By Ryan Kuhn
With everything coming at them, including the Coast Conference’s leading scorer and a late second half run, the Rams escaped Cañada College with their 19th consecutive win.
After being up by only three points with two minutes left in the game, City College defeated Cañada 78-71 Feb. 4 to improve their record to a state’s best 24-1 (9-0).
City College head coach Justin LaBagh knew this would be a tough game against a tough opponent.
“They made some really good shots,” he said. “[Cañada] is one of the top teams in Northern California and we knew they were going to hit shots.”
Even though Cañada is led by sophomore Peter Pappageorge, who averages 20 points per game, the Rams were able to hold their lead secured early in the second half despite giving Cañada an opening with fouls.
“We screwed up with fouls. We fouled a lot,” LaBagh said. “We contributed to that run.”
The first half was controlled by point guard Daryl Cooper who hit three 3-pointers, to score nine of his total 12 points.
Coming out with energy, the Rams started the second half on a 16-5 run extending the game to a 20-point lead, 56-36, and put the Colts on their heels.
“Coach said come out and relax a little bit,” Rams forward Jonathon Williams said. “We came down, started executing and we found the open man. Shots started falling for us.”
Williams, who is fourth in the conference in scoring, finished with 19 points, six shy of his season high.
Soon after, the Colts started chipping away at the lead. Rams’ leading scorer Colin Chiverton fouled out midway though the second half, and momentum switched toward Cañada.
With the Colts down by three and the crowd starting to come to life, City College was forced to take a time out.
“Coach said to try to get the ball out of [Pappageorge’s] hands,” Williams said.
In the final two minutes, City College kept their composure and only allowed Pappageorge and the Colts to score three points, saving the lead and the game.
The previous game against Skyline College was a big margin of victory, and LaBagh said he learned a lot from this close game.
“You don’t get much out of a game like Skyline except playing a lot of guys,” he said. “This one, you get see what you are made of.”
City College’s next opponent will be Ohlone College in Fremont Feb. 9 at 7 p.m.
Even though the Rams lead the Coast Conference, they are always looking for improvement. LaBagh said he will address conditioning.
“We are not in shape,” Labagh said. “We are playing a lot of guys and we need to get in better shape to be able to keep the pressure up.”