“It’s perfect,” Justin Labagh said.
And he’s mostly right.
In reaching the California Community College Athletic Association final four, not one playoff competitor has come remotely close to slaying City College of San Francisco men’s basketball team.
“They’re all peaking,” Rams coach Labagh said of his players after their 88-54 trouncing of Santa Rosa on Saturday. “Our last game was the best game we’ve played all year long. We’ve got two more.”
Two more wins are all that separate Labagh’s team and a second state title in three seasons. But if the Rams hope to claim said championship — which would be the school’s first as an unbeaten — they’ll have to weather another challengers’ best shot.
“We’re going to have to take care of the ball,” said Labagh, whose CCSF team will face high-scoring opponent SoCal opponent Chaffey College in the semifinals today from Cosumnes River College in Sacramento. “They’re probably going to press us for 40 minutes. So that’s something we haven’t seen since November.”
In November, they were pressed twice, both times by Fresno. And both time CCSF won.
But Fresno isn’t Chaffey, and in Chaffey resides a fast-breaking team that averages roughly 88 a game. San Francisco’s regular-season average was 85.
But this postseason, defense — or offense for that matter — hasn’t been an issue.
The Rams have mercilessly battered their three latest playoff foes in San Jose, Lassen and Santa Rosa, outscoring the vanquished trio by a total 108 points.
And while star guard Delon Wright had a breakout performance against Santa Rosa — 29 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks, five assists and five steals — he wasn’t the only one.
“Our top five is better than everybody’s top five, but we can’t play these guys for 40 minutes the way we play, because we pressure a lot,” Labagh said. “You need the bench to step up. And last game they played out of their minds.”
Among those players were Brazilian forward Gabriel Aguirre and guards Jamal Ford and Joe Slocum.
Yet while the Rams look to become only the fifth team to win the state title and finish undefeated, not all is perfect. CCSF is playing amidst an accreditation crisis that has threatened the school’s closing.
“I think it’s in the back of everybody’s mind here, but we’re not fearing that we’re going to comeback on Monday and the school is going to be closed,” Labagh said. “If we didn’t have this or if we didn’t have these sports, there’s going to be five guys who didn’t get a scholarship out of high school, who got a second chance here just on our team in this year, that are going to get full rides to prospective schools.”
This weekend, those guys will control what they can. And that’ll be on the court, and not on campus.
CCCAA state championships
All games at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento
- Mt. San Antonio College (27-3) vs. Merritt (18-12), 5 p.m.
- CCSF (31-0) vs. Chaffey (26-6), 7 p.m.
- Semifinal winners, 1 p.m.
CCCAA undefeated state champs
- 2006: Fullerton (37-0)
- 2005: Fresno (34-0)
- 1970: Compton (33-0)
- 1964: Riverside (35-0)