By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
For The Signal
The College of the Canyons men’s and women’s basketball programs will take a road trip to West L.A. College in the regular season finale on Saturday.
If things go right, both teams will be returning to Santa Clarita as the respective champions of the Western State Conference (WSC), South Division with an eye on the postseason.
“Now it comes down to one game,” said COC men’s basketball head coach Howard Fisher, a day after the Cougars knocked off Bakersfield College 81-77 in a hard-fought game that saw four players score in double digits.
Robert Moss shot 9-of-12 from the floor and 5-of-6 from behind the arc to lead Canyons with 23 points against the Renegades. COC starters Michael Kalu and Frankie Campbell scored 13 and 10 points, respectively, while Jude Agbasi came off the bench with 16 points.
With the victory Canyons (14-12, 5-2) has now won four straight games, and five of the last six, to position itself atop the WSC, South standings in a first-place tie with West L.A. (17-10, 5-2).
A win on Saturday would give the men’s program its first conference title since the 2012-13 season, and the ninth in program history.
The Cougars previously defeated the Wildcats 73-68 back on Jan. 31 in the Cougar Cage, after coming back from an 11-point second half deficit.
“I think we all, as a team, collectively understand the importance of it,” said COC sophomore point guard Jacob Lilley, who scored a game-high 19-points over West L.A. in the first meeting.
“That’s something that we kind of missed in the beginning of the year, but we’ve matured to it, and now we see that winning this thing is a possibility,” added Lilley. “If we get it done, we can be one of nine teams to put our name in the history books for COC.”
But getting it done will require an “everything matters” mentality, said Lilley.
“Every possession, every play we run, everything we do in practice in preparation for the game, starting with today’s practice and the next two days, whatever we do, we just need to be honed in and focused the whole time,” he said.
According to Fisher, the team will head into Saturday’s conference showdown with the same approach it has employed since practices began last fall, coming down to four key components.
“Communication, effort, concentration and execution,” said Fisher. “If we’re able to take care of those four things on the defensive side, and the offensive side, then we put ourselves in a position to succeed, and that’s what we’ve been saying the whole year.”
COC Women’s Basketball Claims Share of WSC South Crown
COC women’s basketball head coach Greg Herrick and the Cougars head into Saturday’s regular-season finale vs. West L.A. having already clinched at least a share of the program’s 16th conference title.
That feat is especially impressive when considering the Cougars opened the year with a 1-5 record and did not reach the .500 mark until Jan. 20.
Canyons (16-10, 7-0) rolled to an 88-60 victory over Bakersfield on Wednesday to win its eighth straight contest and continue its reign at the top of the conference standings.
Morgan Bizzel led the Cougars with 26 points off the bench on a 9-of-18 shooting night. Maryrose Elias and CiCi O’Brien each finished with 11 points to help Canyons to another blowout victory.
COC sophomore Kalana Inemer scored 18 points and pulled down 18 rebounds while further establishing her candidacy for WSC South player of the year honors.
Inemer, who played her freshman year at COC in the 2010-11 season, leads the WSC and ranks fourth in the state, with 13.8 rebounds per game. Her 15.2 points per game is also good for 12th in the conference.
COC has defeated its opponents by an average of 29.5 points during the win streak, while leading the WSC at an average of 76.9 points per game on the season, and 89.6 during conference play. Those numbers also place COC at No. 9 in the state in team scoring.
That scoring proficiency has helped the Cougars remain one game up on West L.A. (21-5, 6-1) heading into Saturday’s finale, having also defeated the Wildcats 75-68 in the first meeting.
The seven-point margin of victory was the narrowest of COC’s win streak, and the only game to be decided by single digits.
By comparison, the Wildcats average 72.7 points each night out and have won 13 of their last 14 games, with COC representing the team’s only loss dating back to Dec. 9
Another win by Canyons would mean an outright conference championship and a return to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus.
COC women’s basketball will tip-off vs West L.A. at 1 p.m. Saturday in Culver City. The men’s game will immediately follow beginning at approximately 3 p.m.