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Volume 141, Issue #5



Sports

FOOTBALL STAR HELPS BASKETBALL TEAM AS WALK-ON

BY MILES HARWELL
Editor

Maurice Purify executes a two-handed dunk against Ohlone.

FELIPE JUNQUEIRA / GUARDSMAN

Junior college All-American receiver Maurice Purify has found new use of his athleticism away from the football field as he has become a major contributor to the Rams basketball team in his sophomore year at City College.

“He’s been a spark,” basketball head coach Justin Labagh said of Purify’s ability as a two-sport athlete. “He’s had a positive impact on the team. He is so athletic, he could be a three-sport athlete if he wanted to be.”

Purify joined the team during the Delta Tournament in December of 2005, where he was named all-tournament first team. The Rams have gone 16-1 since Purify entered the roster.

“I’m not used to playing center,” he said. “It’s a different mindset in the post.” Despite the inexperience, Purify has averaged 14.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.

Purify has found success at center with a physical playing style similar to what he has used on the football field. He uses his strength to box out for rebounds and to gain post position for inside scoring opportunities.

“Going up for a rebound is just like reaching for a pass,” he said. “You have to be physical.”

Although he has been impressive on the basketball court, Purify’s future will still revolve around football. Purify will continue competing on the gridiron at the University of Nebraska in the fall of 2006.

Purify’s decision to become a Cornhusker met the approval of Rams football head George Rush.

“They have a great winning tradition,” Rush said of Nebraska football. “There will be a lot of opportunities for him there.”

“They’re starting to pass more and they’re looking for receivers,” Purify said of Nebraska’s offense. “I like what head coach Bill Callahan is doing there.”

In two years at City College, Purify has lacerated defenses for 1,762 yards and 30 touchdowns off 92 catches. Many of his catches came in late-game scenarios, helping to secure Ram victories.

“He will be best remembered for great catches in the clutch,” Rush said.

While football will be Purify’s priority when he departs for Nebraska in May of 2006, he remains focused on winning a state basketball championship for the Rams.

Purify is motivated by the goal of deceased Rams team captain Terrell Anderson, whose No. 22 jersey remains draped over the seat left of the Rams coaches’ seats, which is left vacant by his teammates in Anderson’s memory. Anderson convinced Purify to play basketball once the 2005 football season had ended.

“I didn’t get to win [a championship] in football,” Purify said. “Terrell worked hard to get me on the team, and this is what he would’ve wanted.”

e-mail: sports@theguardsman.com


BASEBALL TEAM HOPES TO IMPROVE

BY BRIAN PEKRUL
Contributing Writer

Nine games into the 2006 baseball season, Rams head coach John Vanoncini is expecting to see his young team grow with experience and show major improvement following a 3-6 start.

After opening the season with a win against Napa, the Rams have struggled as of late, losing six of their last eight games.

The Rams have been tough competitors in every game they’ve played this season with exception of a blowout loss to Sequoia. Most games have been close, including heart-breaking losses to San Jose and Hartnell. The Rams had a chance to win each game in their last at bat.

“If a few breaks had gone our way, we could have easily been 7-2 right now,” Vanoncini said.

Much of the Rams slow start can be attributed to the team’s youth and inexperience.

“We’ve brought in a lot of talented players this season,” Vanoncini said. “We just need more time playing together to make it translate into wins.”

Despite the rough start, the Rams’ season has had many bright spots, including outfielder Travis Gonzaga who leads the Rams with a remarkable .447 batting average. Outfielder Zac Lee has been consistent, batting .359 with seven runs batted in and one home run.

Vanoncini is expecting his young team to hit its stride in mid-March after they have more time playing together.

“We are far better than our record shows,” he said. “We’re still just trying to figure out where everyone fits in.”

For now the players and staff remain upbeat about the season. Starting shortstop Geoff Downing believes that team chemistry is the team’s biggest strength. “We’re a tight group of guys,” he said. “We’re really coming together pretty fast.”


SCOREBOARD

Men's Basketball

The Rams avenged a Jan. 18 loss at Foothill with a 49-42 win at home on Feb 8. Midway through the second half, forward Patrick Dreith completed a three-point play to put the Rams up 41-27, but this would ignite a 15-2 Owl run. The Owls kept the game close up until the final minute when Rams point guard Eric Turner hit his first basket of the game to put the Rams up by five. Center Maurice Purify hit two free throws to seal the victory, as he finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds. Forward Dave McSwain added 13 points and 11 rebounds. The Rams ended the season with an 81-64 victory over Skyline. Guard Justin Holmes led the Rams with 15 points. McSwain had 11 points and 12 rebounds. The Rams finished the regular season with a 27-3 record, 9-1 in conference play. The first round of the playoffs begins on Feb. 24. — Miles Harwell

Women's Basketball

The Rams extended their winning streak to nine games with back-to-back wins over Chabot and De Anza. A pair of co-captains sparked the Rams’ 68-57 victory against Chabot as point guard Trisha Alaba dropped 15 points, and forward Pernisha Battle had 22 points and 12 rebounds. Backcourt dominance, solid interior play and smothering defense proved to be fruitful once again as the Rams mauled De Anza 76-31. Despite a strong surge in the second half against Foothill on Feb. 15, the Rams’ streak ended with a 50-42 loss. In the final game of the regular season, the Rams defeated San Mateo, building on a 34-18 half-time lead on their way to a 79-52 victory. Winning three out of its final four games has established the team as Coast Conference champions, while improving to 2nd in Northern California and 6th in the state. The Rams finished with a 23-7 record as they attempt to vie for the state championship. — Ankit Goyal