|Sophomore Jeff Bonds and junior Guy Beahm watch a shot go in by sophomore David Sybesma during the Broncos' 62-49 victory over Cal State Bakersfield Saturday night in the NCAA Division II West Region at BYU-Hawaii.|
LAIE, HI ? Cal Poly Pomona?s men?s basketball team, which has already accomplished one of the most successful seasons in the program?s history, will now look for its grandest prize yet.
The fourth-seeded Broncos (22-7) will face CCAA champion and No. 1 seed Cal State San Bernardino Monday at 9:00 p.m. PST at BYU-Hawaii in the NCAA Division II West Regional final. The winner advance to the Elite Eight in Lakeland, Fla.
The Broncos, who finished second in the CCAA, are attempting to become the first Cal Poly Pomona men?s team to win three playoff games in one year. Only one other Cal Poly Pomona team ? the 1963-64 squad ? won two postseason games in a single season. This is only the fourth Cal Poly Pomona team to be in the NCAA Division II playoffs. The first team to reach the playoffs was the 1961-62 team, which beat Fresno State and then lost to Sacramento State. The 1963-64 team beat the University of Nevada, Reno and Fresno State before losing to Evansville College. Finally, the 1975-76 team lost to Puget Sound and then beat UC Davis in a third-place game.
And now, 27 years later, the Broncos have defeated No. 5 seed Alaska Fairbanks and No. 8 seed Cal State Bakersfield to reach the regional final.
?Just the fact that we are one of two teams still playing here is great,? said Cal Poly Pomona forward Jeff Bonds (So., Compton, Mayfair HS). ?It?s a great accomplishment for all of us. We?ve worked so hard this year and it?s all paid off.?
?It?s very exciting to be one of only 16 teams left out there in all of Division II still playing,? Cal Poly Pomona guard/forward David Sybesma said. ?We worked very hard this year and we expected to make the playoffs. This is what we came here to do, to beat some teams and show them that Cal Poly Pomona is for real and that we?re not a fluke.?
The Broncos have advanced with a pair of well-played playoff performances. In the opening-round game against No. 5 seed Alaska Fairbanks, the Broncos shot 54.7 percent while beating the Nanooks, 80-76. Guy Beahm (Jr., Willow Glen, West Valley JC) led four Broncos in double figures with 15 points and eight rebounds. Jonathan Williams (Jr., Pasadena, John Muir HS) had 14 points, five assists and four rebounds, while David Sybesma (So., Corona, Corona Centennial HS) had 13 points and eight rebounds and Jonathan Boyd (Fr., Fontana, Etiwanda HS) had a season-high 11 points and three rebounds.
Cal Poly Pomona then posted its third straight win over Cal State Bakersfield this season and fifth overall with a 62-49 victory on Saturday night. Bonds had a splendid performance, pouring in a game-high 20 points to go along with six rebounds and two assists. Sybesma had another strong outing with 19 points and 10 rebounds. The Broncos outrebounded the Roadrunners, 31-24, including an 18-7 edge in the second half and shot 47 percent. The game was tied at 42-42 with 8:44 to go, but a jumper by Sybesma and a 3-pointer by Sybesma in a one-minute span put the Broncos ahead for good.
The historic season is coming despite the fact the Broncos lost nine players from last year?s team, which went 18-9 and just missed the playoffs. Three Cal Poly Pomona players have earned All-CCAA honors this year: Bonds made the first-team, while Sybesma and Williams were both named to the second team. Five first-year players have also made a significant impact on the 2002-03 team.
?It?s great to know we are doing things this season that haven?t been accomplished before,? Bonds said. ?It?s great to be a part of history.?
?We have belief in our team,? Sybesma said. ?We don?t have any selfish players and we pass the ball. Our defense is the key. If we can hold teams to 40 or 50 points, we have a great chance of winning.?
Cal State San Bernardino, meanwhile, which advanced to the Elite Eight last season, has overpowered No. 7 seed Sonoma State and No. 3 seed Humboldt State to reach the regional final.
The Broncos and Coyotes split a pair of games during the regular season. Cal Poly Pomona posted a 68-64 win over Cal State San Bernardino on Dec. 7 in Kellogg Gym. Williams had 16 points in that one to lead four players in double figures. Bonds had 13 points, Michael Ridgway (Jr., Houston, TX, Lamar University) had 11 points and seven rebounds and Sybesma had 10 points.
In the rematch two weeks later at Coussoulis Arena, the Broncos dropped a 72-64 decision. The Broncos had a six-point halftime lead, but the Coyotes outscored them in the second half, 72-64. Bonds had 16 points to lead the Broncos, while Williams had 13 and Sybesma added 10.
Cal State San Bernardino?s defense was No. 1 in the CCAA, while the Broncos were No. 2. All signs points to a physical game with a trip to the Elite Eight as the reward to the winner.
?It?s going to be a physical game; it?s going to be all-out for 40 minutes with the winner going to Florida,? Bonds said. ?We both know the situation and we?re both going to bring it. San Bernardino is very good. We knew the way the brackets were set up there was a chance we?d be playing them in the finals.?
The Broncos enjoyed an off day on Sunday that included a meeting with President Suzuki at the team hotel.
A cybercast of the regional championship game will be available on the athletic department's Web page at www.cpp.edu/~athletic/Info/audiocast.html. Tip-off is set for Monday, March 17, at 9 p.m. PST.
For the latest updates on all Bronco athletic teams and events, go to www.cpp.edu/~athletic or call (909) 869-2812. For tournament brackets and the latest playoff scores and information, visit the NCAA Web site at www.ncaasports.com. Tournament brackets can also be accessed at polycentric.cpp.edu/ncaa1.