Jags snag playoff spot

Zach Tatar

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The San Jose City College men’s basketball team ended their regular season in two Coast Conference South matchups against West Valley College and De Anza College.

The team traveled to West Valley (10-16, 5-6) to improve their conference record to 10-1 on Wednesday, Feb. 19. They played conference rival De Anza (13-12, 8-4) at home on Saturday, Feb. 22, but came up short in a 58-56 loss.

Entering into the game against West Valley, the Jags were focused on maintaining the defense they had established moving into the top spot in the Coast-South Conference.

They came out strong, holding West Valley’s lead scorer Melek Kanaan, sophomore guard, to only 6 points in the first half.

Andre Russell, sophomore forward, added 10 points and fellow sophomore Rontrell Randell recorded 7 points with 8:41 left in the half.

Russell continued to excel on offensive in the second half, going 9-for-13 from the floor in the second half and finishing with 30 total points.

With 1:32 left in the game from the West Valley bench, the game was essentially over. Freshman guard TJ Viney finished with 10 points, stealing the ball twice to cap off the 87-74 win for SJCC.

The Jaguars then came home to take on long-time conference rival from Cupertino, the Dons of De Anza College battling for home-court advantage in the first round of postseason play.

Freshman forward Maurice Joiner summed up the game in one word, saying it was “emotional.”

Both teams came out with high intensity. Joiner led the Jags with 12 points  and seven rebounds in the final half, but SJCC went into halftime down by nine with the score at 35-29.

For most of the game the officials were not calling many mid-court fouls allowing more scoring opportunities for both teams, and a chance to see which team’s defense would outlast the other.

The second half started out with two offensive turnovers from the Jags, forcing them to call their last two team timeouts with 16:29 left to play. With De Anza College maintaining a consistent 4 point lead, the Jags’ defense took the game down to the wire.

After a two point lay-in recorded by Randell, the Dons, who were up by two with 1:40 left to play, called a timeout.

With 1:35 left in the game and a score of 56-54, SJCC took the ball down court, looking finish the comeback with a nine point deficit.

After Randell made the lay-in, the Jags intercepted the inbound pass from De Anza’s sophomore forward Jack Pasquini with :31 left, putting the play near the home bench’s corner.

Randell became overwhelmed with exhaustion after battling for the ball and throw-up next to the home bench.

Meanwhile the clocked never stopped, allowing De Anza to score two more points and to finish off their win at SJCC.

The Southern California regional playoffs started Tuesday, Feb. 28 and the team traveled north to take on number eight seed Butte College (20-7, 10-0), averaging a total of 75.9 points per game.