Rams cruise to win over Merritt after slow start

City College’s Bennie Rhodes goes up for two points in City College’s game against Merritt College. The Rams would go onto win the match 81-64. ANNE-MARIE STARK / GUARDSMAN

By Bontã Hill

Due to some players missing practice, City Colleges men’s basketball team started the game with a different lineup. The result was a slow start, prompting Rams Head Coach Justin Labagh to call a quick time-out.

Whatever was said, worked. The Rams came out of the time-out and quickly went on a 19-4 run that set the tone for a 81-64 rout over Merritt College.

“We disciplined a couple guys for missing practice,” Labagh said. “We didn’t start our normal guys.”

Bennie Rhodes and Da’Ron Sims set the pace for the Rams’ offense, helping them into halftime with an 18-point lead, leaving Merritt in a daze. The Rams kept offensive rebounds from Merritt, allowing Rams to do what they like to do most: Get up and down the court.
“Early on, our defensive rebounding was suspect, but we made some minor adjustments,” Labagh said.

For the second game in a row, the Rams let up in the second half after gaining a big lead. The Rams got a little sloppy in the second half, eventually allowing Merrit to lead, cutting a 20-point deficit to 11, with a little more than six minutes left in the game.

“We’ve got to make it a priority to finish,” said Labagh. “It was a good win, but we got to play for the entire 40 minutes.”

Sims took it positively, knowing the season is still young. “It was a good learning experience, and in the long run it’s going to help us,” said Sims.

Despite having a brutal schedule, the Rams, ranked sixth in the state, moved their record up to 7-2 for the season.