By Ryan Foote – Cougar News Staff Writer
The College of the Canyons Men’s Basketball team (13-14, 5-6) season ended on Saturday after losing to No. 3 Citrus College (25-2, 11-0) 73-66.
With the victory Citrus won their second consecutive Western State Conference title and completed conference play undefeated. The Owls now wait for the start of the regional playoffs.
The Cougars, however, did not make the playoffs ending their season Saturday.
It was a competitive game late, but early on Citrus played like the reigning conference champions establishing a 20 point lead with three minutes left in the first half.
Citrus was able to build the early lead by outrebounding and out shooting the Cougars from behind the arc. Citrus shot 7-12 from 3-point territory in the first half, Jose Rivera making 3 of them.
The Owls post players were dominant in the first half. Forward Keith Thompson had four offensive boards and back up big man Tom Granado had five first half rebounds. By the end of the first half, Citrus outrebounded COC 27-15.
Even with the strong play of point guard Brian Kimble, the Cougars trailed 39-25 at the end of the first half. Kimble led all scorers with 11 points.
“We came out slow, and didn’t cover their shooters well in the first half” said Cougars head coach Howard Fisher.
The Cougars started the second half strong and were able to cut the lead down to eight in less than three minutes. Leading the team early in the second half was Brannon Bradley, scoring 11 of his game high 18 points in the second half.
Leading them late was swingman Rasheem Harris. After nailing a three pointer on the game’s opening possession, Harris got into foul trouble and did not score the rest of the first half only playing two minutes.
“I couldn’t keep him on the court, but when he was out there, he played great” said Fisher.
The second half was a different story for Harris. He continually got into the lane and was able to knock down key jumpers. Harris ended the game with 16 points.
The Cougars made the game interesting, especially after Harris made a jumper with 54 seconds remaining cutting the score to 68-64.
That was the closest the Cougars came to upsetting the reigning champions. Citrus was able to make free throws and wrap the game up with a final score of 73-66.
Brannon Bradley led all players with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Brian Kimble and Rasheem Harris each scored 16. Jose Rivera led Citrus with 12 points going 4-6 on three point field goals.
This was the final game as Cougars for Brian Kimble and Brannon Bradley, the only two sophomores on the team. Both players received honors before the game and were joined by their families at center court.
Fisher commented after the game on the play and careers of his two sophomores.
“I told them to leave everything out on the court and end it the right way. I could not be more proud of them.”
Also ending his career on Saturday was longtime COC football and basketball announcer Roger Getlin.
“It has been an honor and pleasure. I was allowed to do what I loved and do it my own way and it was just a supreme pleasure doing it all these years. It’s someone else’s turn now” said Getlin at halftime.
The Cougars were a young team with not a lot of expectations but were able to finish the season close to the .500 mark and were competitive in all games, an accomplishment that their head coach was proud of.
“They’re a freshman team but they learned how to compete on a nightly basis.”
This season is over, but the players that decide to return do not have long to think about it. The program does not waste any time getting ready for next season. Offseason conditioning starts in less than two weeks.