Wednesday marked a return to normalcy for two local college basketball teams – for two very different reasons.
San Diego State regrouped with a 81-58 victory over San Diego Christian College two days after an embarrassing loss to Gonzaga.
The Aztecs pulled away from the Hawks in the second half and cruised to an 81-58 victory as Jeremy Hemsley led the way with 23 points. St. Augustine product Trey Kell chipped in with 19 and Dakari Allen added a couple of dunks on his way to a 15 point outing.
Even in defeat, this game was therapeutic in a way for the visitors (San Diego Christian is a NAIA school in Santee). The SDC men’s basketball team was involved in a scary bus accident Sunday morning when the Hawks were on their way back home after playing a game in Bakersfield.
A driver in a Volkswagen Jetta hit the basketball team’s charter bus and was later pronounced dead at the scene. As both vehicles caught fire, the entire SDC team and coaching staff on the bus evacuated safely with no major injuries but the team did lose many belongings including jerseys, shoes, cell phones and laptops.
One can only imagine how shaken some of the players must have been after experiencing something like that.
“We had to get back to basketball,” admitted SDC coach Edgar Mendez after Wednesday’s game. “We were thinking so much about other stuff and it's tough. It's on your mind and this is probably the best medicine we could have at this point.”
But getting back into a routine is easier said than done.
“What happened to them was something that you hope would never happen to A) a team and B) a school bus full of young people,” said SDSU coach Steve Fisher. “I guess [it was] rammed and catches fire and the whole bus goes and we talked about guys losing.... most of the things on there from computers to backpacks to everything.
So that had to be terribly scary for everyone and the driver of the car lost his life so fortunately they were all OK. But I’m sure for them it is a moment they will never forget and one that shook them pretty good. Glad they’re OK.”
Isaiah Milan led SDC with 19 points. Luis Salgado was the only other Hawk in double figures with a dozen.