No. 14 Giants topple No. 3 Ventura for 5th straight men's basketball win

No. 14 Giants topple No. 3 Ventura for 5th straight men's basketball win

By Nick Giannandrea

COS ATHLETICS

The College of the Sequoias men's basketball team is in line for a significant jump in the next California Community College Men's Basketball Coaches' Association rankings.

At least that's what beating four ranked teams in the span of 10 days should do for the No. 14 Giants.

Sequoias' latest conquest following victories over No. 5 West Los Angeles, No. 15 Southwest L.A. and No. 7 San Diego City last weekend at the Fullerton Tournament?

A 93-57 drubbing of No. 3 Ventura on Dec. 18 in the finale of the Wyndham/Mannon Classic at Porter Field House.

Ventura entered the Wyndham/Mannon Classic 12-0 before losing 74-73 to No. 4 Columbia (11-0) on Dec. 17 in the event's first game.

"Ventura is a really good team," Giants coach Dallas Jensen said. "They are going to win a ton of games, and they could beat us on any given night. I just thought our guys were a little bit better tonight."

They certainly were.

Sequoias (10-2) scored the game's first 11 points punctuated by a jumper from Scott Ator (Texas), led by 21 points (28-7) on a layup by Terri Miller (Clovis North High) with 9:03 left in the first half, and built the game's biggest lead at 44 points (69-25) on a basket by Bryce Fitzgerald (Las Vegas) with 15:22 remaining in the second half.

"We started off really good," said Ator, who finished with 11 points, six assists, five rebounds, three blocks and a steal. "We played a lot of team defense, playing team ball. Our tempo was great on offense. I really felt we played as a team, and Ventura couldn't handle that."

The Giants received double-figure scoring from five players, including game-leading totals of 19 points from Connor Jackson (Dubin) and Ryan Johnson (Hanford). Jackson also contributed three rebounds and three assists, while Johnson added eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.

Also reaching double figure scoring were Fitzgerald and Seth Dawson (Antioch), who each dropped 12 points.

Sequoias also received five points and eight rebounds from Ryan Troutman (Kerman), and seven points and seven rebounds from Miller.

 

"Our energy and efficiency was really good in the first half," Jensen said. "I thought our guys played as a collective unit on both ends of the floor. And we relied again on our physicality. I think we're really starting to establish an identity of who we are on both ends. We're just trying to play COS Giants brand basketball." 

The Giants were particularly hot in the first half against Ventura, shooting 64.5 percent (20 of 31) from the field, including 46.2 percent (6 of 13) on 3-pointers. That allowed Sequoias to go into the locker room at halftime with a 58-20 lead.

"We're very confident in our abilities, what we can do on the court and how we can play against top level teams," Ator said. "We were maybe not expecting this outcome, but we were definitely expecting a 'W' tonight, and that's what made that happen."

The Giants opened the Wyndham/Mannon Classic on Dec. 17 with a 105-45 thumping of L.A. Trade Tech (1-11).

Sequoias shot 61.5 percent (24 of 39) from the field and 50 percent (7 of 14) on 3-pointers while building a 56-18 first-half lead, and never looked back.

Fitzgerald and Johnson paced six Giants in double-figure scoring with 17 points apiece.

Jackson scored 15 points, Andre Treadwell (Sacramento) had 11, and Tiveon Stroud (Selma) and Miller added 10 points each.

Stroud and Troutman led Sequoias in rebounding with six apiece, while Dawson, Miller and Mohammed Adam (Monterey) all contributed a team-best five assists.

"I think the boys are really buying-in to what we're trying to do on both ends," Jensen said. "I'm proud of the whole group and how they are playing. And the fact they are trusting in what we're trying to do as a coaching staff."

Sequoias has won five straight since an 80-66 loss at No. 2 San Francisco on Dec. 5 in a game it led 39-36 at halftime. 

The Giants only other loss came in their season opener at home against Palo Verde on Nov. 4 when they allowed a 42-26 first-half lead evaporate into a 68-59 defeat.

"We've developed tremendously over the year, through our first game until now," Ator said. "We're looking pretty solid. We're not exactly where we need to be and where we want to be, but we're moving in the right direction with every practice and every game."

The Giants return to action Dec. 30-31 at the Clete Adelman Crossover in Oceanside.

Sequoias opens against host Mira Costa (5-7) at 6 p.m. Dec. 30, then faces Antelope Valley (7-4) at noon Dec. 30.

The Giants will then be off until opening Central Valley Conference play at 6 p.m. Jan. 5 at West Hills-Coalinga (5-8).

Sequoias next home game is set for 5 p.m. Jan. 12 against Merced (2-11) in the opener or a doubleheader with the women's team, which faces the Blue Devils (6-7) at 7 p.m.