Malcolm Johnson of City College of San Francisco drives past two Cañada College defenders in a game on Feb. 6, 2019, at City College of San Francisco (Eric Sun / Special to S.F. Examiner)

CCSF Basketball: Johnson and Rams hustle their way to 90-72 win

The City College of San Francisco men’s basketball overcame Cañada College on Wednesday night to win 90-72, their ninth victory in a row, thanks to the efforts of sophomore wing Malcolm Johnson.

Johnson led the Rams with 24 points, including 19 in the first half. Johnson poured in 12 of those points in the first ten minutes of the game, and was instrumental in giving his team the early lead, which they never relinquished.

“I didn’t run one play to him all game and he gets 24 points,” head coach Justin Labagh said. “He is a monster, one of our best players, and that is what our best players do.”

Johnson fought hard in the paint on both ends, and used his strength to out-position opposing defenders. Not afraid of contact, Johnson battled his way through defenders for tough baskets. On defense Johnson was equally effective, ending up with three steals and two blocks.

“The ball was just rolling off the rim to me I guess,” Johnson said. “I was just playing hard and the ball kept happening to come to me. On defense I was just feeling the flow of the game, and I just knew what they were going to do next.”

Thanks to Johnson’s 19 points, the Rams enjoyed a 48-38 halftime lead, but things got dicey to start the second half. Cañada narrowed the Ram’s lead to four, with the score at 52-48, but back-to-back threes from the left corner by Dale Currie increased their lead to 10, and CCSF would keep a healthy distance for the rest of the game.

“My shot with off tonight, but those fell in, which felt good since it was close then.” Currie said.

Currie finished third on the team with 13 points, while star sophomore guard Deschon Winston adding 14 points, including making 7-of-8 shots from the free throw line.

Free throw shooting was crucial for the Rams in the second half. After struggling to make those shots during their 76-59 win over Ohlone College on Jan. 30, City College shot 19-for-22 from the charity stripe in the second half.

“Every day after practice we take 50 free throws, so we keep putting up the shots in practice, and that is what made us better,” Currie said.

The second half got chippy at points, with both teams getting called for hard fouls, but to the dismay of Colts fans, the Rams were the beneficiaries of the majority of the calls.

Despite the 90-72 win, Labagh had criticisms for his players after the game.

“It was just OK, I thought we could have played better. We came kind of unplugged during the course of the game,” Labagh said. “I kind of expected a little more, we made a lot of bad mistakes.”

One type of mistake that his team made multiple times especially irked Labagh: forcing too many risky full-court passes instead of slowly bringing the ball up.

“We take too many home run passes, it’s got a 50-50 chance to get to the guy. We don’t need to take those passes,” Labagh said.

Players were not too worried about the missed passes, noting that they typically hit them.

“I mean, it’s kind of with the game. If we see somebody open far down there, we are going to throw it to them,” Currie said. “We have confidence in our guys, we feel like they going to get the ball every time we throw.”

Shooting from three was one other area where the Rams struggled, going 6-of-23.

“We need to put more shots in practice,” Currie said.

With the win, City College improves to 24-1 on the season, losing their only game 77-73 vs. Cabrillo back on Dec. 16 of last year. The Rams have four games left during the regular season before the playoffs, where they hope to win back-to-back state titles.

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