Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Falcons make it to Final Four with win against Yuba College—losing a starter to injury

Jah-Tosh Baruti
Demetrius Thomas (No. 1) gets a dunk in the Falcons’ very first possession. Thomas had 20 points and 12 rebounds in the game.

The Cerritos College men’s basketball team advance to the top four Community College’s in the state—with an 83-77 win over Yuba College in the CCCAA State Tournament Elite Eight on Friday.

However, one of the biggest storylines of the game happened with about four minutes remaining in the second half, with the Falcons leading by only one basket—Jason Carter (No. 21) sprained his ankle and had to be helped off the court by trainers—he did not return in the game.

After the game Carter described how the injury happened, he said he “stepped on one of the [Yuba College] guard’s foot.”

Carter IMG_3963.JPG
Jason Carter (No. 20) floats in a shot in the CCCAA State Tournament – Quarterfinals. Carter had eight points and three rebounds in the game. Photo credit: Jah-Tosh Baruti

Carter started the game in which he produced eight points and three rebounds, while shooting 4-8 from the field in only 17 minutes of action.

“Jason [Carter] right now is getting treatment and he’s doing the best he can, it’s not looking great right now, but we’ll see in the morning,” Coach Russ May said.

“He’s a big part of what we do and hopefully we get him back soon.”

May said that with Carter out, more than likely No. 21 Jonathan Guzman will get the start in his place.

Guzman IMG_3986.JPG
No. 21 Jonathan Guzman barrels into his opponent for the score. Guzman had 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Photo credit: Jah-Tosh Baruti

Guzman spoke about his role with Carter likely out, “Honestly, I think my role will stay the same, but I’ll just be starting—I’ve had good games as a starter—[whether I’m] coming off the bench regardless I’m going to produce, but I know I have some shoes to fill, especially with Jason [Carter] going down.”

He said, “I’m going to try my best and leave it all out on the floor.”

Guzman came off the bench for 11 points and eight boards.

The team shot about 50 percent FG, exactly 40 percent on threes on 15 attempts and a poor 9-17 (53 percent) from the charity stripe.

Head coach Russ May talked about the win, “Well I don’t think we played our best, but we battled through some tough moments and we beat a very tough physical team with some talented players.”

May talked about being in the tournament, he said, “It’s an honor to be back, we’re happy to represent the South—it’s good to see Cerritos back in it…Hopefully we can bring a lot of good moments to Cerritos College and play well tomorrow.”

The Falcons were able to snap Yuba College’s 16 game winning streak, as they came out the gates going 7-0.

The Yuba College 49er’s connected on 10 treys as a team in the game. However, Cerritos College were able to combat that by maintaining a steady lead, with a high of 11, the closest the 49er’s got was within one point and that was six minutes into the second half.

There were no ties or lead changes in this game. Although, it was a three point game, the Falcons led with 39 seconds remaining in the contest.

Forward Demetrius Thomas, No. 1 said, “Players stepped up and knocked down some shots that we needed, got some defensive stops and we needed those because Yuba [College] was sticking around—I’ll give it to them they’re a good team.”

He concluded his thoughts on how the team managed to get the win saying, “We just stuck to the game plan and came out with the victory.”

Meech IMG_3721.JPG
No. 1 Demetrius Thomas glides high for the fast break layup. Thomas had a team-high 20 points in the game versus Yuba College. Photo credit: Jah-Tosh Baruti

Thomas led his team with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

He talked about his individual performance, he said, “I feel pretty good about it—we came out aggressive in the first half, I think we were up like 7-0 [to start], so I feel like we were trying to build up the biggest lead that we could get…I had a good performance today, overall.”

It was a high energy showcasing for the Falcons—with the Falcons clinging to a four point lead with under two minutes, No. 14 Keshaun Mack climbed the ladder as he caught a lob and flushed it down with two hands, off of a pass from No. 12 Christian Alvis in a play that electrified the packed crowd late in the game.

Keshaun Mack (No. 14) finishes a lob from guard Christian Alvis Photo credit: Jah-Tosh Baruti

“I knew that would be a energy boost for us late in game,” Mack said of the lob and the jam in a close game.

Mack finished with 13 points, in 22 minutes.

“First half I picked up those two quick fouls—second half I finished pretty strong, made some clutch plays for us,” Mack said of his performance.

Although, the Falcons never relinquished its lead—the team still relied on Freshman Alvis to seal the win with two made free throws.

Thomas talked about advancing, he said, “It feels excellent, I think the last time [we] got a state [championship] was like 1999, so we’re trying to bring [2017-18], but it definitely feels good to be in the Final Four, we’re all humble.”

He also shared what motivates the team, he said, “We’re trying to get it done for Coach Free[man], one of our coach’s—that passed, so you know we’re just trying to do it for him and do it for us too at the same time.”

The Falcons will face the No. 1 team in the state, the City College of San Francisco on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Ventura, CA where the CCCAA State Tournament is taking place.

Guzman talked about the team’s next opponent saying, “They’re a good team, they’re not No. 1 in the state for no reason, so they’re going to put up a huge fight and it’s going to be a battle—whoever wants it more is going to win—and I think we want it more”

Cerritos College men’s basketball will be going to the CCCAA Final Four for the first time in May’s tenure.

Assistant coach Jordan Littlejohn said, “Wow man, you know it’s exciting to me because I never experienced it—a few years ago we were heading towards the Final Four and we lost, so we’re all excited to be here.”

Mack also spoke about advancing to the Final Four, “It feels like a dream, but I’m ready to play, I’m trying to get a championship. I’ve never even been this far in high school—so I feel like we have a pretty good chance to win it.”

When asked if San Francisco City College was the team that they wanted, Mack replied, “Nah, I want San Diego City, but San Francisco City is in the way, so I want them too.”

Guzman finished with saying, “We didn’t come all this way to lose—we’re coming for that ring.”

The City College of San Francisco—have a 27 game winning streak heading into the match as the team holds an overall record of 31-1.

Cerritos College has an overall record of 27-5, as the team is on a three game winning streak.

Although, the Falcons are looking to extend that win streak to five come Sunday, as Team Captain guard Malik Smith (No. 2) stated at a banquet on Thursday for all eight teams that made the tournament—“It’s a lot of good teams in here I just wanted to let y’all know that we’re coming to win the ship, it’s going to be tough to beat us,” Smith said.

Keshaun Mack, No. 14 flexes after his mammoth dunk off the lob late in a close game. Mack had several highlight worthy dunks throughout the match. Photo credit: Jah-Tosh Baruti

Click this link for live tweets of this game: https://twitter.com/talonmarksports/status/972246022565933056

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About the Contributor
Jah-Tosh Baruti
Jah-Tosh Baruti, Staff Writer
Jah-Tosh Baruti is author of the sports column titled Shmackem. Previously he was sports editor for Talon Marks. Baruti also took home an award for his sports writing at the Journalism Association of Community Colleges’ state conference in 2018.
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Falcons make it to Final Four with win against Yuba College—losing a starter to injury