College of the Canyons sophomore point guard Marina Rojas was one of a combined six Cougars from the college’s men’s and women’s basketball programs to earn All-Western State Conference, South Division honors this week. Photo by Jesse Munoz/COC Sports Information
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The College of the Canyons men’s and women’s basketball teams may not be heading to the playoffs this season, but that didn’t prevent the Cougars from seeing a combined six players earn All-Western State Conference, South Division honors.

On the men’s side, COC freshman guards Michael Kalu and Jacob Lilley were both first-team selections, while sophomore forward Chris Collins received honorable mention status.

Kalu led the Cougars in scoring with 17.6 per game to also rank seventh in the WSC. The freshman turned in double-digit scoring nights in 15 straight games to close out the season, including a season high 30 points against El Camino on Jan. 11.

He also finished second on the team with a 46.8 shooting percentage, while pulling down five rebounds a night and registering 1.3 steals a game.

Lilley started 27 games at the point guard position, averaging a team-high five assists per game. That number also placed him sixth in the WSC. Lilley scored an average of nine points per game, but recorded double-digit point totals in four of the team’s eight conference contests. He also reached the double-digit assist plateau on two occasions.

Collins led the team in field-goal percentage, converting on his attempts at a 54.7 percent clip to average 10 points a game. During the conference schedule, Collins stepped up his game to the tune of 14.4 points and 5.8 rebounds each outing.

Canyons concluded the 2016-17 season with a 12-16 overall record and 2-6 mark in conference play to finish fourth in the WSC, South. That total represented a seven-game improvement from the previous year.

COC sophomore point guard Marina Rojas, freshman guard Dayna Tanaka and freshman forward Morgan Bizzell will represent the COC women’s team on the All-WSC, South squad.

Tanaka led COC in scoring with an average of 15.7 points per game, placing her ninth in the WSC. The freshman posted double-digit point totals in 24 of the 25 game she played, including 21 straight to finish the season.

Rojas recorded six triple-doubles on the season, including five straight to begin the conference schedule. Her 13.6 points and 9.2 rebounds per were both second on the squad, while her mark of 6.3 assists each night led the Western State Conference and ranked fourth in the state. During WSC, South play the 5-foot-4 sophomore poured in 17.5 points, 8.8 assists and 10.3 rebounds each time she took the floor.

Bizzell scored 13.2 points per game this season to finish third on the team, while her 9.4 rebounds topped the club and placed her 12th in the WSC. She finished the season by scoring double-digit points in nine of the team’s final 10 games, including a season high 26 points versus L.A. Pierce College on Feb. 8.

Canyons (11-15 overall, 5-3 in WSC, South), which was reduced to six players for the entire conference schedule, ended the year as the third ranked team in the WSC, South after winning four of its final six games down the stretch.

The Cougars did not advance to the postseason for just the second time since the 1992-93 season, head coach Greg Herrick’s first with the program. COC also failed to qualify for the postseason in 2014-15, before bouncing back to win a conference title in 2016.

 Baseball

After a one-game hiatus, No. 15 College of the Canyons got back in the win column on Tuesday, as freshman Anthony Medina hit a walk-off RBI double in the 10th inning that lifted the Cougars to an 8-7 victory over visiting Cerritos College.

Canyons (6-4) scored runs in the seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th innings to cap a back-and-forth game that featured six lead changes. The Cougars took their first lead of the game on a two-run single by Anthony Lepre in the home half of the third.

COC starter Justin Dehn allowed two first inning runs but went on to blank the Falcons over the next five innings, before getting into some trouble in the seventh.

He finished the game with five strikeouts and two walks in his 6 2/3 innings on the mound. The sophomore allowed four hits and was charged with three earned runs.

In the seventh, an RBI double by Medina gave COC the edge again at 5-4. Medina finished the game 2-for-5 with three RBIs, including the eventual game-winner.

But a series of mistakes on the mound and in the field would cost the Cougars in the eighth inning, with the Falcons able to plate three more unearned runs and take a 7-5 lead. COC sophomore Wes Felber’s solo shot later in the inning made it a one-run game at 7-6, and kept the Cougars within striking distance.

Then, with two outs in the ninth, Calvin Estrada roped an RBI single that sent the game to extra innings at 7-7.

Senituli Taufahema led off the tenth inning with a single and later advanced to second on a wild pitch. Two batters later, Medina was back with the bat in his hands to record the walk-off win at 8-7.

COC reliever Jarrett Poh (1-0) got the win after tossing two scoreless innings with three strikeouts.

Softball

 Despite rallying for four runs in the seventh inning, No. 13 College of the Canyons dropped its second straight game on Wednesday, losing 8-7 to visiting Southwestern College at Whitten Field.

Canyons (5-2) was forced to play from behind for the second time in as many games, with the Jaguars scratching out a 3-0 first-inning lead, which they held until the fourth inning.

COC sophomore pitcher Sarah Wilson (2-2) settled into a rhythm after the first, and later recorded a fourth-inning RBI sacrifice fly that drove home Danielle Chatman to make it 3-1. But that momentum turned out to be short lived.

In the top of the fifth, Southwestern put together a five hit rally that scored four more runs and seemingly put the game out of reach at 7-1.

A pair of sixth-inning RBI singles from Alexis Avila and Chatman gave the Cougars new life at 8-3, and set the stage for what turned out to be an exciting final sequence.

Freshman Sienna Vannoy doubled to lead off the seventh, advanced to third on a wild pitch and later scored when Azmarheen Anderson grounded out to the short stop.

Then, a double from Alexis Ramirez and walk by Jordan Vallejo set the table for freshman Melanie Abzun to launch her second home run of the season and put the Cougars within a run at 8-7.

The Cougars’ comeback attempt fell just short, however, with sophomore Gabrielle Padilla getting a good swing on a ball that eventually made its way to the Southwestern center fielder.

Abzun finished the game 3-for-5 and is now batting .481 with 10 RBIs on the year. COC freshman Micayla Aguilar also had a three-hit game, while Chatman and Avila had two hits apiece. Chatman leads the team with a .609 average.

Canyons will look to rebound in its next contest vs. Fullerton College at 2 p.m. on Feb. 28.

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