By JohnTaylor Wildfeuer
After a standout season with just one loss the Rams Men’s Basketball team scored a championship victory over West Valley, adding a state title to 12 postseason awards and ending on a 28 game win-streak.
The Rams completed their near-perfect season with a decisive 25-point lead, defeating West Valley, the only team to beat them this season, with a final score of 91-66.
While the West Valley Vikings were able to secure an early lead with Rams unable to score for the first three minutes of the game, they swiftly lost their advantage and were unable to regain it despite two Rams starters benched for committing fouls.
Overall, the final game was highly climactic, with five technical fouls and flagrant fouls, a commanding performance by players off the bench, and a near comeback for the Vikings in the final minutes.
The Rams decisive performance closed with 47 percent (16 of 34) shot accuracy from the floor, 46 percent (6 or 13) from the three-point line, and 100 percent (10-10) success with free-throws.
This is Coach Justin Labagh’s fourth state title in eighteen years with City College, a record he shares with Hall-of-Fame coach Jerry Tarkanian of Riverside and Pasadena City Colleges. “It is nice to be in the same sentence with his name,” he said in an interview with BAOSN.tv.
Contrasting the season with that of before the advent of COVID-19, Labagh said, “Two years ago, we had our best team we ever had at City,” adding, “we were 30-0 and beating everybody by 40 points.”
When it came time to compete in the championship that year, however, the team found themselves waiting in their vans, having been told that the tournament had been canceled due to health and safety concerns.
Labagh said, “To come back here and win it is unbelievable.”
Forward Seyi Reiley, started the championship game and took home the award for Defensive Player of the Year. “I was so juiced after that game against West Valley,” Reiley said, adding, “They were the only team to beat us this year and they celebrated hard on our home court so we had to beat the breaks off of them in the championship game.”
The turnabout was meaningful to the team, and Reiley said, “The fact that they had disrespected us like that made the state championship win so much sweeter.”
The team, which Reilley said started their workouts one year ago in March 2021, closed out their near-perfect season with a dramatic rivalry win fit for a feature film.
Their postseason awards, which include Coach of the Year for Labagh, Co-Players of the Year for Naseem Gaskin and Seyi Reiley, and All-Freshmen Team for Emmett Neal and Jamir Thomas, add titles to trophies as the conquering team looks to future victories.
“There is no feeling better,” Reiley concluded, “than having all of the work that you put in result in a huge win like this one.”