SIERRA ELIMINATES RAMS IN CLOSE GAME
BY HARRY BROWN
Senoj Jones penetrates the Sierra defense to take a jump shot.
ELI MILCHMAN / SPECIAL TO THE GUARDSMAN
The Rams played its final game of the season March, 3 at Sierra, as the Wolverines prevailed in the game’swaning moments, 64-62 in the second round of the North Regional playoffs.
The epic Ram - Wolverine battle began ominously for City College when the Wolverines connected on three of its first four 3-pointers and jumped out to an early 11-5 lead. The Rams then began to apply full-court pressure setting traps for Wolverine ball handlers at half court. Its defense then kicked into high gear, allowing it to steal the momentum.
“Since the second game we’ve been pressing, it’s nothing new,” said head coach Jamie Wong. “We couldn’t allow them to bring the ball up uncontested.”
The Rams created havoc for the Sierra backcourt, and fell seamlessly into a swarming zone defense when it wasn’t able to force turnovers. The Rams capped off a crowd jolting 8 minute 21-7 run when freshmen standout Senoj Jones scored in the lane and Sierra was forced to call a timeout. The Rams offense sputtered as the first half wound down but still was able to maintain a 31-30 lead at the half.
The second half began with both teams trading baskets. The Rams was able to maintain the lead thanks in part to clutch 3-pointers from Jones and freshmen Kimberly Hom. With the score tied at 47 the drama exploded on court. The Rams and Wolverines exchanged hoops over a three minute stretch, combining to make five consecutive shots including another 3-pointer from Jones.
Sophomore Marianne Bautista came up big with clutch free throw shooting; Jones was also successful at the line. After a steal by Rams’ freshmen Tiffany Callahan led to a scram for the loose ball, sophomore Andrea Ohlssen found herself hitting what was up to that point, the biggest shot of the game. Ohlssen’s 3-pointer tied the score at 57 with just under five minutes remaining, and capped the most thrilling seven minutes of the game.
The game’s final four minutes consisted of clutch foul shots for the Rams, but was out-done by big buckets down the stretch from the opposition. The Wolverines celebrated victory after a deflected, game-tying Ram shot attempt bounced off the front of the rim.
The Wolverines won the game with its strong inside play, while the Rams defensive intensity almost carried it past Sierra’s imposing post presence.
The Rams most recent triumph of the season had come in round one of the playoffs when it defeated the Ohlone College Renegades at home 74-68, in a physical battle.
“They just grew, they’re peaking at the right time,” Wong said after the Ohlone victory.
Aside from stellar sophomore guards, Bautista and Ohlssen, the team was comprised mostly of freshmen who will have the opportunity to return next year
“We’re a young team and we’ve grown as a team,” Wong said. “I’m very proud of the girls and I know that this growth will allow them to take on the next challenge.”
WEST HILLS CRUSHES RAMS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP HOPES IN VIGOROUS BATTLE
BY RICHARD STERN
The Rams fell one point short as they battled West Hills down to the wire. They finished the season with a record of 28-6.
STEFAN JORA / GUARDSMAN
Facing a team whose season they had ended each of the last two years and with an invitation to the State Championship on the line, the fourth-seeded City College Rams came up one basket short in an 80-79 loss to the fifth seeded West Hills Falcons on March 3, even with a home court advantage.
The Rams, who defeated West Hills in the championship game of the San Jose Classic on December 9th, was unable to match the quickness of West Hills and could not solve the motion offense that the Falcons ran.
“They beat us in every aspect of the game,” said Rams head coach Justin Labagh. “They just wanted it more than we did and it showed from the opening tip.
The teams traded baskets for the first 12 minutes of the game with the Rams building their largest lead at 9-4, on a lay-up by forward Andre Davis. But forward Stanley Harris, the Rams inside force, picked up two quick fouls and had to go to the bench for the remainder of the half and was not a factor in the rest of the game.
With Harris on the bench, West Hills whittled the Rams lead and with 7:57 left in first half took a 22-21 advantage. They then went on a 23-14 run to end the half and take a 45-35 lead into the locker room. It was a lead they would never relinquish.
In the second half, West Hills extended its lead to as much as 15 points and was able to maintain at least a 10 point advantage until Rams’ guard John Cornwell hit two free throws with 5:54 left to cut the Falcons lead to seven, 65-58.
West Hills’ leading scoring guard Brandon Brown would go on to accumulate nine of his team high 20 points in the next five and one half minutes to seal the victory. Ricky Branham added 19 points and Guiressi Grimes turned in 11 as the two other Falcon guards scored in double figures.
Forward Ron Manigault led the Rams with a game high 26 points and guard John Cornell added 19.
The Rams ended the season at 28-6. “We played hard all year and tonight I’m very proud that we didn’t lay down but our lack of attention to detail cost us games before and it cost us this game,” Labagh said.
The Rams advanced to play West Hills by defeating the 14 seed Sierra College Wolverines, 81-64, in the first round of the playoffs February 24 in the South Gym.
The Rams dominated Sierra College from the opening tip and cruised to victory. They had four players in double figures led by guard John Cornell with 17 points, forwards Stanley Harris and Andre Davis added 13 points each and Ron Manigault pitched in 11 points.