PASADENA (Apr. 23, 2017) – The fifth annual SoCal College Senior Showcase took place on Sunday and featured a little bit of everything--from otherworldly scoring performances to familiar faces to a fantastic finish.
This year's rendition pitted the SCIAC's top senior players against an All-Star team comprised of SCIAC Alumni. Caltech assistant coach Jordan Mast coached the SCIAC Seniors while fellow assistant Steve Hodge coached the SCIAC Alumni All-Stars.
The alumni team ultimately came out on top, 138-136, after former Chapman University Panthers guard Colin Zavrsnick sunk the go-ahead triple off a beautifully orchestrated staggered screen with less than 10 seconds to go in regulation. Zavrsnick finished the game with 18 points, all of which came from beyond the arc while California Lutheran University senior Wolfgang Wood led all scorers with a whopping 40 points on 16 of 27 overall shooting and 5 of 10 from 3-point land. The all-conference forward added seven rebounds and five assists for good measure.
An outstanding defensive stand from the SCIAC alumni following the Zavrsnick three-pointer forced the seniors to foul former Panther and former Arizona State transfer Michael Atwater on the ensuing inbound. Atwater, who scored 29 points in the game, drilled both free throws, and forced the seniors to opt for a three. With the seniors down by two points, University of La Verne senior Anthony White got fouled on the would-be game-tying three. White knocked down the second shot of three attempts, and executed a perfect intentional miss; however, the Seniors couldn't corral the rebound and ran out of time to reclaim the lead.
The game was close throughout as both teams showed their skills from the outset. The Alumni struck first with a 5-0 spurt, but Wood went right to work and tallied six makes on seven shots in the opening period. Neither squad had a lead of more than five the entire first half.
Two-time all-SCIAC guard and La Verne senior Hakim Arnold brought the crowd to its feet when he jammed an alley-oop pass from Cal Lu's Adrian Francis on the first possession of the second half. White hit a three, Whittier's Jordan Bickerstaff stole the ball from the Alumni, and Francis nailed another triple to extend the margin to 11 at the 10:50 mark in the third quarter, giving the Seniors the first double-digit lead of the contest, 72-61. That capped an 11-1 run going back to the end of the first half when La Verne's Cruz Mertens sank a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the Seniors a 64-61 advantage.
After an Alumni timeout and free throw from Cal Lu graduate Jeremy Sulker-Hall, Mertens rose up and drained yet another three-pointer to give the Seniors the largest lead of the game, 75-62. With the Seniors seemingly in control, the Alumni launched a steady comeback the rest of the frame, keyed by Zavrsnick's perfect four of four from long-range. A three by Whittier alum Nick Demusis and then two trifectas from Zavrsnick -- the second of which was another quarter-ending buzzer-beater -- propelled the Alumni back in front, 106-104, as the vets outscored the Seniors 44-29 the last 10:30.
The Alumni continued the momentum and extended their lead by nine, 113-104, with 11:33 in the fourth, but the Seniors stormed back with contributions from everyone. Caltech senior Ricky Galliani (Menlo Park, Calif. / Sacred Heart Prep)capped the 21-6 run with a classic offensive rebound and put-back to give the Seniors a 125-119 lead with just more than five minutes remaining. A three and a layup by Whittier's Nick Demusis and David Richardson, and two dunks by Atwater, helped the Alumni tie the score, setting up the wild finish.
With the Seniors down one, White drilled a three-pointer from his Leopard teammate Arnold. Cal Lu's former all-league guard and current pro player in Italy, Arik Smith, responded with a 3 of his own. Arnold came back with an offensive rebound and finished a traditional 3-point play to give the Seniors their 135-133 lead. That set up the Zavrsnick heroics for the Alumni.
Galliani logged 28 minutes and scored seven points to go with five rebounds. Meanwhile, Rob Anderson '16, the Beavers' lone representative on the alumni side finished with six points as he provided back-to-back 3-pointers in the second quarter. White (23 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists) and Francis (22 points, 10 assists) accrued double-doubles on the seniors' side while Demusis (28 points, 10 rebounds) and fellow Whittier alum Eric Jennings (14 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists) had double-doubles for the victors. Zavrsnick's 3-point onslaught (6 of 9) helped his team shoot 46.2 percent (18 of 39) from deep. The former all-SCIAC guard added seven rebounds, four assists, three blocks, and three steals.
The SoCal Senior Showcase traditionally was an annual senior all-star game for men's players from Division II and Division III institutions in California. Caltech Head Coach Dr. Oliver Eslinger and his staff implemented the event in 2013 as a way to highlight the careers of outstanding basketball players from the SCIAC, the CCAA, the Pacific West, and other non-Division I colleges in California.