Fast paced Dons take early exit

SHOOTER: Sophomore guard Kevin Ramirez scored five points and assisted on two baskets in the Dons’ first-round road playoff loss to the Irvine Valley College Lasers, Feb. 27. It was the Dons first playoff appearance in two years.

Don’s Men’s Basketball season recap.

The Don’s first playoff berth in two years lasted one game. Irvine Valley College eliminated the Santa Ana College men’s basketball team 69-55 in February during the first round of the California Community College Athletic Association playoffs. Following the lopsided loss, the players’ disappointment and frustration was clear in the locker room.

“We definitely failed as a team,” freshman guard Cammie Lewis said. “They came out hot hitting three’s, and we just couldn’t stop them.”

Lewis started the game at IVC after coming off the bench in the two regular season games against the Lasers. He hit four of 12 field goal attempts while making all four of his free throws, finishing with 12 points.

After winning eight games in the 2011-2012 season, the Dons mixed a group of freshmen with four returning sophomores.

The team had to withstand the loss of two impact players. Guard Chad Young tore his ACL in the first week of practice and forward Kashif Williams was academically ineligible. Young will be next year’s captain, Head Coach David Breig said.

Without multiple post players the team lacked size, finishing with at least two rebounds less than their opponents per game, the second worst differential in the conference.

“When a 5-foot-10-inch guy is boxing out a 6-foot-3-inch guy, he can reach right over,” Breig said.

Despite a bleak off-season that began with key losses, the Dons started strong going 10-4 in the first two months. The story changed once conference play began. The team finished 5-7 in the Orange Empire Conference, but its strong start helped SAC to a 15-12 record overall. It is the Dons’ first winning season in six years. For now the bitterness of the early playoff exit overshadowed the goal of making the post season.

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“We accomplished our main goal,” said Large. “But to go out like this … it hurts.”

Large played at SAC three years ago before serving two years in the Navy. He averaged 12 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, both team highs.

Captain Kevin Ramirez, Raymond Barros, Chase Miller and Large are all transferring.

But 10 players return next year, including guards Lewis, Emanuel and Martin Kim. They played at least 17.8 minutes per game, contributing a combined 29.1 points per game.

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