The City College of San Francisco men’s basketball team is the CCCAA’s state champions again. Playing in Ventura on Sunday afternoon, the Rams (33-1) beat City College of San Diego (33-3) 82-72.
It is CCSF’s third title since 2011 and the win avenges the 79-77 Final Four loss last year to the Falcons for the Rams.
“We were up 18 last year and lost it, and it haunted us,” sophomore guard Eddie Stansberry said. “We knew we needed to get here and get revenge.”
The Rams trailed 39-38 at halftime, but once the second half began they established control of the game. City College scored the first nine points, and never relinquished the lead after that.
“We made a couple adjustments at halftime,” head coach Justin Labagh said. “We knew if we kept going inside, they would collapse their defense, and then we would be able to kick the ball out for open shots.”
Unlike their previous two games, the Rams decided to not run their standard full-court press. The decision by Labagh paid off, as CCSF played its best defense of the weekend.
“We felt like they couldn’t shoot, so we decided to pack it in,” Labagh said.
On offense, Stansberry led the team in scoring with 21 points. He grabbed eight rebounds. Stansberry had an excellent game shooting, hitting 6-for-10 shots from the field, including 4-for-6 from three.
“I was just dialed in today,” Stansberry said.
The versatile Michael Wright stepped up, scoring 19 points, with 13 of them in the second half. A tall, strong guard who has excellent ball handles, the sophomore was able to overpower defenders when driving to the basket.
“Michael was just relentless,” Labagh said. “He has the highest basketball IQ of anybody on the court. He is always making defensive adjustments, it’s like having a coach on the court.”
The Falcons had a talented roster, but got into foul trouble early. Star player Robert McCoy only played 22 minutes, but scored 19 points.
Lewis Hayes continued his monster weekend for CCSF, scoring 17 points (6-for-10), hauling in 12 rebounds, 5 of them offensive, and blocking 3 shots in only 18 minutes. Hayes was named the MVP of the tournament. The sophomore forward has scored 59 points in only 56 minutes the past three games.
“He just plays downhill,” Labagh said. “Lewis always gets right to the basket and has great footwork. He is a matchup nightmare.”
Terrell Brown, the NorCal player of the year, only had 10 points but played tough defense.
The Rams have won 29-straight games. It is Labagh’s third CCCAA title. Only two players on the team were freshman, guard Niamey Harris and forward Austin Harris, so the Rams will have many new faces next season.
“It is always tough to repeat, but it is our third time in 15 years,” Labagh said. “We have our guys graduating and getting scholarships, so players want to come here. If you are going to JUCO route this is the place to go.”