play Wolverines tough in North opener

SAN MARCOS (1-13-2017) -- Host Palomar utilized a 1-3-1 zone defense to hang with conference favorite San Bernardino for a little over a half in a Pacific Coast Athletic Conference North Division men's basketball opener on Friday night, trailing by 23-21 at intermission.

And the Comets briefly took a 26-25 lead early in the second half on Kevin Hardyway's 3-point basket.

Even when the Wolverines got untracked to open a 14-point lead, but the Comets battled back, closing to within two points at 53-51 on Sean Birk's 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining on the clock.

But it wasn't quite enough as San Bernardino edged out at the end for a 60-51 victory at The Dome.

For Palomar, LaVale Coleman scored a game-high 15 points, including 12 in the second half. Birk scored 10, Hardyway added 9 points and Brevin Robinson sparked the Comets off the bench with 9 rebounds.

The Wolverines advanced to 16-5 on the season and are 1-0 to open PCAC North play. The Comets fell to 8-10, 0-1 and will host defending North Division champion Mt. San Jacinto on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Comets lose lead and game to Glendale

RANCHO CUCAMONGA (1-08-2017) -- Palomar lost its lead and the game to Glendale in the third-place game at the Chaffey Challenge men's basketball tournament Sunday afternoon, falling to Glendale 73-66.

LaVale Coleman (left, 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) and Kevin Hardyway (right, 19 points) turned in strong performances in defeat for Palomar (8-9).

Jackson Strong added 9 points for Palomar, and Brevin Robinson came off the bench to score 7 points and contribute a team-high 11 rebounds. Matt Beeler scored 6 points before fouling out.

The Comets led at halftime 33-30.

Tartars overcome Strong's 25 pts, go to 15-3

RANCHO CUCAMONGA (1-06-2017) -- Jackson Strong (left) knocked down 7-of-11 shots from behind the 3-point arc and scored 25 points Saturday night, but it wasn't enough for Palomar to overcome one of the state's premier teams in the championship semifinals of the Chaffey Challenge Tournament.

El Camino Compton Center (formerly Compton College) outscored the Comets 107-90, going to 15-3 on the season, and will play host Chaffey, a 72-60 winner over Glendale, for the tourney title on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Chaffey College Athletic Center.

Strong, a 6-foot-4 guard out of Torrey Pines High School, also made his only 2-point attempt and finished the game 8-for-12 shooting.

The Comets (7-7), again playing without two starters who may be lost for the season, shot 51.7 percent from the field (30-for-58), 54.2 percent on 3-pointers (13-for-24) and 77.3 percent from the free throw line (17-for-22).

Along with Strong's performance, Matt Beeler (18 points), Kevin Hardyway (14 points), Sean Birk (right, 10 points and 11 assists) and Brevin Robinson (10 points and a team-high 6 rebounds) also scored in double figures for Palomar.

El Camino Compton Center also put five players in double figures, led by Jayvon Brown with 20 points.

The Comets will play Glendale in Sunday's third-place game at 2 p.m.

Hardyway's late FT's give PC OT victory

RANCHO CUCAMONGA (1-05-2017) -- Kevin Hardyway (left), who was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 3 seconds left in overtime and the Comets down by a point, made all 3 free throws Friday afternoon.

That lifted Palomar past Pasadena City College 67-65 in a first-round game at the Chaffey Challenge Tournament.

With two starters missing and possibly lost for the season, 6-foot-8 forward Matt Beeler (right) stepped up for the Comets (8-7) in a big way.

Beeler, a grayshirt freshman from Poway High School, scored 24 points and added 12 rebounds before fouling out with 38 seconds left in the OT. Beeler went 8-for-13 from the field, 2-for-2 on 3-pointers and 6-for-6 from the free throw stripe. He also contributed 2 steals, a block and an assist.

LaVale Coleman (14 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists), Jackson Strong (14 points, 6 rebounds) and Hardyway (11 points, 9 rebounds) also scored in double figures. Pasadena's Delon Williams was the game's leading scorer with 36 points, but was the only Lancer in double figures.

Palomar jumped out to a 20-9 advantage and led almost the entire game. Pasadena pulled even seven times but had only two leads, 54-53 late in the first half and 65-64 in the final minute of the overtime.

Then, as the scoreboard clocked ticked down, Hardyway put up his 3-point attempt, was fouled by Pasadena's Levi James and the rest is history.

The Comets will play El Camino Compton Center (14-3), a 97-79 winner over Citrus in Friday's late game, in the championship semifinals on Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Chaffey College Sports Center. The championship game is scheduled for Sunday at 4 p.m.

Hancock rallies to beat PC, wins tourney

SANTA MARIA (12-30-2016) -- Host Hancock, trailing in the second half Friday night, came back to down Palomar 66-62 in the championship game of the Allan Hancock Holiday Classic.

Keegan Cummins (left) led the Comets with 16 points and 11 rebounds, both to top both teams. Jackson Strong joined Cummins in double figures with 11 points, and LaVale Coleman scored 9 points. Matt Beeler added 7 points.

Beeler and Coleman each had 11 rebounds for Palomar. Marc Pacia and Coleman led the Comets in assists with 4.

The teams were tied at halftime 30-30. The Comets saw their modest three-game winning streak go by the boards as they fell back to .500 with a 7-7 record.

Comets turn back Cuesta, play for title

SANTA MARIA (12-29-2016) -- Palomar put five players in double figures on Thursday evening, drew away to beat Cuesta and reach Friday's championship game of the Allan Hancock Holiday Classic along the way.

The Comets will play tournament host Hancock, a 72-68 winner over Los Angeles Pierce in overtime in the other semifinal game, at 5 p.m. at Joe White Memorial Gymnasium.

Jackson Strong (13 points), Sean Birk (13), Matt Beeler (11), LaVale Coleman (11) and Kevin Hardyway (10) all reached double figures for the Comets (7-6) vs. Cuesta. Palomar led 27-22 at halftime.

Hardyway pulled down 8 rebounds, Beeler and Birk 5 each and Coleman 4.

Strong hit 4-of-7 shots from behind the 3-point arc.

Cummins, Strong lift PC to 70-62 tourney win

SANTA MARIA (12-28-2016) -- Keegan Cummins (left) and Jackson Strong (right) sparked four Palomar players in double figures Wednesday as the Comets rallied to down Merritt College of Oakland 70-62 to begin the Allan Hancock Holiday Classic at Joe White Memorial Gymnasium.

The Comets (6-6) move on to a 5 p.m. Thursday semifinal game with Cuesta, a 79-68 winner over Los Angeles Southwest.

Cummins, a 6-foot-11 freshman center from Escondido High School,  led the Comets with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Joining Cummins in double figures: Strong with 15 points, and Matt Beeler and Sean Birk with 10 points each.

Strong drained 5 shots from behind the 3-point arc and also contributed 3 assists. Beeler had 8 rebounds. Birk finished with 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

Also for Palomar, Marc Pacia had 4 assists, Kevin Hardaway contributed 8 rebounds, and LaVale Coleman hauled down 5 rebounds.

The Comets dominated the boards 45 rebounds to 24.

Merritt streaked to an early 23-10 lead before the Comets closed to a 27-25 deficit. The Thunderbirds drew back out to a 10-point lead at the half and were up 50-38 early in the second half.

That's when Palomar went on an 18-4 run to and went in front 56-54 on LaVale Coleman's layup. The Comets never trailed again.

Palomar's Coleman is PCAC Athlete of Week

SAN DIEGO (12-26-2016) -- Palomar's LaVale Coleman has been honored as Pacific Coast Athlete Conference Men's Athlete of the Week.

Coleman, a 6-foot-4 freshman forward from Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix, AZ, and a transfer from Estrella Mountain Community College in Avondale, AZ which doesn't play basketball, led five Comets in double figures in an 85-70 victory over host College of the Desert.

Coleman scored 12 points against the Roadrunners with 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals in a non-conference game between PCAC North Division rivals.

He sparked the Comets as they bounced back from a 5-point deficit at halftime. He was coming off a 29-point performance in a loss to Fullerton.

Coleman, Comets rally to top COD 85-70

PALM DESERT (12-21-2016) -- LaVale Coleman's double-double led five Palomar players in double figures on Wednesday night as the visiting Comets came back from a 5-point halftime deficit to blow past College of the Desert 85-70.

Coleman (left) overwhelmed the Roadrunners with 12 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals while playing 24 of the game's 40 minutes.

Keegan Cummins (right) scored 13 points and had 8 rebounds in only 11 minutes. Jackson Strong scored 13 points, Sean Birk had 11 points and 5 assists and Matt Beeler added 10 points and 7 rebounds.

Braxton Carlton scored 8 points for the Comets and Kevin Hardyway tallied 7 points.

Palomar dispatched COD by going on 11-0 and 9-0 runs in the second half.

The Comets, trailing by 52-48 with just under 11 minutes remaining in the game, scored 11 unanswered points in 3 minutes on Cummins' layin, a Cummins free throw, Carlton's 3-pointer off Cummins' assist, another Carlton 3-pointer off a Birk assist and Beeler's dunk on an assist by Mark Pacia.

Palomar, leading 76-70, then turned the game into a rout in the final 52 seconds, scoring the night's final 9 points on two free throws by Strong, two free throws by Coleman, two more free throws by Strong and a Strong 3-pointer off a Carlton assist.

Both teams are members of the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference North Division but were playing a non-conference game.

The Comets will be off until next Wednesday, Dec. 28, when they play Merritt College of Oakland at 3 p.m. to begin the Allan Hancock Classic at Joe White Memorial Gymnasium in Santa Maria.

LaVale Coleman scores for the Comets in the second half of Friday night's non-conference game with Fullerton in The Dome. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Coleman scores 29 but PC's rally short

SAN MARCOS (12-16-2016) -- Visiting Fullerton College held off a Palomar rally to turn back the Comets 89-79 in a non-conference basketball game on Friday night at The Dome.

The Comets got a big night from freshman forward LaVale Coleman in defeat. Coleman took the ball to the hole and draw enough fouls to score 29 points and go 16-for-17 from the free throw line. He also pulled down 7 rebounds, one more than teammate Matt Beeler and the Hornets' Nick Anderson for high in that department.

Sean Burk scored 13 points for Palomar (4-6) and Kevin Hardyway also was in double figures with 12 points. Jackson Strong added 8 points. Keegan Cummins had 6.

Fullerton (10-3) had 20-point scoring from Kenny Barnes and Rodney Henderson.

Fullerton, which has won two of three games from Mt. San Jacinto and also has a victory over San Bernardino Valley, led by as many as 27 points in the second half before the Comets closed to the final margin. The closest Palomar got was 10 points, at 86-76, 87-77 and the final score.

 Palomar will return to action when they play a non-conference game against Pacific Coast Athletic Conference opponent College of the Desert next Wednesday at 5 p.m. in Palm Desert.

Jackson Strong Matt Beeler Marc Pacia

Strong's 26 pts, Beeler's 11 boards lift PC

SAN MARCOS (12-09-2016) --  Freshman guard Jackson Strong drained 6 three-pointers and scored 26 points on Friday night at The Dome as Palomar came from behind in the second half to send Orange Coast home an 85-69 loser in a non-conference men's basketball game.

Strong had plenty of help from his friends. Freshman Matt Beeler, at 6-foot-8 the tallest player on the floor in the absence of 6-11 center Keegan Cummins, had a breakout game on the boards  with 11 rebounds. Freshman guard Marc Pacia also had a breakout game at point guard, dishing off 9 assists.

Freshman guard Sean Burk chipped in with 16 points, all in the second half, including 3 long-range buckets behind the three-point arc. And freshman Brevin Robinson added 7 points and 7 rebounds.

The Comets, trailing 32-31 at the half, roared back in the second half to outscore the Pirates 54-37, shooting  68.2 percent after intermission (52.1 percent for the game). Palomar shot .583 from behind the arc in the second half (41.9 percent for the game).

Orange Coast, trailing by 18 points at 66-48 with 9 minutes to play went on a 10-point run to close to within 66-58. But the Comets went on a 9-3 run of their own to pull out to a 75-61 lead  and continued to draw away from the Pirates after that.

Palomar will be off until next Friday night when the Comets will host Fullerton at 6 p.m.

Cummins (28 pts, 17 rb) stars but PC falls

EL CAJON (12-03-2016) -- Keegan Cummins (left) and LaVale Coleman (right) turned in huge performances on Saturday but Palomar's men's basketball team was bounced out of the 45th Grossmont College Tournament 90-86 by Santa Monica in double overtime.

They combined for 55 points and 29 rebounds against the Corsairs. Cummins finished with 28 points and 17 rebounds. He also dunked the ball six times, including twice each on assists from Jackson Strong and Sean Birk. Cummins also blocked 2 shots.

Coleman had 27 points and 12 boards. Strong (16 points) and Matt Beeler (10 points) also scored in double figures for Palomar, which led by 19 points with just under 11 minutes to play in regulation.

Comets lose halftime lead and game

EL CAJON (12-02-2016) -- Palomar took a two-point lead at the half on Friday but dropped its opening game in the 45th Grossmont College men's basketball tournament to Moorpark 65-62 at Griffin Gym.

The Comets got double-figure scoring from Jackson Strong (left, 22 points, 5 three-pointers), LaVale Coleman (right, 15 points, 8 rebounds) and Keegan Cummins (12 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks) in the loss.

Palomar outshot Moorpark 41.7 percent to 31.9 percent to no avail. The Comets and Raiders each had 42 rebounds.

Palomar will play Santa Monica, an 81-75 first-round loser to Moorpark, in the consolation semifinals on Saturday at 4 p.m.

TOP PHOTO: Keegan Cummins scores underneath with 51 seconds left in the first half as Palomar takes a 52-45 lead at intermission over Los Angeles Trade Tech on Saturday night. DIRECTLY ABOVE: Cummins is fouled two different ways by the same player as he scores. The Beavers came back to eliminate the Comets 105-97 in overtime the consolation semifinals of the Palomar Thanksgiving Tournament. -- Photos by Hugh Cox

Strong's 22 pts, five 3's not enough in OT loss

SAN MARCOS (11-26-2016) -- Jackson Strong burned the nets for 17 first-half points, including four 3-pointers, to give the Comets a 52-45 halftime lead over Los Angeles Trade Tech in the consolation semifinals of the Palomar Thanksgiving Tournament.

But the lead was too good to last as the Beavers double-teamed and sometimes triple teamed Strong in the second half, fronting him constantly to deny him the ball. They held the freshman from Torrey Pines High School to just five second-half points and went on to eliminate the Palomar from the tournament 105-97.

Strong finished with 22 points that included 7-of-12 shooting (5-for-8 from behind the 3-point arc) and 3-for-4 from the foul line.

But he only rarely touched the ball in the second half, getting only three shots away while making one 3-pointer and a 2-pointer as the rest of the team went cold from behind the arc and the Beavers came back to reach Sunday's 1 p.m. consolation title game against San Diego Miramar, which beat L.A. Harbor 78-61.

San Diego City College, a 67-60 upset winner over Saddleback, last year's state runner-up, will play L.A. Southwest, a 79-74 winner over Southwestern, in the tournament championship game at 5 p.m. Saddleback and Southwestern will play for third place at 3 p.m.

Matt Beeler went 4-for-4 from the field and 7-for-9 from the free throw line to score 15 points for Palomar in the Trade Tech game. The 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman from Poway High also pulled down 10 rebounds. Sean Birk also scored 15 points, Keegan Cummins contributed 14 points and six rebounds LeVale Coleman tallied 13 points.

The Comets are 3-3 on the season. The loss eliminated them from the tournament.

 

Jackson Strong hits a 3-pointer with 14:52 left in the second half to pull Palomar to within seven points of Los Angeles Southwest on Friday night in The Dome. The Comets rallied from a 44-28 deficit at the half but lost in the first round of the 12th Palomar Thanksgiving Tournament. The Comets will play in the consolation semifinals at 3 p.m. Saturday against Los Angeles Trade Telch. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

Comets' 2nd-half comeback too little, too late

SAN MARCOS (11-25-2016) -- A bad first half cost Palomar dearly in the opening round of the Palomar Thanksgiving Tournament on Friday night in the Dome as the Comets fell too far behind and couldn't catch up in an 81-68 loss to Los Angeles Southwest.

Palomar will play Los Angeles Trade Tech, a 66-62 loser to Southwestern, in the first of two consolation semifinal games on Saturday at 3 p.m. If the Comets win, they'll face the loser of the 1 p.m. semifinal between Los Angeles Harbor and San Diego Miramar for the consolation title on Sunday at 11 a.m.

Saturday's 5 p.m. championship bracket semifinal will match 2015-16 state community college runner-up Saddleback, a 77-62 first-round winner over Miramar, and San Diego City College, a 73-70 first-round winner over Los Angeles Harbor. The 7 p.m. semifinal will pit Southwestern against L.A. Southwest.

The Comets put three players in double figures against L.A. Southwest, Jackson Strong with 15 points, Sean Birk with 13 points and six assists and LaVale Coleman with 11 points. Coleman led Palomar rebounders with nine. Brevin Robinson added eight points and Keegan Cummins scored seven points for the Comets. L.A. Southwest was led by Jordan Young with 20 points.

The Comets (3-2) looked flat following a 12-day layoff after reaching the championship game of the Ventura College We Play Hard Tournament.

ABOVE: Thomas Alexandre scores with 8:21 left in the first half to give Palomar a 21-18 lead over Southwestern on Tuesday night at The Dome. The Comets won their home opener 73-66. -- Photo by Hugh Cox. BELOW: Jackson Strong, who led Palomar with 19 points

Strong, Birk lead PC over Jaguars 73-66

SAN MARCOS (11-15-2016) -- Jackson Strong (19 points, 8 rebounds) and Sean Birk (17 points) both came up big on Tuesday night as Palomar opened its home season with a 73-66 victory over Southwestern at The Dome in a Pacific Coast Athletic Conference cross-division game.

Strong, a 6-foot-4 freshman guard from Torrey Pines High School, dumped in 12 points in the final 8 minutes, knocking down two 3-pointers, a 2-point field goal and 4-of-4 free throws as the Comets put the game away.

Strong knocked down three 3-pointers for the night, the final one with 1:05 left to break the Jaguars' backs. Birk, a freshman guard out of El Camino High, scored 8 points in the first half and 7 points in the second half.

LaVale Coleman added 13 points and 6 rebounds as Palomar ran its early-season record to 3-1.

Southwestern's Emilio Aellano and Richard Grove led all scorers with 21 and 20 points, respectively, but Palomar put nine players in the scoring column to overwhelm the Jaguars. Matt Beeler scored 8 early points as the Comets overcame an 11-2 run by Southwestern to begin the game, and guard Mark Pacia sparked the winners with his quickness before exiting with a minor injury.

Palomar, which led 35-28 at the half, will be off until a week from Friday when the Comets will host the 12th Palomar Thanksgiving Tournament. The Comets will play Los Angeles Southwest the first night at 7 p.m. to begin the three-day event. The other teams in the tournament are 2014-15 state champion and 2015-16 runner-up Saddleback, Los Angeles Trade Tech, Southwestern, Los Angeles Harbor and San Diego Miramar.

Palomar's only loss came at the hands of Riverside City College 83-77 in the championship game of the Ventura College We Play Hard Tournament.

Comets battle into tournament finals

VENTURA (11-04-2016) -- The Ventura College Athletic Center has a reputation for being one of the toughest venues to play at in community college basketball. But don't tell that to the Palomar Comets.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Jackson Strong and Kevin Hardyway (left), the latter with 1:48 to play, brought Palomar back from a six-point deficit with 4 minutes to play and the Comets went on to shock host Ventura 67-64 in the champtionship semifinals of the We Play Hard Tournament on Friday night.

Coach John O'Neill's club (2-0) will play Riverside City College, a 86-75 winner over Antelope Valley in the other semifinal game, for the tournament championship on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Keegan Cummins, the Comets' 6-foot-10, 250-pound freshman center, led Palomar with 19 points and 8 rebounds. Jackson strong tallied12 points, and LaVale Coleman grabbed 10 rebounds.

Comets turn back Pasadena 83-30

VENTURA (11-03-2016) -- Palomar, with only one player returning from a year go, matured in a hurry and got its 2016-17 season off on the right foot on Thursday afternoon, turning back Pasadena City College 83-80 in the opening round of the We Play Hard Tournamentat the Ventura College Athletic Center.

Coach John O'Neill's squad will play host Ventura, which defeated Los Angeles Valley 93-85, in Friday's semifinals at 7 p.m.

El Camino High School alum Sean Birk (18 points, 6 rebounds) led the Comets. LaValle Coleman (17 points, 7 rebounds) and Torrey Pines High product Jackson Strong (17 points) also scored in double figures. Keegan Cummins, O'Neill's 6-foot-10 freshman post man from Escondido High School, added 6 points and 5 rebounds.

The Lancers jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but the Comets came back to go in front briefly and the teams batted back and forth before Sean Birk (El Camino High) put Palomar ahead to stay 16-15 when he took the ball to the hoop with 10:52 to play in the first half. Marcel Condray, a 6-foot-8 post player from Vista Murrieta High, gave the Comets' their biggest lead at 16 points when on a layup with 6:09 remaining in the second half. That put Palomar on top 76-63.

The teams in the opposite bracket are Antelope Valley, Orange Coast, Moorpark and Riverside City College.

  

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