SAN MARCOS (11-24-2017) -- Palomar gave newly-minted community college powerhouse Santiago Canyon College everything it could handle and then some for a little over a half in the teams' opening-round game of the Palomar Thanksgiving Tournament on Friday evening in The Dome.
But, led by 6-foot-5 swing man Rodney Harrison out of St. John Bosco High School, Santiago Canyon's first-ever men's basketball team suddenly kicked it up several gears, roared past the Comets early in the second half and continued on to an 85-74 victory. This all happened after Palomar had led 45-30 lead late in the first half and was ahead of the Hawks 45-33 at intermission.
Harrison scored 30 points and also contributed 14 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals -- and was 15-for-19 from the free throw stripe. He played the starring role as the Hawks (8-0), who came into the tournament averaging 99.9 points for their first seven games, set up an early-season showdown with defending California State Community College champion and pre-season No. 1-ranked San Diego City College (8-2) in a semifinal game on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Knights held off Orange Coast's upset bid in their first-round game 73-72.
The other semifinal is slated to tip off at 5 p.m. and will pit 2015 state champion Saddleback, a 73-55 winner over Southwestern, and San Diego Miramar, which defeated Los Angeles Harbor 78-76 to go to 5-1 on the season. In the consolation semis, Southwestern will play Harbor at 1 p.m. and Palomar will face Orange Coast at 3 p.m.
Antoine Jenkins added 24 points for Santiago Canyon as he and Harrison teamed up to score 54 of the Hawks' 85 points.
For Palomar (3-2), which was playing without leading season scorer LaVale Coleman-Bell who broke a hand in practice on Monday, both Matt Meyers and Jackson Strong stepped up.
Meyers, a 6-foot-8 sophomore out of San Marcos High School who originally played a season at Miramar College before a stint in the service, scored 21 points. He dominated physically inside, went 5-for-7 from the field and was 11-for-14 from the free throw line, while grabbing 8 rebounds. Strong, a 6-foot-4 guard and former Torrey Pines High standout, had the hot hand from 3-point range in the first half as he helped the Comets open the 15-point lead. For the game, he was 5-for-12 from the field, was 4-for-9 from behind the arc, and pulled down 7 rebounds.
Corday Fairey had 11 points and 5 rebounds for the Comets. Matt Beeler and Mike Chatman each scored 8 points.
The tournament will conclude Sunday with the championship game at 7 p.m. That will follow the consolation title game at 1 p.m. and the third-place game at 3 p.m.