One Game From the State Tournament…AVC Wins Again!

Posted: March 2, 2016 in AVC Men's Basketball, AVC Men's BB 2015-16, Playoffs

imageWith a big crowd roaring their appreciation, led by college president Ed Knutson, every player on the AVC basketball team gave it their all and are headed into to the SoCal final four on Saturday.  Not long ago with all of AVC’s big men’s injured or unavailable(6’10”, 6’9”, 6’8”, 6’6”, 6’5” gone) most people questioned whether the team could win any more games in the season let alone be one game away from the California State Tournament. 

With AVC’s 96-86 win last night, you could feel the confidence of the “newly built on the run team of guards” grow.  Everybody plays, everyone believes.  The cagey coaching staff, has a way to prepare the team for each opponent and tweak the plan adroitly during the game.

AVC had to have  a cadre of “seat police” to get everyone into the right seats last night.  No one wanted to leave the gym after the big win.  They watched AVC shoot a stunning 61% from the floor, 84% from the free throw line, and outrebound the bigger Citrus by seven.  Add to that six AVC players scored in double figures in a game that every one plays.

Was it a perfect game for AVC?  Far from it!  AVC defense especially in the first half needed help.  Three days to fix that. Can AVC accomplish this?  Remember that AVC has had to rebuild itself in the middle of the season on the run. 

See you at Chaffey College, March 5, 2016, 7 P.M..  The most important game of the year.  Here is the Antelope Valley Press’s take on the game.

One step closer

By: John Sanders

LANCASTER – No lead is safe when playing against the Antelope Valley College men’s basketball team.

Especially at the Marauders’ home.

And when the partisan crowd of Marauder supporters looked nervous after Citrus College grabbed a comfortable nine-point lead nearly midway through the second half, head coach John Taylor and AVC showed the resiliency they’ve shown all season long and took command of the game.

“We play 10 guys and I think we just wear them down,” Taylor said. “I’m not sure of any other team in the state that does that besides Fresno City.”

AVC won the battle of attrition and wore down the Owls for a 96-86 victory Wednesday night at Marauder Gymnasium, propelling the Marauders into the quarterfinals of the state playoffs, where they will face Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga on Saturday at 7 p.m.

The Marauders (25-6), who defeated Citrus three times this season, are one game away from going to the state tournament. The last time an AVC team did that was during the 2011-2012 season.

“We’ve been just keeping our composure during games,” Taylor said. “I think we’re playing better right now than when we were 14-1 this season.”

The Owls (16-14), coming off an upset victory against No. 2 San Bernardino Valley College last Saturday night and playing red hot, took a 64-55 lead with 13:55 remaining in the second half following a bucket by Mark Williams.

Enter AVC’s Cory Dollarhide and Greg Wesley.

AVC, undefeated at home this season (12-0), went on an 11-2 run when Dollarhide and Wesley came off the bench to tie the score at 66-66. With the exception of a couple of buckets trickling in, Wesley and Dollarhide seemed to exchange baskets.

At one point in the game Dollarhide, scored 10 of the Marauders’ 12 points.

An acrobatic shot by Kenneth Moffett and a made foul shot gave AVC a 76-74 lead with 7:41 remaining in the second half. Wesley then scored the next seven points for AVC, including a lob dunk on a pass from Chris Martin to give the Marauders an 83-80 lead.

“I’m not trying to go home. We knew it was time to turn it up or go home,” said Wesley, who finished with 13 points. “I just tried to come out and do what I had to do (to help the team). We came in with a good mentality and knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.”

With the help from the 3-pointer, the Owls were able to stay in the game.

Trailing 83-80, Citrus’ Kenneth Cyprian (5-of-7 from behind the arc) netted a 3-point shot to tie the score.

The Owls had their chances, but with the score tied late in the game, two critical turnovers (a player control foul and a travelling violation) gave AVC opportunities. The Marauders led 85-83 when Jalen Etienne sunk a 3-pointer in front of the Marauder faithful from the corner to put his team up five points with 1:06 remaining in the game.

“This is the third time we played them and it’s hard to beat a team three times in a season. We never quit fighting,” said Etienne, who finished with 12 points. “It was a tough game, a battle. But we’ve been here plenty of times and we knew what was at stake. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”

Another turnover by Citrus and late free-throw shooting by AVC sealed the victory.

“I think the guys really believe now. They’re executing better,” Taylor said. “We were able to get stops down the stretch. The guys know each other a lot better and they trust each other.”

The Marauders were clinging to a lead the first half of the game. Citrus finally broke through as it took its first lead of the game following a 3-pointer, giving it a 30-29 lead. The Owls were able to maintain that lead to finish the second half and led 49-43 at halftime following a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Cyprian (19 points).

Citrus connected on 11 total 3-pointers, an area the Marauders have had trouble defending much of the season.

“Our coach told us at halftime that we can’t continue giving up threes,” Etienne said. “We just had to regroup and he told us to execute on offense.”

AVC got balanced scoring from all of its players and had five players score in double figures, led by Nevell Lenard, who came out smoking in the first half. He scored 12 of his team-high 16 points in the first six minutes of the game.

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