The City College of San Francisco, the reigning CCCAA men's basketball champions, trailed by 17 points just after halftime but staged a monstrous rally in the second half and won in overtime, 82-76 over Citrus College on Saturday afternoon at Ventura College in the first of two semifinals at this year's championship tournament.
San Francisco will look to win its second straight state title tomorrow at 1 p.m. against the winner of the Fullerton-Fresno City semifinal game.
City College of San Francisco had a balanced attack with eight players scoring points for the Rams. Malcolm Johnson led the offense with a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double. Emeka Udenyi came off the bench to lead the team in scoring with 16 points while grabbing 7 rebounds of his own.
It was an evenly matched game early on, with teams trading baskets and keeping the score within a few points. San Francisco got into foul trouble early, amassing six team fouls in under seven minutes, and was forced to slow things down with the game's first timeout after Citrus gained an 8-point lead on back-to-back three pointers by Psalm Maduakor and Toby Okwuokei. Halfway through the opening period, they were already in the bonus and enjoying a comfortable 22-13 lead.
City fought back with a six-point swing over the next couple minutes to shrink their deficit to three, drawing Citrus's first timeout at 8:38. But then the Rams were ice cold for the rest of the half, shooting just 1 for 12 from the field and conceding four turnovers while Citrus cruised ahead and took a 38-23 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
The second half began much like the first, except with the Owls getting into foul trouble early, getting whistled four times in the first two and a half minutes; the hacking continued for a total of 15 team fouls by the middle of the period. After holding Citrus from running away with the game, the Rams capitalized on a pair of bonus free throws to spark a 13-4 run over four minutes, eventually earning a 64-63 lead at the 3:09 mark by an Emeka Udenyi layup that sent the City fans into a frenzy. Citrus's offensive struggles continued, and the Rams put an exclamation point on their rally with an uncontested fast break layup, with Deschon Winston collecting a rebound and feeding a sprinting Austin McCullough, making it a 70-66 game. The last six Rams field goals of the half were all scored by different shooters.
But the Owls didn't quit, and after a Colby Orr three pointer and trading free throws with San Francisco, Josh Caston hit a layup to tie the game at 72 with one second remaining, forcing the first overtime period of the weekend.
In the extra frame, the teams avoided fouling on defense, and it was back and forth on the scoreboard with Citrus initially answering for each Rams basket. Then with 36 seconds left, Malcolm Johnson stole the ball from Colby Orr on the Citrus end and laid it up and in to seal the Owls' fate.
In Citrus College's effort, Psalm Maduakor posted a double-double as a reserve, sinking 15 points and picking up 13 rebounds. Jesse Elrod led the Owls in points with 18, also grabbing 8 boards. Ultimately Citrus were outscored by San Francisco 56-30 in the paint, and found little success shooting beyond the arc.
(Brian Mellblom, CCCSIA)
The CCCAA Men's Basketball State Championship game is now set after the Fullerton College Hornets shut down Fresno City College, 58-49, in their Saturday semifinal matchup. Fullerton, winner of the 20-17 state banner will take on defending champion City College of San Francisco (31-1) at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast live here.
Fullerton dominated early the first half, holding Fresno City scoreless for the first six minutes and racking up a 19-2 lead by the 9:36 mark. Fresno gave up five turnovers and missed their first four shots of the game before finally getting on the board with a Georgie Dancer layup in the sixth minute of play. Meanwhile, Fullerton casually ran up their score with a balanced offensive effort, with baskets from six different Hornet players and punishing Fresno for their nine first half turnovers. At halftime, the Rams trailed by 12 and were shooting just 23.8% from the field.
Fresno City didn't panic in the second half, preventing Fullerton from extending its halftime lead and answering for each of the Hornets' baskets, eventually whittling the deficit to six points on an emphatic slam dunk by Ethan Richardson just over the midway part of the half. The Hornets kicked it back into high gear, responding with seven points of their own, aided by a Lance Coleman II steal, and forcing a shot clock violation on the Rams' next possession. By then, the Hornets led by 16 inside seven minutes to play.
Fullerton then parked the bus in their front court, Jailen Moore holding the ball and attempting a couple low-pressure three pointers, his teammates scooping up offensive rebounds to keep the game clock ticking down. Fresno would finally cut its deficit back to single digits with a Georgie Dancer three-pointer from the left corner, making it a 54-46 game with 90 seconds remaining. Eljay Gallegos hit another three with 40 ticks left, bringing the Rams to within five. They had resort to fouling to stop the clock but simply ran out of time to stage a big enough comeback.
Two Hornets posted double digit points: Lance Coleman with 15, adding a game-high 8 rebounds, and Ronne Readus with 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. Ethan Richardson led the Rams on their half of the scoresheet with 11 points and 7 rebounds, while Georgie Dancer netted 9 points and 5 assists in Fresno's effort.