By Cameron Winston
The No.11 ranked Riverside City College men’s basketball team is building on its strong finish from last season, which saw the team reaching the regional finals, by starting 4-0 in preseason play.
The Tigers were crowned the champions of the Ventura College Tournament after defeating Moorpark College, Antelope Valley College, and Orange Coast College.
“We played hard and rebounded surprisingly well,” head coach Philip Mathews said. “Something I thought would be a problem area for us. That’s what helped get us to 4-0 is our rebounding and defense.”
The game against Moorpark, had the Tigers secure a 73-65 victory guided by the efforts of sophomore All-League guard, Brae Ivey. Ivey’s scoring was on full display with a 31 point performance, going 11 for 17 from the field, and 4 of 7 from the 3-point line.
The Tigers then went on to defeat Antelope Valley, 72-67, in a back and forth game that witnessed both teams’ players struggle to find a rhythm early. They were led by Ivey’s 16 points, which were mainly scored from the charity stripe going 9 for 12, and freshman forward Jordan Robinson’s first college career double-double.
The victories took them on route to the tournament finals where they would face off against Orange Coast College. The game ended up being a 88-69 blowout for RCC. A hot start to the first half is what carried the Tigers the rest of the way scoring 42 points while holding Orange Coast to 24 points.
The Tigers combined to shoot 48 percent from the three-point line going 10 for 22. While making life difficult for Orange Coast at the three-point line hitting on only two shots out of fourteen for only 14 percent.
Riverside had four of their starters score in double-digits led by Ivey’s 28 points while hitting four 3-pointers as well. Sophomore Kane Daniels also impacted the game with his scoring, contributing 16 points, shooting for 50 percent and adding four 3-pointers himself.
Ivey has had an incredible start to the season so far and has been a big reason for Riverside’s roaring start. He averages 22.5 points a game and is also ranked fifth in the Orange Empire Conference. His shooting from beyond the arc has also been a benefit to the season hitting on 53 percent of his attempts that has slotted him at No. 2 in the conference.
“I think I can do a better job at getting my teammates more involved,” Ivey said. “We have a lot of new pieces and I gotta find a way to get them going, and help them find the spots they flourish best at.”
Riverside’s 4-0 start to the season has put them in the right direction to prepare for conference play against strong programs like Saddleback College and Fullerton College.
In the end these tournaments are mainly for teams to work on growth, to work out the kinks and find a rhythm before preperation for conference foes.
The Tigers will look to add on to their undefeated record in a game against No.8 East Los Angeles College on Nov. 17. That game will embark on another tournament series hosted by cross town rival San Bernardino Valley College.
“A chance to be on the road and experience different crowds,” coach Mathews said. “Playing different teams gets you ready to face those teams throughout the playoffs and league.”