Sophomore guard Christian-Alvis Labadie drives the ball to the basket against a Santiago Canyon College defender in the Southern California Regional Final at Cerritos College on March 3, 2018. The 2018-19 Falcons team are 7-1 on the young season, as the team seeks a consecutive Final Four berth. Photo courtesy of Daryl Peterson/Cerritos Sports Information

Redeem team: Final Four or ‘failure’ for men’s basketball squad

December 5, 2018

Falcons men’s basketball aims to reach the Final Four in consecutive seasons after coming up just short of the title game last season.

The 2018-19 team improved to 7-1 on the season overall after winning the three-game Grossmont tournament last weekend.

With wins against Grossmont, Palomar and San Diego City College the Falcons’ locked up its second tournament championship this season.

MVP honors for the recent tournament were awarded to sophomore guard No. 5 Tawon Elston, while freshman guard No. 13 Chance Hunter made the All-Tournament team

The Falcons’ 7-1 start is the best start for the men’s team in over six seasons.

At the rate that this team is winning it’s inevitable to be compared to last season’s team which torched opponents on a nightly basis en route to a 27-6 record and a Final Four berth.

Sophomore guard No. 12 Christian Alvis-Labadie, says they are expected to make it back to the Final Four this season. “…everybody knows what’s at stake and everybody knows what we have to do.”

The team has state championship aspirations above just racking up regular season wins. “If we don’t get back to the Final Four it’s like a failure to us,” Alvis-Labadie said.

He added that the chemistry is great for the season to be so early.

The Falcons are led in points by Hunter, who’s averaging 14 points on 60 percent shooting from the field through the first eight games.

Hunter says he wants to lead the team is scoring, rebounds and take the Falcons to Ventura where the state championship game is held.

According to Hunter, the team has been progressing well and he expects for Cerritos to keep winning. “Just be ready for that [championship] banner to hang up,” Hunter said smiling.

Head coach Russ May said this team has progressed faster than expected. In comparison to last season’s group, he said, “This year’s team is equally talented, if not more talented as a whole.”

He continued, saying this current team is more responsible, noting that last year’s team had more dynamic and creative players, but this team is more disciplined on defense.

“I think we got potential to be really, really good down the stretch,” May said.

Due to a hiring freeze after the passing of beloved assistant coach Criss Freeman, the team’s coaching staff was left short-handed. The coaching vacancy was something that May eluded to last season.

This year Christmas came early for May as he was gifted with two new assistant coaches in Murphy Davis and Danny Lawton. May spoke of the new additions to the sideline, “They’ve been outstanding, they’re hard workers…”

Next up for the team is a game at Allan Hancock College. After that game Cerritos will participate in the College of the Sequoias Tournament on Dec. 14-16 for a shot at its third tourney title of the season.

The Falcons have their season home opener game versus East Los Angeles College on Dec. 21 at 6 p.m.

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