M. Basketball: Cerritos advances to state semis with win

Falcons defeat Yuba, 83-77 to advance to the semifinals
Falcons defeat Yuba, 83-77 to advance to the semifinals

VENTURA - Playing in their first CCCAA State Tournament game since the 2001-02 season, the Cerritos College men's basketball team defeated Yuba, 83-77 on Friday. The quarterfinal win advances the Falcons (27-5) into the semifinals, where they will play at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night at Ventura College against San Francisco City College, who defeated Allan Hancock College in another quarterfinal game. The Falcons, seeded #2 from Southern California and champions of the South Coast Conference South Division, snapped a 16-game winning streak by the 49ers, who were the champions of the Bay Valley Conference and the #3-seeded team from Northern California. It was the first state tournament win for Cerritos since they won the 1999 state championship game, a 92-77 victory over Mt. San Jacinto College. The Falcons have won five state titles in their history.

They started off quickly by taking a 7-0 lead against Yuba (25-6) and then opened up a 26-16 lead with 8:39 left in the first half after a pair of Cody Wilkes (La Mirada HS) free throws after an intentional foul. Through the first half, Cerritos shot 52% from the field, compared to 30% for the 49ers. Additionally, the Falcons used their bench to an advantage, as they received 16 points and controlled the inside game.

Yuba was content scoring their points three at a time and went 10-for-24 from three-point range, and were led by Jeryn Lucas who hit on five of them, with Elishja Duplechan leading all scorers with 26 points. By contrast, the Falcons pounded the ball inside by using sophomores Jonathan Guzman (Paramount HS) and Jason Carter (View Park HS/Santa Monica College), who combined to go 9-for-16 from the field.

The Falcon lead hovered around six points most of the second half, and when Guzman scored on a driving layup, the advantage was 60-52 with 9:18 left in the game. Cerritos received a couple of scares, as both Demetrius Thomas (Bassick, CT HS/Porterville College) and Carter went down with injuries. Thomas returned to the game, but Carter did not. Thomas provided both an inside and outside game, as he led the team with 20 points (8-of-17 FG), 12 rebounds and four assists.

With Yuba pulling to within 74-70, freshman guard Christian Alvis (Whittier Christian HS) collected a rebound and started a fast break that finished on a Wilkes dunk. It was Wilkes once again who finished a fast break to put the team in front, 80-75 with 45.1 seconds left. With the score, 80-77, Alvis was fouled as the shot clock was about to expire and he calmly netted a pair of free throws to secure the win.

Thomas led the team, while Mack (13 points), sophomore Riley Hamilton (Rancho Verde HS), who had 12 points, also played well. Off the bench, the duo of Guzman (11 points, eight rebounds) and Wilkes (10 points) aided in a complete team effort. The Falcons posted 15 of their 42 rebounds on the offensive end.