M. Basketball: Lead in tourney finals slips away

File Photo: Riley Hamilton hit a last-second three-pointer to beat Antelope Valley at the Clete Adelman Classic
File Photo: Riley Hamilton hit a last-second three-pointer to beat Antelope Valley at the Clete Adelman Classic

Looking for their third tournament title of the season, the Cerritos College men's basketball team saw a late lead in the finals of the Clete Adelman Classic slip away. After winning their first two games, the Falcons held a slim 69-68 lead with 1:04 remaining over CCCAA defending state champion San Diego City College. That would be their final points, as the Knights escaped with a 71-69 win. Cerritos (14-4) will take on Bakersfield College on January 13 at 3:00 p.m in a game played at Los Angeles Southwest College.

Cerritos vs. Grossmont: Led by balanced scoring, the Falcons opened the tournament with a 69-57 win over the Griffins. After starting the game by scoring the first six points, Cerritos found themselves trailing, 17-14 midway through the first half. But a 16-6 run allowed the team to take a 30-23 advantage, which was aided by eight points from freshman Cody Wilkes (La Mirada HS), which included a pair of three-pointers. Once they took the lead, the Falcons never relinquished it, despite several runs from Grossmont. Although they were a porous 3-for-27 from three-point range, they were 25-for-38 from the rest of the floor, and out-rebounded the Griffins, 45-35. Sophomore Demetrius Thomas (Bristol, CT HS/Porterville College) produced 13 points and added seven rebounds, with sophomore Jonathan Guzman (Paramount HS) finishing with 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Wilkes added eight points, with sophomore Keshaun Mack (Long Beach Jordan HS/Antelope Valley College) and sophomore Riley Hamilton (Rancho Verde HS) each finishing with11 points.

Cerritos vs. Antelope Valley: With the game looking to go into overtime, Hamilton drained a sideline three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left to advance the Falcons into the championship game with a 58-55 win. Holding an early 11-point lead (21-10), the contest became a battle in the second half, as both teams went back and forth taking the lead. Trailing 53-49 with 3:07 left, Cerritos turned to freshman Christian Alvis (Whittier Christian HS) who a three-pointer, followed by a lay-up to take a 54-53 lead with 1:19 left. With the score 55-53, it was a Hamilton foul with :08 seconds left that allowed Jamar Kemp to step up and convert a pair of free throws for the Marauders. After calling timeout, the inbound pass to Hamilton (seven points, four rebounds) left him with a wide open look and he hit the shot that advanced the team to the finals. Mack led the Falcons with 16 points (four three-pointers), while Thomas finished with 10 points. Alvis ended with nine points, while Guzman (eight points, six rebounds) and sophomore Jason Carter (View Park HS/Santa Monica College), who posted eight points and seven rebounds, also played well.

Cerritos vs. San Diego City: Taking on the defending state champions, the Falcons turned a 39-28 halftime lead into an early 41-28 advantage in the second half after a freshman Anthony Coleiro (Victory Rock Prep, FL HS) basket. The Knights made their way back into the game three points at a time, and finally took over the lead when Trevor Drake made the team's sixth straight three-pointer for a 52-51 lead with 9:24 left. After Thomas scored the Falcons next four points, Guzman scored on a short jumper to give Cerritos a 57-54 lead with 6:37 on the clock. Sophomore Malik Smith (Gahr HS), who scored four straight points, netted a pair of free throws with 1:23 left for the team to take the lead, 68-67. Their final lead came with 1:02 remaining on a free throw by Carter, 69-68. A Joseph Riley basket for the Knights with :11 second left made it a 71-69 game, and on the Falcons final shot of the game, Mack saw his jumper miss, ending the team's chance at the title. Guzman went 9-for-11 from the field for a team-high 19 points off the bench, with Alvis dropping a trio of three-pointers on his way to 13 points, while Thomas (eight rebounds) and Carter (seven rebounds) both added 10 points.