Junior college basketball: Canada reaches final four for first time since 1994
Daily News Staff Writer
What a difference a year makes.
The men's basketball team at Canada College didn't even sniff the playoffs during a five-win season in 2013-14. Now the Colts find themselves in the four-team state community college championships.
"It's something else," said second-year coach Mike Reynoso said. "It's an exciting time."
It's the first trip since 1994 to the final four for Canada (24-6), which was seeded ninth in the NorCal Regional and needed three road victories to extend its season.
"I think we actually like being on the road," Reynoso said. "That's something that our team has thrived on throughout the season, just being tested on the road and that atmosphere where everybody is rooting against us."
The latest victory came Saturday night at No. 3 Marin, which trailed by 17 points during the send half before chipping away at the deficit.
"It was intense," Reynoso said. "It was so much energy, so much just passion involved in the game from both sides."
Free throws down the stretch by sophomores Kenny Hatch and Rohndell Goodwin helped Canada cling to its lead.
Goodwin came down with a key rebound with 3.8 seconds left and converted both free throws to finish with a game-high 24 points off the bench."We definitely rushed the court," Reynoso said. "I ran and jumped on Rohndell Goodwin. Our other assistant Jason Hardee went and hugged Manny Martin and everybody was kind of getting in together, excited before we went in line and shook their hands."
The Colts take on Saddleback (31-2), the No. 1 seed out of the south, in Friday's semifinals at 7 p.m. All games will be hosted by Cerritos College in Norwalk with the championship game Sunday at 1 p.m.
The semifinal will provide a contrast in styles, as Canada features the No. 4 offense in the state at 83.9 points per game, while Saddleback ranks second in fewest points allowed at 56.2.
"I expect a good team regardless at this point," said Reynoso, who in a brief scouting report noted Saddleback features a big post presence.
"He's going to have to run with us and we're going to have to bang with him inside. I think it's going to be an old-fashioned matchup. It's going to be blow for blow, and whoever makes the most runs and keeps their composure will come out the winner."Freshman guard Crisshawn Clark finished with 15 points and nine rebounds against Marin, while power forward Manny Martin had 13 points and nine boards. Hatch scored 12.
"They went to a zone and we hit 3's, they overplayed us on the perimeter and we drove by them, we pounded it inside, we rebounded, hit free throws," said Reynoso, whose team overcame 25 turnovers. "We just played a complete game and we took care of the ball until the last seven minutes."
In the opposite side of the bracket, No. 17 Foothill fell 62-50 to No. 5 Merritt in Oakland. The Owls, who upset the No. 1 seed the previous weekend, finish the season with a 15-17 record.