Men’s basketball drops final game of the regular season at Long Beach City College

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TM Carlos Ruiz

No. 21 Jonathan Guzman attempts a close shot. Guzman lead the team with 20 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Jah-Tosh Baruti

Falcons men’s basketball loses a back and forth game at Long Beach City College, 75-69 in the regular season finale.

Cerritos College men’s basketball team had been on fire, winning 10 straight games–while also keeping its conference record squeaky clean at 9-0.

The team finished off the regular season with a 24-5 record overall..

Although, the team did not go undefeated, the Falcons still were crowned division champs for going 9-1 in the South Coast Conference.

“We didn’t have a perfect season,” No. 21 Jonathan Guzman said, “but not even the Golden State Warriors went 82-0, we’re going to be good, I think that we still have a great chance at winning the state championship.”

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No. 21 Guzman drives hard to the basket. Guzman ended the regular season with averages of nine points, six rebounds and two assists—on 64.5 percent from the field. Photo credit: Carlos Ruiz

No. 20 sophomore Jason Carter said, “Yeah, I think we talked about it [going undefeated] too much in my opinion, because we didn’t really compete this game…in the second half, we competed, but not the way we were supposed to.”

“—now it’s just about winning a state championship,” Carter said.

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No. 20 Jason Carter dribbles the ball past a Long Beach City College defender. Carter averaged nine points, five rebounds and two assists—while going 48 percent FG, for the regular season. Photo credit: Carlos Ruiz

No. 1 Demetrius Thomas said, “I really wanted to go undefeated, but we’re going to take this and move on and try to get through these playoffs—try to make it to Ventura for state [championship], that’s our goal right now.”

Long Beach City College got its revenge at its house after Cerritos College won the last match at home on Jan. 31, winning by four points, 87-83. As both teams managed to protect its home court.

“…we’re the better team—they know that, we know that, so we just going to see what happens in playoffs,“ Carter stated assuredly.

He continued, “They wanted this game, they didn’t really do nothing this year—everybody going to compete against us, we’re won of the best teams in Cali, so we’re trying to win state to prove [it]…”

Thomas said, “We beat them here and it was kind of a close game, so they were like now they’re coming back to our house, so we got to step up and play ball and that’s exactly what they did.”

The players and coaching staff agreed that LBCC “wanted it more.” However, they couldn’t come to a consensus of why, because Cerritos had a major opportunity coming in—with the chance to go undefeated in conference.

“They were a little more hungry than we were, they came out really aggressive on offense and defense and I feel like they probably just wanted it a little more than we did,” Thomas said.

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No. 1 Demetrius Thomas attempts a shot over an LBCC defender. Thomas lead the team in scoring during the regular season with about 17 points per contest, while pulling down a team high eight rebounds. Photo credit: Carlos Ruiz

Thomas summed up the loss as a reality check to get the team back focused because they were in “cruise mode.”

The Falcons had one of its worst shooting nights of the season, 39 percent from the field, 33 percent from three and 65 percent from the free throw line.

Head coach Russ May talked about the team’s performance, “We just didn’t make the shots when we had to or get the defensive stops when we had to and give them credit, they outplayed us tonight.”

Crucial free throws contributed to the loss, the team went 17-26. However, the missses late in the game really cost the squad.

In the last five minutes when the game was tied at 59, the Falcons went 4-8 from the charity stripe.

If they make those four other free throws, it would have definitely changed the dynamics of a close ball game…the Falcons most likely add undefeated to its 2017-18 regular season resume.

However, the players expressed how bad they want to win a state championship to cap off a remarkable regular season, so they’ll have another chance to go undefeated, because in the playoffs it’s “win or go home.”

The Falcons were also out rebounded, as Cerritos was edged on the glass, 38-31.

No. 14 Keshaun Mack talked about the team’s rebounding struggles, “They wanted it more then we did at the end, we rarely lose the rebounding battle, but we lost by I think 7 or 8.”

Mack says he always gets up for games against Long Beach City College because he went to Long Beach Jordan. According to Mack, he even knew a large percent of the crowd in Long Beach.

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No. 14 Keshaun Mack completes a vicious two-hand slam. Mack was second on the team in scoring for the regular season at 12 points per game on solid shooting percentages of 48 percent FG and 40 percent from three. Photo credit: Carlos Ruiz

He also talked about why he chose Cerritos College over LBCC, he said, “Cerritos has better opportunities to play at the next level.. I heard coach May was one of the best coaches at getting players out.”

Thomas explained what it would have meant to him to go undefeated in conference, he said, “It would’ve felt amazing, going undefeated in anything it’s a great feeling, but you know streaks do end after a while, people’s luck run out.” [sic]

The Falcons now change its focus to the playoffs, as the team said they hope to be the last standing in Ventura, CA, where the championship round will be held.

The team was awarded a first round bye, so they will automatically advance to the second round of the playoffs.

Cerritos College men’s basketball team will play Riverside College at home on Feb. 23 to start its 2018 Southern California Regional playoff campaign.