Rams advance, Gain early lead against San Jose City Jaguars
By Zack Tobita
In the first playoff game of the season, the Rams (12-0, 29-0 Coast-North) continued their season’s historic win streak, running away with a 92-52 victory against San Jose (8-4, 20-9 Coast-South) in a first round playoff elimination game.
City College’s sophomore guard Delon Wright, who led the Rams in scoring with 19 points, intercepted a pass on the Jaguars’ first possession of the game, and that summed up the story of the game.
The Rams would never look back.
With the game getting out of hand early, Jaguars head coach Percy Carr called three of his six timeouts within the first five minutes of the game.
Carr, who’s in his 37th year with the Jaguars came into the game with 808 career wins under his belt, which makes him the winningest coach in California Community College history.
“City College is the best team in the state,” Carr said. “They’re big and strong at every position, if they continue to play like this, I’m 99 percent sure they will win the whole thing.”
City College head coach Justin Labagh may have 27 years less coaching experience than Carr, but he knows if you’re going into the playoffs at 28-0, you must be doing something right.
“We prepared the same way as we have all year, it’s like, why change anything now?” Labagh said.
The Rams made great plays all night, but what may have been the play of the game came with 6:40 left in the first half when Wright lobbed up an alley-oop for sophomore guard Shawn Smith who finished it with authority.
After a 44-25 halftime lead, City College was in complete control the entire second half.
The Rams got it going from downtown in the second half with a barrage of threes from Wright and freshman guards, Quincy Smith and Bryan Mcgriff.
Wright and McGriff both sustained injuries early in the game. Wright injured his hand and McGriff his ankle, although both injuries appeared mild.
For the second consecutive year, Wright was awarded North-Coast Conference Player of the Year for his outstanding overall play.
Smith, freshman guard and sixth man Dulani Robinson and sophomore center Gabriel Aguirre joined Wright as first-team all-conference players.
“Well they deserve it, it’s not over one or two games, that’s a 12-game conference. I don’t get to vote for them, they were voted on by other coaches, so I think it’s great,” Labagh said.
“It feels good to be recognized as one of the top players in the league … but we expect to win,” Smith said.
A humble Wright agreed with Smith.
“We’re comfortable with where we’re at, and hopefully we just win,” Wright said.
At every level of basketball, play slows down in the playoffs.
Winning in the dominant fashion that City College has, one can’t help but wonder what will happen if a Rams opponent manages to keep the score tight.
“We’ve been practicing close games. We’ll do things like playing down with three minutes left to combat ourselves for when we do get into a close game,” Labagh said.
Three games away from potentially raising their second championship banner in three years.
The No. 1 seed Rams will host No. 9 seed Lassen College in the second round of the playoffs on March 6 at 7 p.m.