Eight Teams Battle For Glory
On March 14, the Chaffey College Panther basketball battled the Fresno City College (FCC) Rams in the California Community College Athletic Associations' (CCCAA) men's basketball Elite Eight tournament. The Panther's season came to an end as the FCC Rams held off a late comeback to win the game with a score of 68-56. Prior to our arrival, the Citrus College Owls defeated the Sequoias Community College (SCC) Giants 70-59 to advance to the Final Four. After two games, the event was in full swing with two games to go.
The Santa Monica Community College (SMCC) Pirates fought hard to hold off the San Francisco City College (SFCC) Rams, but fell short in the final minutes of regulation. SFCC was able to pull off the 71-68 win, setting the stage for the final showdown of the day between the Fullerton City College (FCC) Hornets and the Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) Bear Cubs.
Going into the Elite Eight, SRJC came off of a controversial win versus the Gavilan College (GC) Rams at the buzzer. In the final seconds, Gavilan hit a hook shot over Santa Rosa's Skyler Chavez (#33), down 68-66. The score would have tied the game at 68 to send it into overtime if not for a foul that could have gone either way.
"Santa Rosa wasn't even supposed to be here. The game ended on a shot to tie the game and a foul. With both teams thinking they were headed to the elite eight," Chaffey College's Head Coach Jeff Klein says, "the call could have gone either way. It was either to be called a blocking foul against Santa Rosa to send the game into overtime or a charging foul discarding the final score. As the two teams waited, the refs returned with a charging foul to send Santa Rosa to play Fullerton College."
Jeff Klein spoke to us after the game. When asked about the team and what they can do to carry the momentum into next season, he cited performances by all state Forward, Kehasson “Manu” Oulai who averaged a double-double over the season. "Manu" is a 6'8" freshman from the Ivory Coast and a key player to the Panthers' success this season.
The star forward is shooting 59.4 percent from the field averaging 15.9 points per game and 10.6 rebounds per game. 'Manu' has been the driving force behind this team since the start of the season. Klein also cites performances by sophomores Jordan McCullough and Anthony Garcia. Looking at his roster going into next season, Klein believes that Aaron Johnson, Deron Williams, Davie Bailey, and 'Manu' will be the cornerstone players going into next season.
The seasons of SRJC, CC, SMC, and SCC end short of the ultimate goal, leaving just four teams left in contention for a state championship. This Saturday, Fullerton City College will face off against Fresno City College and the Citrus College Owls are set to battle the San Francisco City College Rams for a bid at a State Championship and the banner that hangs forever.