Rams win State Championship with 82-72 win over San Diego

By Patrick Cochran

pcochran@theguardsman.com

 

The City College’s men’s basketball team are California Community College Athletic Association State Champions again. The Rams (33-1) beat City College of San Diego (33-3) 82-72, in Ventura on March 11.

It’s City College’s third title since 2011, and the win avenges the Rams’ 79-77 Final Four loss last year to the Falcons.

“We were up 18 last year and lost it, and it haunted us,” Sophomore Guard Eddie Stansberry said. “We knew we needed to get here and get revenge.”

The Rams trailed 39-38 at halftime, but once the second half began, they established control of the game. City College scored the first nine-point and never relinquished the lead after that.

“We made a couple adjustments at halftime,” Head Coach Justin Labagh said. “We knew if we kept going inside, they would collapse their defense, and then we would be able to kick the ball out for open shots.”

Unlike their previous two games, the Rams decided not to run their standard full-court press. The decision by Labagh paid off, as City College played their best defense of the weekend.

“We felt like they couldn’t shoot, so we decided to pack it in,” Labagh said.

On offense, Stansberry led the team in scoring with 21 points. He grabbed eight rebounds. Stansberry had an excellent game shooting, hitting 6-for-10 shots from the field, including 4-for-6 from three.

“I was just dialed-in today,” Stansberry said.

The versatile Michael Wright stepped up, scoring 19 points, with 13 of them in the second half. A tall strong guard who has excellent ball handles, the sophomore was able to overpower defenders when driving to the basket.

Midway through the second half, Wright got the ball and blew through multiple defenders on his way to the basket. Wright finished off the play with a beautiful finger roll, the ball rolling right into the basket.

“Michael was just relentless,” Labagh said. “He has the highest basketball IQ of anybody on the court. He is always making defensive adjustments. It’s like having a coach on the court.”

The Falcons had a talented roster but got into foul trouble early. Star player Robert McCoy only played 22 minutes but scored 19 points.

Lewis Hayes continued his monster weekend for City College, scoring 17 points (6-for-10), hauling in 12 rebounds (5 of them offensive) and blocking 3 shots in only 18 minutes. Hayes was named the MVP of the tournament. The sophomore forward has scored 59 points in only 56 minutes the past three games.

“He just plays downhill,” Labagh said. “Lewis always gets right to the basket and has great footwork. He is a matchup nightmare.”

Terrell Brown, the NorCal player of the year, only had 10 points but played tough defense. All game Brown was keyed in on his matchup and was relentless going after the ball. During the Rams’ three tournament games, Brown hit 27 of 28 free throws.

In the first round, the Rams easily defeated Allan Hancock College 86-63. Their next opponent, Cerritos College, proved to be a much tougher challenge. Facing a very athletic Cerritos College, the Rams trailed 73-60 and had to claw back to win. Hayes had his best game of the tournament that night, scoring 25 points in 23 minutes, and led City College to a 89-83 win.

The Rams have won 29 straight games. It is Labagh’s third California Community College Athletic Association title. Only two players on the team were freshman guard Niamey Harris and forward Austin Harris, so the Rams will have many new faces next season.

“It is always tough to repeat, but it is our third time in 15 years,” Labagh said. “We have our guys graduating and getting scholarships, so players want to come here. If you are going to Junior College route this is the place to go.”

 

The Rams gather around CCCAA banner after winning 2018 State Title in Ventura, March 13, 2018. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.
The Rams gather around CCCAA banner after winning 2018 State Title in Ventura, March 13, 2018. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.

 

The Rams players sophomore forward Lewis Hayes (#34), left, sophomore guard Eddie Stansberry, center, and sophomore guard Terrell Brown show off their State Title plaques on March 13, 2018. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.
The Rams players sophomore forward Lewis Hayes (#34), left, sophomore guard Eddie Stansberry, center, and sophomore guard Terrell Brown show off their State Title plaques on March 13, 2018. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.

 

Freshman guard Dexter Hood (#32) elevates for the contested layup on March 13, 2018 during the CCCAA State Title game in Ventura. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.
Freshman guard Dexter Hood (#32) elevates for the contested layup on March 13, 2018 during the CCCAA State Title game in Ventura. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.

 

Sophomore forward Lewis Hayes (#34) is cheered on by teammates after receiving the CCCAA tournament MVP trophy.  Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.
Sophomore forward Lewis Hayes (#34) is cheered on by teammates after receiving the CCCAA tournament MVP trophy. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.

 

Sophomore guard Curtis Witt (#20) looks for an outlet pass under the basket. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.
Sophomore guard Curtis Witt (#20) looks for an outlet pass under the basket. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.

 

Coach Justin Labagh (left) accepts CCCAA State Title trophy from leagues president Steve Ball after beating San Diego City College in Ventura on March 13, 2018. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.
Coach Justin Labagh (left) accepts CCCAA State Title trophy from leagues president Steve Ball after beating San Diego City College in Ventura on March 13, 2018. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.

 

The Rams freshmen guard Niamey Harris (#3) goes up strong for the layup against two San Diego City College players in CCCAA State Title in Venutra on March 13, 2018. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.
The Rams freshmen guard Niamey Harris (#3) goes up strong for the layup against two San Diego City College players in CCCAA State Title in Venutra on March 13, 2018. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.

 

Sophomore guard Michael Wright (#55) drives in-between two San Diego City College players for the finger roll layup during the CCCAA State Title game in Ventura on March 13, 2018. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.
Sophomore guard Michael Wright (#55) drives in-between two San Diego City College players for the finger roll layup during the CCCAA State Title game in Ventura on March 13, 2018. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.

 

Assistant Coaches Tom McNichol (left to right), Adam D'Acquisto, Head Coach Justin Labagh (center), Nima Shaahinfar, and Ravi Bhambhra lock arms during CCCAA State Title game. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.
Assistant Coaches Tom McNichol (left to right), Adam D’Acquisto, Head Coach Justin Labagh (center), Nima Shaahinfar, and Ravi Bhambhra lock arms during CCCAA State Title game. Photo by Peter Wong/Special to The Guardsman.

 

After defeating San Diego City College, the Rams' sophomore guard Michael Wright (#55), forward Lewis Hayes (#34), freshman guard Niamey Harris (#3), sophomore Ben Borja (#24), and Head Coach Justin Labagh are hoisted for the ceremonial cutting of the net on March 13, 2018. Photos by Felix Cortez/Special to The Guardsman.
After defeating San Diego City College, the Rams’ sophomore guard Michael Wright (#55), forward Lewis Hayes (#34), freshman guard Niamey Harris (#3), sophomore Ben Borja (#24), and Head Coach Justin Labagh are hoisted for the ceremonial cutting of the net on March 13, 2018. Photos by Felix Cortez/Special to The Guardsman.

 

After defeating San Diego City College, the Rams' sophomore guard Michael Wright (#55), forward Lewis Hayes (#34), freshman guard Niamey Harris (#3), sophomore Ben Borja (#24), and Head Coach Justin Labagh are hoisted for the ceremonial cutting of the net on March 13, 2018. Photos by Felix Cortez/Special to The Guardsman.
After defeating San Diego City College, the Rams’ sophomore guard Michael Wright (#55), forward Lewis Hayes (#34), freshman guard Niamey Harris (#3), sophomore Ben Borja (#24), and Head Coach Justin Labagh are hoisted for the ceremonial cutting of the net on March 13, 2018. Photos by Felix Cortez/Special to The Guardsman.

 

After defeating San Diego City College, the Rams' sophomore guard Michael Wright (#55), forward Lewis Hayes (#34), freshman guard Niamey Harris (#3), sophomore Ben Borja (#24), and Head Coach Justin Labagh are hoisted for the ceremonial cutting of the net on March 13, 2018. Photos by Felix Cortez/Special to The Guardsman.
After defeating San Diego City College, the Rams’ sophomore guard Michael Wright (#55), forward Lewis Hayes (#34), freshman guard Niamey Harris (#3), sophomore Ben Borja (#24), and Head Coach Justin Labagh are hoisted for the ceremonial cutting of the net on March 13, 2018. Photos by Felix Cortez/Special to The Guardsman.

 

After defeating San Diego City College, the Rams' sophomore guard Michael Wright (#55), forward Lewis Hayes (#34), freshman guard Niamey Harris (#3), sophomore Ben Borja (#24), and Head Coach Justin Labagh are hoisted for the ceremonial cutting of the net on March 13, 2018. Photos by Felix Cortez/Special to The Guardsman.
After defeating San Diego City College, the Rams’ sophomore guard Michael Wright (#55), forward Lewis Hayes (#34), freshman guard Niamey Harris (#3), sophomore Ben Borja (#24), and Head Coach Justin Labagh are hoisted for the ceremonial cutting of the net on March 13, 2018. Photos by Felix Cortez/Special to The Guardsman.

 

After defeating San Diego City College, the Rams' sophomore guard Michael Wright (#55), forward Lewis Hayes (#34), freshman guard Niamey Harris (#3), sophomore Ben Borja (#24), and Head Coach Justin Labagh are hoisted for the ceremonial cutting of the net on March 13, 2018. Photos by Felix Cortez/Special to The Guardsman.
After defeating San Diego City College, the Rams’ sophomore guard Michael Wright (#55), forward Lewis Hayes (#34), freshman guard Niamey Harris (#3), sophomore Ben Borja (#24), and Head Coach Justin Labagh are hoisted for the ceremonial cutting of the net on March 13, 2018. Photos by Felix Cortez/Special to The Guardsman.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *