Two Former Panthers in NCAA Men’s Tournament
The Hartnell College athletics program will be well represented in the national spotlight as two former Panther basketball players make their debuts in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this week.
Eric Petty and his No. 16 seed Mississippi Valley State (17-15, 12-6) team face up against No. 1 UCLA on Thursday night, March 20, in the opening round of the West Regional in the Honda Center in Anaheim. The game starts at 6:55 PST on CBS.
Yusef Smith, a forward who came to Hartnell from Monterey High, will be on the St. Mary’s of California roster when the Gaels (25-6, 12-2), a No. 10 seed, face No. 7 Miami in the opening round of the Houston Bracket in the South Regional on Friday, March 21. The game starts at 9:30 a.m. Pacific Time.
Petty, a standout for the Panthers last year, averages 6.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game for the Delta Devils, who were an automatic bid to the tournament after beating the Jackson State Tigers, 59-58, in the final second of the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship game on Saturday.
Petty had arguably his best game of the season in the quarterfinal round of the conference championships when he led all scorers with 19 points to beat Grambling State, 79-73.
The Delta Devils last appeared in the NCAA tournament in 1996. They enter the tournament with a 9-game win streak.
Smith finished at Hartnell in 2005. He was a Second Team All-Coast Conference South selection, averaging 13.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 4.1 blocks a game as a freshman. He led the Coast Conference South in rebounds (230) and blocked shots (105). He sat out the 2005-06 season and saw limited action last year.
The Gaels reached the tournament as an at large bid from the West Coast Conference, which has three teams in the tournament. This year, Smith has averaged 4.6 points and 3.5 rebounds per game for the Gaels.