The City College of San Francisco men’s basketball team handled Cabrillo College Saturday night, winning its playoff game 77-60. The Rams now advance to the CCCAA State Finals in Ventura, played March 8-11.
“I was excited, I thought our guys came to play,” head coach Justin Labagh said. “We wanted to control the tempo and we did.”
The Rams applied their full court press, and it stifled the Cabrillo offense. The No. 9 Seahawks couldn’t find an offensive rhythm and struggled by making costly turnovers, and were physically outmatched against the No. 1 Rams.
“We love playing up,” said Terrell Brown. “When we play up, it’s straight turnovers all game. If we defend, we are going to win the game.”
Brown was magnificent on offense, leading the Rams in scoring with 19 points, making five threes.
“He is the best player in the state,” Labagh said. “And those types of players usually show up in big games.”
Despite being with each other at CCSF for just two years at the most, these Rams have great chemistry.
“With us it’s like playing AAU basketball all over again, it’s fun,” Michael Wright said.
The Rams have now won 26 straight games, and have a 30-1 record with their last loss coming in November. The mostly sophomore group hopes to win it all, unlike last year when they fell in the semi-finals.
“We got all the pieces we need. Everybody is clicking and paying attention. There ain’t too much else to it,” Wright said.
For Labagh the win was a culmination of where they planned to be at the end of the season.
“We just wanted to put ourselves to be in position to be in position, and we’ve done that,” he said.
It was too little, too late for the No. 4 Rams as they lost 63-58 in their third round game against No. 5 Merced College in the CCCAA women’s basketball playoffs on Saturday night.
“They just outplayed us tonight,” head coach Derek Lau said. “They were playing faster than us, and they were ready. We missed shots that we usually don’t miss. Merced played their game well today.”
The Rams got off to a tepid pace, and by the end of the first quarter they were down 24-12 and had yet to hit a three-pointer, usually the cornerstone of their offense. In the second quarter the Rams finally connected from deep, but still trailed 34-30 at halftime.
It wasn’t just the deep shots the Rams were missing, they also struggled with scoring in the paint and making layups on drives.
“It had a huge effect,” Lau said. “When we missed layups, they were going the other way, and that’s huge since not everyone is ready after a missed layup to play defense. We couldn’t get over the hump missing layups and three throws. You don’t win playoff games doing that.”
Caprice Taylor led the Rams in scoring with 22 points. Taylor said that the team made costly mistakes.
“We could have eliminated our turnovers,” Taylor said. “We went above what our goal was. We had like 20 total turnovers, and we were supposed to only have 12 this game. I think we fought hard the whole game though, they just came out stronger than us and wanted it more.”
Despite failing to advance to the CCCAA state finals, it was still a successful season as the Rams finished the year with a 25-4 record that included Lau’s 100th career victory. The Rams will lose star player Taylor, but will return star freshmans guard Anissah Dowery and forward Zakiya Willis.