COC unveils new gym with double-header

College of the Canyons players Malia Seana (15) and Danny Diaz (24) run the ball down the new court and over the new logo against Santa Monica College at COC on Saturday, January 11, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal

College of the Canyons basketball unveiled its newly renovated basketball court Saturday night as both the women’s and men’s team took on Santa Monica for the Cougars’ home opener 2.0.

“I think there was some excitement to have our first true home game this year,” said Howard Fisher, head coach of the men’s basketball team. “The venue itself looked spectacular. It’s not quite complete but the floor looked great.”

Greg Herrick, the 28-year head coach of the women’s basketball team, felt the same, but took the unveiling more to heart. 

“I walked in and got goosebumps,” he said. “To me, it was like going home. You’ve been on the road for a long time and you come into the confines of your place. It was like that for me because I’ve been here for so long.”

Both teams had a long road stretch to start the 2019-20 campaign. Each team had faux-home games – the men with four and the women with one – but playing at The Master’s University didn’t provide much of a home court advantage because neither team practices there. Neither team got an opportunity to practice on the new court until three days before their game.

Construction on the court began in February 2019. Renovations include new bleachers, new flooring, the walls were repainted, the ceilings were redone, and new doors were fitted.

Additionally, renovations were made to the entire West P.E. Gymnasium. COC refitted the plumbing fixtures, refinished the terrazzo floors and wall, replaced the lighting and added new classrooms to the building. The offices were also updated.

The night started at 5 p.m. The women’s team took the court and had a spectacular first half as usual. A strong defensive first quarter allowed the Cougars to lead the Corsairs 37-21 at the end of the first half.

Unfortunately, the lead came with the loss of sophomore guard Krystal Amato. She tore her ACL early in the first quarter.

The Cougar offense slowed down in the second half. However, they managed to stay tough and christen the new gymnasium with a 66-65 thrilling victory over Santa Monica. Diamyn Davis led the charge for the Cougars with a double-double, earning 18 points and 15 rebounds.

The Cougars had two other double-digit scorers in their true home opener. McKenzie Stoehr scored 10 points and Angelica Oliveros scored 14 points off the bench. Danny Diaz proved just as effective inside as Davis, grabbing 15 boards as well.

We’re glad to be home, it’s just easier for everybody,” Herrick said. “You’re in a better comfort zone when you’re at home. There’s familiarity that you get when you’re at home.”

The men’s team trotted out onto the hardwood at 7:00 p.m. A rough start to the game finished in a rough ending as they picked up their second straight loss in a 75-69 defeat.

Despite a rough ending for the Cougars, the team played well. Christopher Bradford led the team with a double-double for himself. The freshman scored 19 points for the Cougars and came down with 10 rebounds and five assists.

Zach Phipps and Jordan Nash were also able to make an impact on offense. They scored 18 points and 12 points, respectively.

“I think every time we step on the floor, we want to give out best effort,” Fisher said. “I think we did, (we) just came up short.”

Although both teams have competed in the new gym, the renovations are not finished yet, according to Herrick. Some of the routines for a COC home game did not run as smoothly with the sound system being figured out and the new American flag not hung up yet.

Both teams return to the new court on Saturday to host Glendale. The women take them on at 5 p.m. in a battle for first in the conference. The men will follow at 7 p.m.

Before returning home, both teams have a road trip to LA Valley on Wednesday. Once again, the women will play at 5 p.m. and the men immediately after at 7 p.m.

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