Rams Charge Into State Playoffs After Winning Coast-North Conference
By Seamus Geoghegan
The Men’s Basketball team finished their regular season strong with wins against Chabot and Los Positas, securing the side their 11th conference championship.
City College did so while only losing a single regular-season match to West Valley early into their campaign. The Vikings came back against the Rams after they had been up by ten points at the half, winning the game by a mere 3 points.
Rams v Chabot
The Rams went into their Feb. 16th game versus Chabot with confidence, having beaten them by 23 points in the month prior.
The game started with both teams keeping the game fairly even, with City College having a slight advantage from the tip-off.
“That’s kind of how we start a little bit every now and then. We just kind of held the ball wasn’t a lot of movement,” said Naseem Gaskin, a guard on the City team. “And then when we realized that, we also didn’t get a lot of stops, to begin with. And we’re hitting a lot of tough shots, so that was pretty difficult. It just took us a little bit of time.”
City maintained their advantage through the first half and more, pulling ahead from Chabot while even pinning them back to their own half at times.
“We have a bunch of skilled players on our team, a lot of talented guys,” said Devan Sapp, another guard on the Rams’ roster. “I think that, plus the hours of practice and dedicated work that we put in, allowed us to really have the confidence to just pull ahead like we did.”
Gaskin lead the scoring for the match, putting up 25 points on the night. “You know, I just come into every game, just ready to give it my all. Playing hard, playing the right way, playing defense,” said Gaskin.
Both teams were incredibly physical throughout the entirety of the game, with 10 fouls awarded to each side in just the first half.
The game ended 117-72 and was the second-highest scoring game for the Rams’ whole regular season, one-upped by their 129-42 performance versus Cañada college.
Rams v Los Positas
The side only had a day buffer to prepare ahead of their game at Los Positas on Feb. 18. The game was massively important, as losing it meant sharing the conference title with Los Positas.
“They are the number two team in the league, they have a lot of talented guys on their team,” said Sapp. “At the end of the day, I think we were more ready and more prepared for that game and I feel like that helped us.”
Similar to their game versus Chabot, the Rams got off to a slow start. The Hawks took full advantage of that, taking a solid lead early on.
“From the tip, they easily got the momentum,” said Mezziah Oakman, a center for City. “That was caused by us not fronting the post, or not rotating over.”
Due to mistakes like not fronting the post player– guarding the player by the hoop– City had to work to catch up. This was a task the rams were able to manage, bringing back the game and trailing by just 2 points at the end of the first half.
“We all have pretty much set roles,” said Sapp. “As long as we do those roles to the best of our abilities, we’re talented enough to put up good numbers.”
The side continued to come up to speed, toppling Chabot and finishing the game 96-83, securing City a lone top spot in the Coast-North conference.
City College had what appeared to be a run at the State Championship during their 2019-2020 season, but had their effort shut down due to COVID-19. Now the side looks to continue it with boundless confidence.
“I think the only team that can beat us is ourselves,” said Gaskin. “If we go out there and play hard and you know, play the right way, listen to our coaches and the scheme that we have for each game, I think we’ll be alright.”
Gaskin and the team all share that same sentiment. “When we lose a game, we don’t lose to another team, we pretty much lose to ourselves,” said Oakman. “We beat ourselves.”
The team all trusts both each other and the coaches, going game by game placing their full belief in the gameplan. “There’s a mutual respect level there that coaches and players need to have for one another,” said Oakman. “It’s just really a discipline thing.”
Placing first seed, the team has a larger break than others before their first playoff game. The team will play a winner of one of the first-round matches on Thursday, Mar. 3.