The AVC Men’s basketball fans want to thank the coaching staff and the players for an outstanding year of JUCO basketball. Sure we wanted to win it all but, Final 4, is outstanding. Just wait till next year!!!!!
Marauders’ run halted
SACRAMENTO – The Antelope Valley College men’s basketball team had scratched and clawed for over a month to reach this point.
Now all the Marauders needed to do was seal the deal.
But with a see-saw game tied at 66 late, AVC went ice cold down the stretch as the Marauders fell to Yuba College 79-69 in the semifinals of the CCCAA state basketball championships.
AVC was outscored 13-3 over the final 3:35 of play.
"I thought for 37 minutes we played a hell of a game," said AVC head coach John Taylor. "Unfortunately the game is 40 (minutes)."
The Marauders (24-8) trailed by as many as eight in the second half as the 49ers used a 13-2 run midway through the half to seemingly keep AVC at bay.
Yet each time, the Marauders stormed back. Trailing by four with 4:40 to play, AVC picked up buckets from sophomore Sean Boston and freshman Vadal Faniel to even the game at 66.
Sophomore Reggie Murphy led the Marauders with 15 points and 13 rebounds, yet the biggest spark came from bench players Boston and Faniel, who each finished with 14 points.
Faniel, who came in averaging a hair over eight points per contest, said his role is mainly a defensive one. Yet the Knight High freshman consistently found a way to the basket.
"I just wanted to come in and help my team with defense and rebounding," Faniel said. "My offensive game just came to me.
"I just wanted to bring a lot of energy."
Sophomore Jason Johnson, the Marauders’ leading scorer, was hampered by foul trouble for the majority of the game. He scored 10 points while playing just 20 minutes.
"It was very frustrating but I had to play through it," Johnson said. "With me being a sophomore and the captain of the team, I had to be there for everybody else even on the bench."
Even with Johnson out for most of the first half, the Marauders led 37-34 at the break. But a strong start to the second half gave Yuba a 58-50 advantage midway through the half. Even as AVC trailed by a half-dozen with less than seven minutes to play, the Marauders continued to fight.
When the Marauders finally tied the game with 3:35 left, the 49ers (33-3) got a spark from an unlikely source as 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Deaundray Robinson nailed a straightaway 3-pointer.
AVC sophomore guard Da’Shawn Gomez, who finished with five assists, said he was surprised when Robinson’s shot swished through.
"He hit a big three to give them momentum," Gomez said. "He stepped up and made a big shot, you have to give that team credit."
As the 49ers slowly crept away, nothing fell on the Marauders’ end. Murphy tried a rim-rattling dunk but the ball caromed off the rim, much like the handful of other shots that AVC hoisted up.
Besides an inability to make a timely basket, one issue that also plagued AVC down the stretch was a lack of communication.
While a small contingent of Marauder supporters made the trip to California’s capital, the 49ers’ fans occupied a solid 80 percent of the gym.
"People didn’t hear what was going on so they were doing different stuff," Faniel said. "They had a lot of people so the crowd was real intense.
"We couldn’t really hear the coaches because it was so loud."
Taylor said he actually enjoyed the raucous noise level inside the Cosumnes River College gym.
"We’ve played in some tough environments," Taylor said. "To me, this was a fun environment.
"I think our guys enjoyed playing here."
The Marauders surely won’t have fond memories of the final three minutes, especially after most people gave up on the team that lost three consecutive games in a rough stretch at the end of the regular season.
"We just couldn’t play at the end like we had all year," Johnson said. "It was mistakes on our end, we should have been up.
"We had our ups and downs but to make it this far, I’m so proud of our team."
Gomez said he desperately wanted this Marauder squad to bring the Valley the school’s first state title.
"That’s what hurts the most, especially for the sophomores," Gomez said.
Even with the inopportune cold streak down the stretch, Taylor said he was impressed with his squad’s fight and desire.
"Where we were three or four weeks ago, this team has come really far," Taylor said. "We had an opportunity to win that game and that’s all we can ask for.
"I like my team and wouldn’t trade them for the world."