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The spark they needed

The College of the Canyons earns first conference win of season

Posted: January 17, 2009 10:13 p.m.
Updated: January 18, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
The College of the Canyons men's basketball got the lift it needed on Saturday night after dropping its first two conference games of the season.

The Cougars played a complete all-around game at the Cougar Cage to earn their first conference win of the season, dropping West L.A. College 82-63.

COC head coach Howard Fisher shook up his starting lineup prior to the game, giving freshman guards Eric Brown and CJ Atkins and forward Brooks Flanagan the nod.

"We needed to jump-start our intensity and make sure that our practices were more competitive," Fisher said.

Atkins responded with 13 points, going 3-for-3 on 3-pointers.

"We recognized that with our past few losses, our ball pressure on the other team's guards was lacking a little bit," Atkins said. "I told coach that I would take the responsibility, not only for myself, but also for my teammates to get that done."

The pressure was effective, as the Cougars (8-13, 1-2) forced 17 turnovers and held the Wildcats (12-11, 2-2) to 40 percent shooting for the game.

COC never trailed in the game.

The scored was only tied once at 5-5 early in the first half.

The Cougars took control from there en route to a 46-28 halftime lead.

Sophomore Justin Smith was big reason for that lead.
The 6-foot-6-inch forward posted a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds to go along with two blocks and two steals.

Playing smothering defense was Valencia graduate Terrez Scott, who came off the bench for 11 points, six assists and two steals.

Both swipes turned into fast break points and the team as a whole recorded 12 points off turnovers.

"We executed, finally," said Scott. "We worked as a team. We actually had a chemistry on the floor, and we played as one, instead of individuals."

After the Cougars' lead ballooned at 24 points with 11:33 remaining the game, West L.A. began a short run.

The Wildcats refused to give up, continuing their full-court pressure and crept back into the game behind the play of Shakir Johnson, who finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, three steals and seven blocks.

"He has a great impact on the game," West L.A. head coach Ernie Carr said. "He's the leading shot-blocker, probably, in the state. We didn't use him enough and our perimeter defense was very poor, and they put him in harm's way."

Robert Broderick led the Wildcats with 19 points.
Fisher called a time out after the deficit was cut to 14 points with just over four minutes to play, and tried to regroup his team.

"We need to be focused, and we need to bring the intensity for 40 minutes, not 37 or 36," Fisher said. "The game is 40 and you have to commit to 40 minutes and compete for 40 minutes. Don't play to the scoreboard, but play to what our team goals were."

The Cougars responded by expanding the lead to 19 points as the final buzzer went off.

"We hold Bakersfield, a high-scoring team to 63 (points) last Wednesday night, and we give up 83 tonight," Carr said. "So, we didn't come ready to play."

Jason Holzwarth and Brannon Bradley each scored 10 points for the Cougars, who will play at L.A. Valley on Jan. 21 at 5 p.m.

"After the tournaments that we had been to, we had seen most of the teams that we play in conference, even the teams that are ranked tough in state," Atkins said. "Hopefully this win, and this momentum, can carry over to nine straight games and we can get a good playoff seed."

Women's Basketball
COC 95, West L.A. 70

The Cougars remain undefeated in conference play after the win on Saturday night.

Arielle White led the way for COC (14-8, 3-0) with 33 points, shooting 11-for-21 from the field with four 3-pointers. Charity Smith scored 17 points with eight rebounds and Britney Bradley added 13 points, with seven assists and five boards.

COC shot 52.9 percent from the field, while holding the Wildcats (11-9, 2-2) to 33.8 percent with 35 turnovers.


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