[an error occurred while processing this directive]
NEW PORT RICHEY -- The final games of 2002 contrasted sharply with the first game of 2003 for the Pasco-Hernando Community College basketball team.
The hosts won twice in the PHCC Classic thanks to solid efforts in both contests.
But in Saturday's Suncoast Conference opener, the Conquistadors did not play a complete game, according to coach Bobby Bowman. That resulted in a blown lead and a 79-68 loss to St. Petersburg College.
PHCC (8-10, 0-1 in the conference) gets a chance to even its conference record Wednesday when it hosts Manatee at 7:30 p.m.
"We played very well for 30 minutes, but you've got to play for 40 minutes," Bowman said of Saturday's loss.
PHCC led defending conference and state champion St. Petersburg 44-36 at the half and 57-55 with 10 minutes left. "Turnovers and the inability to score (late in that game) made the difference," Bowman said.
St. Petersburg's Carl Jenkins scored a game-high 28 points. PHCC was led by Chris Thompson (21 points) and Zach Ingles (20).
The Conquistadors entered conference play with a two-game win streak. They defeated Fashion Institute Tech (N.Y.) 78-57 and Milwaukee Area Tech 81-65 in the Dec. 30-31 tournament.
After those games, Bowman said, "The chemistry is good.
"Our goal is to see each individual improve in practice and in games. I think they've seen that."
Thompson, who leads PHCC in scoring (22.5 average) and rebounding (11), had 29 points and 16 rebounds against FIT. Also in that game, Chris Isidore had 15 points, including three 3-pointers. Ingles, PHCC's second-leading scorer (15.7) and leading 3-point shooter (49.4 percent), chipped in with 12 points and two 3-pointers. Against Milwaukee, Thompson, a sophomore center who last season became the first PHCC freshman named to the all-state team, led four Conquistadors in double figures with 21 points.
In that game, Ingles scored 18. Chris Jackson had 11 points and seven rebounds, and T.J. Bishop had his best game of the season with 14 points, 8 assists and 4 steals.
The host team nearly had five players in double figures. Marvin Davis came off the bench to contribute eight points and 10 rebounds.
Before the tournament, PHCC had not played in 10 days.
"When you take a long layoff, you're always concerned with how you're going to be when you come back," Bowman said. "The guys came back feeling pretty good about themselves."
The time off helped Jackson, a former Lecanto standout and sophomore transfer from Florida College who missed two games with a sprained ankle. Jackson, a forward, had 12 rebounds in his first game back against FIT.
Of PHCC's 10 losses, six have been by five points or fewer.
The Conquistadors average 75.5 points while allowing 69.9.