M. Basketball: Falcons pull out emotional win

Jonathan Guzman produced 14 points and 18 rebounds in a winning cause
Jonathan Guzman produced 14 points and 18 rebounds in a winning cause

Playing in front a packed house at The Aviary, the Cerritos College men's basketball team pulled out an 87-83 South Coast Conference South Division win over rival Long Beach City College on Wednesday night. The Falcons (20-4, 4-0), ranked #8 in the state and #4 in Southern California, now holds a two-game lead in divisional play after the first round. The team will host El Camino College at 7:00 p.m. on Friday. The win enabled the team to reach the 20-win plateau for the third season in a row.

After a blazing start, where Cerritos drained seven three-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the game, Long Beach City (14-10, 3-2) was able to pull themselves back into the game. A three-pointer from sophomore Demetrius Thomas (Bassick, CT HS/Porterville College) with 2.1 seconds left in the first half gave the Falcons a 47-42 lead at intermission.

Leading from the outset, Cerritos saw their lead slip away, thanks to the hot hand of Jeremiah Sadler, who scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the second half. The Vikings tied the game at 52-52 with 16:51 remaining in the second half and then expanded that lead to 72-67 with 8:17 left after a Sadler three-pointer. Successful free throw shooting allowed the Falcons to tie the game at 77-77 with 4:50 remaining, as the team converted eight in a row. Freshman Isaiah Tyler (Redondo Union HS) tied the game with a pair of free throws.

With time running out in the game, Cerritos once again drew even, this time at 81-81 when Thomas scored from close range with 1:17 left. A steal by Tyler resulted in a pair of converted free throws and another Falcon lead. Sophomore Jonathan Guzman (Paramount HS) then pulled down his career-high 18th rebound off a missed William Sadler shot and fed a breaking Thomas. Looking for an emphatic dunk, Thomas missed the sure two points. The ball landed in front of freshman guard Christian Alvis (Whittier Christian HS), who passed the ball back to Thomas. Pinned along the sideline, Thomas was forced out of bounds with :24 seconds left, giving LBCC life.

The game was tied at 83-83 with 9.1 seconds left after Jamiu Akinbile stole the ball from Tyler on an inbound pass and scored while getting fouled. Akinbile missed the potential go-ahead free throw and followed that miss by fouling Tyler on a driving laup with 3.5 seconds left. Tyler, who went 6-for-6 from the free throw line, drained both to give the Falcons lead. With one chance left to tie the game, sophomore Riley Hamilton (Rancho Verde HS) was able to deflect a pass by Sadler heading deep into Falcon territory, with Thomas finishing off the scoring with a pair of free throws.

Thomas, who was 10-for-10 at the free throw line, finished with 24 points and eight rebounds, with Guzman posting his 14 points and 18 rebounds off the bench. Sophomore Keshaun Mack (Long Beach Jordan HS/Antelope Valley College), who had the hot hand in the first half with 14 points, concluded the night with 18 points, with Hamilton and Alvis (five rebounds, three steals) each posting seven points.

Photos by Daryl Peterson