Physical defense and extra effort lifted College of the Canyons men’s basketball (6-5) to victory on Tuesday over the visiting West Hills Lemoore Golden Eagles (7-7).
COC was led by sophomore Jimmy Galgano, who tallied up 20 points and six rebounds off the bench.
Canyons has now won two in a row for the first time since its first two games of the season.
The first half was back and forth as neither team could build a comfortable lead.
Golden Eagles forward Isaiah Jones gave his team an early boost from behind the arc. Jones hit three straight triples, doing the heavy lifting on offense for an 11-0 Lemore run. Jones finished with a game-high 21 points.
COC would top that mark with four straight 3-pointers from Galgano.
“I’m feeling great,” said Galgano. “Everyone’s sharing the ball. When we move the ball we play good basketball.”
Galgano’s perimeter shooting would eventually help the Cougars retake the lead. COC was hitting big shots on offense, lifting the team to a 39-32 lead at halftime.
The Golden Eagles would nearly get back in front with some early deep shots including back-to-back triples from guard Kesean Bazlie, who finished with 18 points.
“We did some really good things on the defensive side,” said COC head coach Howard Fisher. “West Hills can score, they can shoot the ball, and we were trying to limit their open looks and even some of their contested ones.”
Canyons would run wild and explode for a 50-point second half starting off with an 11-2 run. COC was all over every rebound and moved fast in transition.
Cougars guard Jacob Gonzalez launched a near-full-court lob to Andrew Henderson for an easy lay-in. Henderson had a big second half as he scored six of his eight points, came up with two big steals and one of his two blocks.
Former Hart standout Dillon Barrientos was also crucial in the second-half momentum swing. Barrientos laid in two transition layups before knocking down a jumper after another COC possession with two offensive rebounds.
Barrientos finished with 17 points, six assists and two steals.
Jonah El-Farra would be the biggest factor in the rebounding department with his second consecutive game with a double-double.
“I’m working out there for my teammates, every game I work for them,” said El-Farra. “I’m trying to help them out and to make sure that we get the win.”
El-Farra racked up 14 points, 10 boards and three assists.
The Cougars kept their foot on the gas and coasted to a double-digit win. Fisher was pleased with his team’s poise whether they were down in the first half or up big in the second.
“That was a big improvement,” said Fisher. “We’ve talked about trying to put 40 minutes of basketball together and I think tonight might have been the first time.”
Canyons is now back over .500 on the season and will have a chance to post a three-game win streak on Thursday when the team takes on a struggling Pierce squad (0-14). Fisher knows not to take anyone for granted as Canyons looks for another hard-fought win.
“Every day we come in practice and we play hard,” said Galgano. “We push each other to become the best that we could be. And if someone’s looking sloppy, we pick them up and just push each other so we compete at a high level.”
COC will return home for the Cougar Holiday Classic at Canyons on Tuesday. The Cougars will open up the tourney with a 2 p.m. matchup with Mt. San Antonio College (6-6).