By Ashley Gomez
All good things must come to an end as the Riverside City College men’s basketball team concluded its season March 9 with an 66-54 defeat against Santa Monica College in the Southern California Regional Finals.
This was the second time that the Tigers were in the Regional Finals under coach Philip Mathews. The team fought until the end, but unfortunately the Santa Monica Corsairs secured the win in the end.
“During the game we just came out flat,” freshman guard Xavier Scott said. “We couldn’t really get the ball rolling. At the second half, things fell apart and the result was what happened. We lost the game.”
There were six lead changes throughout the game, the team’s largest lead was by nine points in the first half, while the Corsairs’ largest lead was by 15 points in the second half.
By halftime, it was just a one point game, 30-29 in favor of Santa Monica. However, the Corsairs pulled away in the second half outscoring the Tigers 36-25.
Guard CJ Clark finished the game with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists. Guard Otto Taylor finished the game with eight points and six rebounds. Center Franky McQuay finished the game with five points and nine rebounds.
The last Orange Empire Conference game win against Copper Mountain College on Feb. 22 led the Tigers to be in the playoffs for the third consecutive year. The Tigers would go on to beat the Cacti, 94-89.
On March 1, the Tigers defeated Mt. San Jacinto Eagles in the second round of the SoCal Regionals, 77-58, which was RCC’s first recorded victory against the team in six years.
The Corsairs brought their use of defense as the Tigers struggled to add points on the board and when they did, it was often on a tightly contested shot.
Although the Tigers did not advance to the California Community College Athletic Association State Quarterfinals, they played a thrilling season and finished with a 20-10 overall record, an improvement from last year’s 16-11 overall season record.
“Next season, expect for us to make it farther than we did this season,” Scott said. “We definitely will improve as a team over the summer.”