Santiago Canyon (8-0) comes from 15 down, rallies to beat PC

Mike Chatman scores vs. Santiago Canyon. No. 50 for Palomar is Matt Meyers, who stepped up in the absence of injured LaVale Coleman-Bell with 21 points and 8 rebounds. -- Photo by Hugh Cox
Mike Chatman scores vs. Santiago Canyon. No. 50 for Palomar is Matt Meyers, who stepped up in the absence of injured LaVale Coleman-Bell with 21 points and 8 rebounds. -- Photo by Hugh Cox

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.