By Ashley Gomez
Riverside City College men’s basketball team concluded its regular season Feb. 23 with an 94-89 win against Copper Mountain College at home.
The Tigers finished the season 19-9 overall and finished for fourth place in the Orange Empire Conference with a 8-4 conference record.
Riverside started the season 6-4, but have since gone 13-5 with great defense and a great three-point average.
“Our regular season didn’t go as anticipated, but we’re pretty happy of coming out strong and being able to close out close games in order to initiate the win,” sophomore center Franky McQuay said.
The Tigers averaged 25.1 defensive rebounds and 7.7 steals per game this season. The Tigers also averaged in making 9.8 3-points per game, which is higher than their average of 7.6 last season.
“Our last few games, we are locking it up on defense,” freshman guard Xavier Scott said.
“We’re following the game plan and playing great offensively to move the ball side to side in order to get more action flowing to win games.”
Four members of the team finished the regular season averaging double-digit points.
“We have to be good defensively,” said head coach Philip Mathews. “We have to shoot a high amount of three-points in order to win games.”
Guard CJ Clark led the way averaging 16.2 points per game. Clark also finished his sophomore campaign with an average of 4.0 rebounds per game.
Guard Otto Taylor finished his sophomore campaign with 13.9 points as he drew in 2.0 rebounds per game.
Guard Chris Harper finished his freshman campaign with 11.5 points and an average of 5.3 rebounds per game. Guard Tyree Winborn finished his freshman campaign with 10.9 per game. Although McQuay averaged 8.2 points per game, he hauled in 7.0 rebounds per game.
“It’s a team effort,” Scott said. “Everybody plays a part, everybody does their role.”
The Tigers are in the playoffs for the third consecutive year under Mathews.
RCC won two postseason games back in the 2016-2017 season and made to the second round of the Southern California Regionals in the 2017-2018 season. The last playoff game was a 76-75 triple overtime loss against Cerritos College in the Southern California Regional playoffs last year.
On March 1, the Tigers hosted the 10th seed Mt. San Jacinto Eagles, in the second round of the SoCal Regionals. These two teams played against each other twice this season, with the Eagles winning both games.
With the Eagles averaging 90 points per game, the Tigers utilized their defense to great use in order to come out victorious, forcing the Eagles to 19 turnovers. The Tigers would go on to beat the Eagles 77-58, which is the first win against the team in six years
“Our win against (Mt. San) Jacinto is the biggest achievement this season for me,” said Scott. “Because we lost the two times that we played each other, but we came out with the win on March 1, which was pretty big for us.”
On March 9, the Tigers will play against 15th seed Santa Monica College in the Regional Finals in a pivotal home game.
“Great defense and intensity,” said McQuay.” That is what we are striving for against Santa Monica. That is what it is going to take to win.”