The Columbia College Claim Jumpers, two nights after their best win in many years at the 76th Modesto Junior College Tournament, walked into MJC Gym with confidence.
Sacramento City carved away at that confidence, shot by shot and play by play, for a well-deserved 75-54 win Thursday night. The Panthers have reached the MJC semifinals for the first time in Andrew Jones’ 14-year term as coach.
Columbia (6-5) netted an amazing 16 point baskets – five in a row at the end of regulation – and shocked 4th-ranked Yuba in overtime Tuesday. Predictably, a quicker Sacramento team (5-4) denied the Claim Jumpers many of those comfortable shots from the perimeter.
The result was only four Columbia triples, an icy two after the opening minutes.
“They came out a litttle more focused than us. We can’t just turn it on like a switch,” Columbia first-year coach Rob Hoyt said. “We expected some of that (defense from Sacramento). We did have a lot of good looks in the first half. They weren’t going down. It deflated our energy.”
Columbia repelled Sac’s first 10-point lead and rallied to within 24-22. Sac responded, however, with a 14-0 blitz bridging the first and second halves. Sacramento solved the Claim Jumpers’ defense with 6-foot-5 forward Bobby Barnes (20 points) and 6-2 Antwoine Davis (14), who worked smoothly in the key against taller foes.
The Panthers’ balanced attack assumed control. Their lead reached 20 points midway through the second half, and Columbia never got closer than 12.
Tige Wingo, Columbia’s strong 6-5 freshman from Summerville High’s championship team, challenged Sac in the second half and finished with 16 points. Also with 16 was 6-4 freshman Rafe King.
“We’ve had a hard time putting together back-to-back games,” Wingo said. “It wasn’t overconfidence, but we definitely weren’t focused. It’s hard to explain why.”
Meanwhile, the Panthers approach a major test tonight against Fresno, winner of five MJC titles since 2006. More important, the Rams carry a 7-game winning streak.
“You want to have quickness against Fresno, but they press even after misses, and they are ridiculously patient with their half-court offense,” Jones said. “They’re also deeper than us. ”
See page C-2 for today’s six-game program beginning at 10 a.m. with Shasta vs. Modesto in the consolation bracket.
• FRESNO 61, CUESTA 52 – Fresno (10-1), ranked No. 2 in California, protected a 5-point lead down the stretch to turn back the stubborn Cougars from San Luis Obispo (5-4). Cuesta erased an early 10-deficit but – beset by 18 of 53 shooting – never overtook the Rams.
Terrance Wienecke of Fresno led all scorers with 12 points. Oscar Pedroso and Alejandro Jorda had nine points apiece for Cuesta. Tayler Thompson of Sonora chipped in with two points for the Cougars.
• CONTRA COSTA 82, MENDOCINO 62 – The Comets from San Pablo (3-4), a late entry only a few weeks ago, sprinted into the semifinals. Quicksilver guards Davion Mize (20 points) and Kennon Noble (16) sliced through the Mendocino defense for layups.
The Eagles (2-5) cut a double-digit deficit to only five points in the second half before Contra Costa countered. Nate Henry topped Mendocino with 21 points and Christopher Ketter had 17.
• LASSEN 63, YUBA 61 – Lassen of Susanville (6-5), an MJC finalist last year, held on for the win as Yuba (4-3) made a surprising 0-and-2 exit. Marvin White led the Cougars with 14 points, featuring a 3-pointer with 13.3 seconds left for a 63-59 lead. Chris Smith netted 11 of 12 free throws en route to 20 points for Yuba. Smith intentionally rimmed a free throw with .3 left, but the carom didn’t allow for an attempted tip-in by the 49ers.
• SHASTA 72, REEDLEY 70 – Robert Duong’s fall-away 10-footer with 11.1 seconds left, after two clutch offensive rebounds by Shasta, kept the Knights from Redding (2-7) in the tournament. Andre Frazier and Walter Orr keyed a rally by Reedley (3-5) in the second half and had 18 points apiece.
• SISKIYOUS 72, DeANZA 68 – Siskiyous (7-3) nursed a 6-point lead through the final three minutes, though the Eagles from Weed didn’t clinch it until Erick Diggs (21 points) hit two free throws with 3.4 seconds to go. Shaquille Gilbert topped De Anza (2-5) with 16 points, including 10 of 12 free throws. Lavar Moore of Siskiyous has 51 points in two tournament games.