From Friday, Nov. 24 to Sunday, Nov. 26, the Whittier College Men’s and Women’s Basketball Teams competed in the Whittier College Annual Purple and Gold Poet Classic Tournament. Although some games were cut close, both Poet teams proved themselves champions as each gained a win against their opponents.
The Purple and Gold Poet Classic is a jam-packed weekend full of exciting back-to-back basketball games. This event is held annually in Whittier College’s Graham Athletic Center, where the college had the privilege of hosting six games total.
On Friday, the games consisted of Chapman University Women’s Basketball vs Finlandia University and Chapman Men’s Basketball vs University of California Merced. For Saturday, the Whittier Women’s Basketball Team played Finlandia, Whittier Men’s Basketball played UC Merced, and Chapman Men’s Basketball played the College of New Rochelle. As for Sunday, the Whittier College Men’s Basketball team took on New Rochelle as the only game for the night.
The Whittier College Women’s Basketball Team was up first in Saturday’s continuation of the Purple and Gold Poet Classic as they took on Finlandia. The team’s communication was spot-on as the Poets took the lead early on in the first quarter. The Poet’s lead continued through the third quarter, when the team outscored the Lions with a whopping 27-8. First-year forward Emily Guerena contributed heavily to her team’s score, gaining nine points in the third quarter.
As the game continued, the Lions started to fight back, closing in the Poet’s 20-point lead gap. In an attempt to maintain their victory over Finlandia, the Poets stepped up their game. Third-year guard Mia Maglinte added 12 points to the scoreboard, locking in the win for the Poets with two free throws. With a valiant effort, the Poets tamed the Lions, finishing the close battle 67-64.
“[There were] many ups and downs during the game,” said first-year Jujus Molina. “We have a lot of things to work on as a whole, but I think that the mistakes we make and the games we play will help shape us into a great team.”
Saturday’s Men’s Basketball game proved challenging for both Whittier College and UC Merced. The teams scored back and forth throughout the first few stages. It was not until UC Merceds’ offense pushed forward in the first half of the game that any team held a great lead, bringing the score in favor of the Bobcats 28-18. With the help of fourth-year forward Conner Longmire and second-year power forward Nick Potthoff, the Poets were able to gain points and bring the Bobcat lead to an end, leaving the score tied 33-33. Louis Kurihara was able to break the tie with a pair of free throws, switching the lead over to the Poets 35-34.
Unfortunately, that was short-lived when UC Merced scored nine more points in the beginning of the second half, once again handing the lead to the Bobcats 43-35. Whittier continued to put up a hard fight, gaining the lead only to lose it yet again. Longmire and fourth-year Eric Davis assisted in a Poet point gain, leaving the score 59-57 in favor of Whittier. The game continued to be close, but left the Poets just two points short of a win with a final score of 77-75.
However, the Whittier College Men’s Basketball Team’s luck seemed to turn around with Sunday’s game against New Rochelle. Though the Poets trailed 16-7 early in the first half, second-year guard Ryan Henry scored a total of 14 points back to back, gaining the lead for Whittier 21-16. New Rochelle tried their hardest to fight back, but the Poet point gap continued to increase. With the help of Longmire, Kurihara, and fourth-year forward Victor Nwaba, the team gained a 45-33 double-digit lead.
As the game continued into the second half, the point gap only got larger. The Poets left the Blue Devils in the dust, out-scoring the team by 20 points. Third-year forward Reggie Dixon upped the score 13 points, sealing the victory for the Poets. The team claimed their victory against New Rochelle and put on end to their streak, finalizing the game 101-69.