San Diego City 90, Fresno City 82 — Five players, including four starters, scored in double figures on Saturday evening at Ventura College as defending champion San Diego City College notched a return to the California Community College Athletic Association Men's Basketball Championship with the victory.
The win lifts the Knights (33-2) into Sunday's championship game against either Cerritos College (27-5) or City College of San Francisco (31-2), which are playing in the second semifinal. Ethan Esposito scored 18 points to lead San Diego City while Wonder Smith (15), Robert Taylor (12) and Robert McCoy (12) provided more balanced scoring among the starting five. Luis Salgado came off the bench to add 10, including a pair of big 3-pointers down the stretch.
Tyus Millhollin scored 21 points in 17 minutes of action for Fresno City while Drew Cobb added 12. Jess Spivey, Eric Pierce and Georgie Dancer each tallied 10 points for the Rams (28-5).
The game was tight in the early going with the Knights and Rams exchanging the lead in the opening minutes. However, an 8-0 run by San Diego City, spurred by 3-pointers from Smith and McCoy, and a layup from Taylor, turned a two-point deficit into a 16-10 lead with 13:44 left in the half. Isaac Davis' layup stretched the lead to 28-18 with just under nine minutes left in the half but Fresno City came back, closing to within five points with six minutes to go. But a 14-5 surge to close the half, behind scoring from four different players, helped the Knights go into halftime with a 44-30 lead. San Diego City shot 46% from the field in the opening 20 minutes while the Rams were held to just 27%.
The Knights led by as many as 15 points in the second half and held a double-digit lead until Dancer's layup with 12:39 left cut the Rams' deficit to just 56-48. Fresno continued to stick around and moved to within 72-67 with 3:43 remaining when Tyus Millhollin hit a 3-pointer and followed it with a pair of free throws a minute later. However, a three-point play from Esposito and a pair of treys from Salgado later put the lead back into double-figures until the final minute. McCoy added seven rebounds and three blocks for San Diego City while Smith had four assists and two points. The Knights hit 12 of 24 (.500) from beyond the arc for the game and shot 52% from the floor overall in the second half.
Tommy Nuno had a big game off the glass for Fresno, grabbing 15 rebounds, including six on the offensive side. He also led the team with three assists. San Diego City's state championship last year was the first in program history. The Knights defeated Fullerton College, 53-51, when Darius McClain went coast-to-coast in the final seconds to put in a layup for the win. The Rams were looking for their first appearance in the title game since winning it all in 2012 over Yuba College.
San Francisco City 89, Cerritos 83 — Down by 13 points with 8:31 remaining, City College of San Francisco staged a dramatic comeback to defeat Cerritos College, 89-83, in the semifinals of the California Community College Men's Basketball Championships . The state top-ranked Rams (32-1) will play defending state champion and second ranked San Diego City College (33-2) in Sunday's 3:30 p.m. championship game. SDCC defeated Fresno City College, 90-82, in the other semi.
CCSF trailed, 73-60, with 8:31 remaining before going on a 15-1 run to take the lead at 75-74 with 4:06 left on a layup by Lester Hayes. But it was far from over.
Cerritos ended a nearly 5-minute field goal drought with a basket by Jonathan Guzman to retake the lead. San Francisco responded with a 3-point play by Terrell Brown, who was fouled on his successful lay-up, for a 78-76 advantage. Christian Alvis of Cerritos tied it for the last time with a field goal with 3:12 on the clock. Then Hayes produced the go ahead basket on a layup to make it 80-78 with 2:54 remaining.
Although the Falcons were unable to retake the lead, it was still a 1-point game at 84-83 with less than a minute to play. Hayes gave the Rams a 3-point margin at 86-83 with 43 seconds left with a put back of a missed free throw. A 3-point play (off a basket and free throw) by Eddie Stansberry added the decisive touch with 22 seconds remaining.
Hayes, a 6-6 sophomore forward from Chavez High School (Stockton) was the game's top scorer (25 points) and rebounder (7). Brown, a 6-0 sophomore guard out of Moreau Catholic (Hayward) had 17 points and five rebounds. He was 11 of 12 from the free throw line (where CCSF had a substantial 25-8 point advantage over the Falcons). Stansbury, a 6-3 sophomore guard from Archbishop Riordan (San Francisco) had 14 points. Cerritos was led by Riley Hamilton, a 6-6 sophomore from Rancho Verde (Moreno Valley) and Demetrius Thomas, a 6-8 sophomore from Bassick (Bridgeport, Conn.), each with 16 points.
Except for the early second half lapse by the Rams, it was a close game throughout – with 21 lead changes and eight ties. Coast North Conference champion CCSF has won 28 games since its only loss, 90-63, to College of the Sequoias in the Fresno City College tournament on Nov. 17. San Francisco won recent state titles in 2011 and 2016 and was the runner-up in 2010.