David could not beat Goliath Friday night. The No. 1 City College men’s basketball team (31-1) trailed No. 4 Allan Hancock College (23-9) early, but were able to regain the lead midway through the first half and held on to it to win 86-63 and will advance to play Cerritos College in the CCCAA Final Four on Saturday.
The Bulldogs started hot. All-State guard Shane Carney was a nightmare to guard for the Rams. The sophomore split through the Ram’s full-court press to start the game, and was superb from beyond the three. Carney, who had a game high 23 points, helped give Allan Hancock an early 22-17 lead.
“We knew going in they could be dangerous, and they started out 4-for-4 from three,” head coach Justin Labagh said. “But after the timeout the press began working. I told them to keep talking, not leave themselves on an island, and eventually they will crack.”
Ten minutes into the first half, the Rams began to rally. Eddie Stansberry hit a three to tie the game at 24-24, and after that CCSF never relinquished the lead. Stansberry was the catalyst for the offense in the first half, when he scored 15 of his 17 points, including making 4-for-6 3-pointers. The Rams led 44-36 at halftime.
“I was feeding off the team,” Stansberry said.
The Rams were in complete control in the second half and played excellent team defense while committing just three turnovers on offense.
“At halftime I let them talk, and say what they see,” Labagh said. “I just told them no home run passes, continue keeping the turnovers down, and dominate the boards.”
Star sophomore guard Terrell Brown, who earlier in the day was nominated for CCCAA Player of the Year, scored 13 of his team-high 22 points in the second half. Brown had a busy stat sheet, grabbing 9 rebounds, including 2 offensive rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and was 12-12 from the line.
“I felt I could have played better defense,” Brown said. “But I liked how we played as a team.”
Sophomore forward Lewis Hayes had a big night off the bench, scoring 15 points on 7-11 shooting in 21 minutes. Guard Niamey Harris, one of the only two freshman on the squad, scored 7 points with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal that led to a monster dunk in the first half.
After the game, the players were excited to be advancing to the Final Four but made sure to retain their focus on winning it all.
“We are super excited,” Stansberry said. “We came down here expecting to play on Sunday, but also not look forward too much. Take it one game at a time and treat it like a business trip.”
The Rams have now won 27 games in a row. They will play Cerritos College (27-5) tomorrow at 7 p.m. Fresno City College (28-4) will play San Diego City College (32-2) before at 5 p.m.