By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
The Cougars posted a pair of victories vs. two familiar foes as College of the Canyons played to a third-place result at the 45th Annual Santa Barbara City College Tournament held Dec. 6-8.
Canyons (6-6) went 2-1 over the weekend with an 88-84 win over first round opponent Oxnard College on Thursday, followed by a 78-65 loss to eventual tourney champion L.A. Trade Tech on Friday. The Cougars then bounced back to down SBCC 86-72 in Saturday’s third place game to get back to the .500 mark
The tournament field also included Bakersfield, College of the Desert, L.A. Valley and Compton College. LATT was crowned tounrye champion.
The Cougars were led by a different high scorer in each of the weekend’s three games, and also received a strong all-around performance from sophomore forward Anthony Simone who averaged 12.3 points and eight rebounds over the three-game span to earn All-Tournament Team honors.
In Thursday’s opener vs. the Condors, COC freshman Zach Phipps shot 8-of-12 from the floor, including 7-of-8 from behind the arc, to net 25 points for the Cougars. Simone and fellow sophomore Jude Agabasi scored 13 and 14 points, respectively, to add fuel to the fire in what was a closely contested game. Will Clark scored 16 points off the bench, Simone led the team with 11 rebounds and Denzel Nwanguma recorded six assists in the winning effort as the Cougars were able to hold on for the four-point victory.
COC had previously beaten Oxnard as part of the annual ‘Clash at Canyons’ tourney on Nov. 3.
Canyons saw four players score in double digits during Friday’s matchup with LATT, but were ultimately unable to overcome a nine-point halftime deficit that swelled to a 13-point loss. This time it was Agabsi who led the way with 15 points, followed by Phipps and Simone with 11 apiece. But the Cougars committed a combined 24 turnovers and shot just over 36 percent from the field and 1-of-18 from downtown in suffering the loss.
COC was vastly improved in its Saturday showdown with host SBCC (2-8) as four starters scored in double figures including a game-high 17 points, 13 assists and six steals from Nwanguma. He also tied for the game-high with eight rebounds, and committed just two turnovers along the way in leading Canyons back to the win column.
Leonard Wilson was next in line with 14 points and eight rebounds, followed by Simone with 13 points and Phipps with 12 of his own. Chris Joo also scored 11 points off the bench and Clark add seven points and eight board while also playing a reserve role.
Canyons led throughout the contest with the Vaqueros only able to tie the game briefly in the early part of the first half. SBCC managed to make things interesting with an 11-2 run that brought the game to 41-39 heading into halftime, but could ultimately get no closer. COC outscored the host Vaqueros 45-33 over the final 20 minutes.
The Cougars shot a combined 46.8 percent in the game and were 8-of-17 from long range. COC also committed just nine turnovers in the game and won the battle on the boards 45-31, including 18 off the offensive glass.
Canyons also defeated SBCC 96-70 back on Nov. 10 in the Cougar Cage.
COC head coach Howard Fisher and the Cougars will play a pair of non-conference road games this week, before closing out 2018 with tournament appearances on Dec. 19-21 at Chaffey College and Dec. 28-29 at the annual Cougar Holiday Classic.
Up next, Canyons will travel to L.A. Harbor on Wednesday, Dec. 12 for a 6 p.m. tip.
Stay up to date on all this season’s action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
— Photo by Jacob Velarde/COC Sports Information