Team Effort Key to Win

Posted: March 4, 2017 in AVC Men's Basketball, AVC Men's BB 2016-17, Playoffs



Mar 03, 2017

Photo by Bruce Jacobsen

GLENDORA – The hat trick?

Well that’s what the Citrus College men’s basketball team is hoping for. On the other hand, the Marauder men’s basketball team is looking to make its second consecutive Elite Eight appearance and with that comes defeating the Owls for the first time this season.

"I think we’re ready. We have to go out and give it our best shot," AVC head coach John Taylor said. "We’re playing our best ball of the season and I like our chances."

One would think so.

However, it won’t be easy for the Marauders (21-10). Citrus (24-6) has defeated AVC in both matchups this season. The Owls came into Marauder Gymnasium when AVC was in first place and left with an 80-75 victory. A few weeks later the Owls did it again at their home defeating the Marauders, 81-72.

Still AVC has been playing some of its best basketball of the season. It currently rides a three-game winning streak, ironically its last loss came against the Owls. Those victories included a blowout victory against Glendale College, 116-74, and two playoff victories against Santa Monica College (89-80) and Saddleback College (79-67), avenging an earlier season defeat to the Gauchos.

"We have to change a lot of thinks we didn’t do (against Citrus). We have to work harder on defense since they’re a shooting team," AVC’s Jailen Gill said. "I don’t think we played to the best of our ability (in both losses). We know what’s at stake. I think everybody is buying in. We either come ready to play or we don’t take care of business. We understand our season can be over."

Gill has been dominant against the Owls in both games this season. He is averaging 18.5 points per game and 11.5 rebounds per game, including a 24-point, 11-rebound game at home on Jan. 25.

The Marauders will also need another solid effort from Antone Warren. AVC’s big man in the middle was very efficient in the first meeting between the two teams but played limited minutes due to foul trouble. He finished the game 5-of-6 shooting with 10 points and six rebounds in only 10 minutes of action.

Warren ranks No. 6 in the state in field goal percentage (63.1), while Gill is right behind at No. 7 (62.5).

Reggie Byers is another player that has given Citrus fits. Byers, who was recently inserted into the starting lineup the past three games for AVC, has averaged 17 points per game in two meetings with the Owls.

Byers will also have the daunting task of guarding Citrus’ Jeremy Smith. Smith has torched the Marauders, averaging 23 points per game.

"We have to go out hard like we did against Saddleback. I feel like I need to guard him (Smith) full court the whole game and let him get nothing," said Byers. "We definitely have to defend the three. If we stop them from three, we’ll be good. I’m feeling so good about this game. I haven’t been able to sleep."

In two games this season, the Owls have netted 21 3-pointers against AVC, including going 13-of-27 in the second meeting at Citrus. The Marauders struggled in their seven games prior to entering the playoffs, allowing a combined 75 3-pointers to their opponents.

"We have to do a better job defensively and not allow them to get second and third shots," Taylor said. "We have to do things to offset what they do. If we play like we have against (Glendale, Santa Monica and Saddleback), I think we have a good chance.

D’Mauria Jones could be a key factor in Saturday’s game. The freshman who can score at anytime, brings energy and a defensive prowess that will be pivotal against the Owls’ guards.

"They’re a really good team and it’s going to be a heck of a game," Citrus head coach Brett Lauer said. "Both teams are playing really well. It’s going to be a battle. It’s always fun to be playing games in March."

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