As the hard core basketball fans of the Antelope Valley College men’s team headed to their practice last evening, they saw a very tall man heading the same way. Very tall. He was with two other tall men and I must admit our heart may have skipped a beat thinking first are these our players who are late for practice or are these next year’s players checking in early!
Instead, it was NBA’s Dewayne Dedmon, 7’0”, 255 now starting for the San Antonio Spurs and two of his former teammates at AVC, Edwin Herrera and Jason Logan. Dedmon flew home over the all star break to visit family and his long time friends. Of course to give a boost to AVC’s team in the playoffs.
Its been one crazy year for the AVC basketball season as both the men’s and women’s team are playing in the first round of the playoffs on Wednesday; Men at home at 7 pm against Santa Monica and the Women at Long Beach City. Both teams want more than the first round as the article from the Antelope Valley Press documents.
AVC men, women get set for playoffs Wednesday
As the Antelope Valley College basketball men put up a road map (Route 66) on the Marauder Gym scoreboard against Glendale in the first half Saturday night, Marauder Nation got downright jiggy with it.
With the Maroon and Gray up 66-29 at halftime, there were various chants of "TA-COS! TA-COS!," along with "BIG MACS, BIG MACS!" as though a Lakers or JetHawks game had broken out.
"If Newton were here, he could probably take care of them," wryly noted AVC Coach John Taylor, referring to the namsake of Marauder Gym’s Newton Chelette Court.
Alas, Chelette had to leave to coach his own Paraclete team.
The mischievous twinkle in Taylor’s eye wasn’t just about AVC’s irrepressible Hall of Fame coach.
The only Southern California coach to lead both men’s and women’s teams to the State Final Four has something even more appetizing than tacos or Big Macs in mind.
Say, a surprisingly long run in the State Tournament?
"We’ve had teams that had great seasons, and then we ran into a hot team in the tournament and it was over," Taylor said. "This year, we may just be that hot team in March."
It tells you the enormity of the cultural revolution Chelette and Taylor have wrought that a 19-10, co-championship of the Mountain State East Division season has some Marauder spoils ready to throw it back.
It’s the first time Taylor hasn’t won 20 games since 2010-11, when he tried to coach the Marauder men’s and women’s teams in the same season.
Maintaining intensity was a season-long issue. The Marauders sleepwalked through a loss to Barstow and often made overmatched opponents maddeningly competitive.
But Saturday made up for all of that. AVC hung 116 on GCC, the most points scored in 18 years and topped only by the 120 rung up one night in 1995.
It earned AVC a home date in the first round Wednesday night against Santa Monica.
Bring your tacos and Big Macs.
Santa Monica has a special place in modern Marauder lore.
It’s sort of like the place the docking of the Hindenburg has in aviation history.
Chelette’s seventh AVC team would have been the first in 32 years to reach the State Elite Eight were it not for three blind mice in striped shirts who instead authored a tutorial on officiating malfeasance.
As highlight videos go, the Zapruder Film was more believable.
That loss drove AVC to a 33-win season and the State Eight a year later.
Three more AVC men’s teams have made that journey since, including Taylor’s 2013-14 squad.
Monday confirmed just how special Saturday’s Sophomore Night truly was.
Coach Barry Green’s Marauder women also earned a playoff berth, at Long Beach City, on Wednesday night.
A season that began 4-10 ended with share of the MSC East title, and an 11-3 run.
It was a year the ladies could have bagged and tagged early, and forgotten about.
But they refused to.
And their defiance has made them anything but a comfortable opponent as the only part of any basketball season that is remembered gets set to unfold.
This Marauder playoff season, on both sides, looks like one that could build up an appetite.
No wonder Marauder Nation was having so much fun clearing its throats.