CITY COLLEGE — Dominating from the initial tip-off, the City College men’s basketball team cruised to an easy 93-58 victory over Skyline College Wednesday night at home. The Rams played effective ball on both offense and defense, and won their first conference game of the season.
“We moved the ball really well, we had 14 assist during the first half,” City College head coach Justin Labagh said. “I don’t know what we ended with, but we shared the ball pretty well. I thought our defense was really good in the first half. It is hard when you are up 20 at half to get them motivated, but these guys do a pretty good job of that.”
Even though the Rams were missing Cal transfer Austin McCullough due to a broken hand, the offense didn’t miss a beat.
“Austin is a good shooter, but we have a bunch of good players that can do other things, so we didn’t really fall off too much,” said sophomore combo-guard Deschon Winston, like McCullough, a former Golden Bear.
Winston led the way for the Rams, scoring a team-high 22 points. A skilled player with both quickness and length, Winston was able to blow past the Skyline defenders, who struggled to contain him all game.
“It was a good win for us. My teammates found me on offense, I was just cutting and they found me for easy layups,” Winston said. “On defense we played with great energy, we tried to match our first half effort in the second.”
Winston handled the ball most of the game, and dazzled the crowd with his ball handling skills, utilizing crossovers and spin moves on his way to the basket.
“Deschon came focused and ready to play, he is one of the best players in the state,” Labagh said.
Sophomore guard Niamey Harris, a Mission High School product, was second in scoring for the Rams. Harris put on a clinic in the first half, scoring 14 of his 18 points before the break.
With two minutes left before heading to the locker room, Harris got the ball in the left corner, and while taking a three was fouled hard but still managed to drain the shot while falling to the floor. Harris was unable to make the free throw afterwords, but made another big shot as time expired when he drilled another three to give the Rams a 54-29 halftime lead.
“It is frustrating when you don’t complete the and one but the game go on, next play,” Harris said. “We took good shots, made sure we didn’t take half shots, like forcing a shot, instead making sure we get the open shot and afterwords making sure we close up on offensive rebounds.”
Midway through the second half, Harris forced a steal and then bolted down the court and finished with a powerful one-handed jam. While he didn’t do much on offense in the second half, that dunk, plus his contributions on defense, helped keep the Rams out in front.
On defense, City College was able to use its superior length down low to make it difficult for Skyline to finish in the paint. The one Trojan that was able to cause problems for the Rams was freshman forward Rodney Lawrence, who scored 15 points and used his a variety of moves — including a skyhook — to score for Skyline in the paint.
The Rams did struggle in one area making their free throws. They finished the game 17-for-27 from the charity stripe, not a bad performance, but one that can certainly be improved upon.
“We need to work on our free throws, that is for sure,” Labagh said.
City College is now 16-1, and with the victory over Skyline moves 1-0 in conference play. The team will travel south to play Cañada College on Friday at 7 p.m. in a clash between two top teams.
“Cañada is a ranked opponent that we get to play Friday at their place,” Labagh said. “There are only a couple real deciding games in our league, and that is one of them, so we are going to be ready for that.”