M. Basketball: Falcons seeded #5 for playoffs

File Photo: Jamal Heckard (2) and the Falcons open the playoffs on Friday
File Photo: Jamal Heckard (2) and the Falcons open the playoffs on Friday

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On the heels of their second straight - and third in four years - conference championship, the Cerritos College men's basketball team has been seeded #5 for the Southern California Regional Playoffs. The Falcons (22-6), who are looking to make their second straight appearance in the CCCAA State Championships, will be hosting #12-seeded West Los Angeles (20-8) at 7:00 p.m. in a second round game on Friday. The winner advances to the third round the following Saturday, with the winner advancing to the CCCAA State Championships, which will take place at Ventura College.

This will be just the second meeting ever between the two teams, with the Falcons posting an 87-82 win back in 1992 in their only other matchup. Cerritos posted an 8-5 record against teams that made the playoffs this season, while the Wildcats, champions of the West State Conference South Division, went 3-4 against playoff teams.

The Falcons have turned to a deep bench and versatile lineup to help them this season. Freshman Chance Hunter (Inglewood HS) leads the team with a 14.0 scoring average, as well as 7.5 rebounds a game, while freshman Tawon Elston (Roosevelt HS) has come off the bench to account for 11.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Sophomore Cody Wilkes (La Mirada HS), who leads the team with 58 three-pointers, is third on the team with an 11.6 scoring average, while versatile guard Jamal Heckard (Carson HS/El Camino College) checks in with 7.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, which includes a triple-double earlier in the season.

As for the Wildcats, they average almost 80 points a game and have four players who score in double-figures per game. Mark Carter leads the team with a 14.9 average, with Derrick Woods (11.3), Terrell Walters (10.9) and Jeremy Hamilton (10.0) also scoring in double figures. Carter has been successful on 56% of his field goals, with Walters making good on 46% of his three-point attempts, which ranks 13th in the state.