Falcons soar into postseason defeat

Max Perez

The men’s basketball team’s season ended with a 79-67 defeat coming at the hands of Citrus College.

The loss officially marked the end of the Falcons’ season as well as the second straight season the team would be eliminated in the second round of the Southern California Regional playoffs.

Cerritos was unable to obtain control of the game as they never led throughout the contest.

Citrus jumped out to a 10-2 lead early and despite the Falcons’ best efforts they were not able to gain momentum.

The team came within three points in the first half, but that’s the closest the Falcons would come to Citrus the entire game as the opposition ran away with the game in the second half.

Despite the loss head coach Russ May said, “The team has nothing to be ashamed of, [the men] played their asses off, and tonight we lost to a very good team.”

Although the Falcons committed only eight turnovers to Citrus’ 13, they were unable to overcome a tough shooting night, finishing 34 percent from the field and 25 percent from the three-point line.

Despite the early exit, Cerritos players and coaches were proud of what the team was able to accomplish this season.

The team finished with an overall 21-7 record and won three of the four tournaments it participated in this season.

Cerritos players were also recognized for their individual talent.

Sophomore guard Tyler Payne, Brian Nebo and forward Cristian Perez were all awarded First Team All-South Coast Conference South Division.

Not only was the team able to finish second in the South-Coast Conference, but it was able to do so facing tough odds after starting 0-3.

Perez said, “It was tough, during those three losses we were questioning ourselves and our ability, but we knew once we got that first win everything would fix itself.”

After the first win the team did indeed begin to fix itself and found ways to win.

It also displayed an ability to adjust, as the Falcons successfully defeated every team that beat them earlier in conference play.

The Falcons had four players finish the season averaging double digits in scoring and as a team averaged 46 percent shooting from the field and 34 percent from the three-point line.

Away from the court every member of the team found this year’s team to be special.

May said, “We have a special group of guys that came to practice every day, worked together and got better, I am honored to [have] coached them.”

Sophomore guard Tyler Payne who has spent four years in this program and said, “They’re the closest group of guys I’ve been with […] I just want to grieve with them a little bit, cherish all the moments and reminisce.”

Both Payne and Perez represent sophomore players who will no longer be eligible to play for the Falcons, making the game against Citrus their last in a Cerritos jersey.

Although they are leaving the program, May made it clear that he believes the example that the sophomores set for the freshman put in place a solid foundation for next season.

Freshman players Riley Hamilton, Malik Smith, Devan Burrell and Jonathan Guzman will be the sophomores next season leading the team.

Payne said, “The sky is the limit for those guys, they have so much talent and athleticism it’s going to be fun to watch.”

The echoing message from players and coaches was the cohesiveness of this team and how tight it became throughout the season.

Perez said, “I’ve been playing basketball my whole life, I’ve never cared about a season, a team, or a coaching staff as much as this one.”

May agrees with his player and will remember how close the team was.

“It really is a family in how much [the men] cared for each other […] that’s what it’s all about,” he concluded.