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Citrus College Clarion ccclarion.com

Editor: David Tate clarionEIC@ccclarion.com

SPORTS

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

11

Fighting Owls find old swag Men’s basketball returns to its winning ways in a hostile road environment. David Tate

Clarion Editor-in-Chief

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fter already surpassing last season’s loss total, the Owls men’s basketball team seems to have recaptured some of the magic from the program’s 2011-12 Final Four run. Despite an early 17-point deficit, an abundance of turnovers and abysmal outside shooting, the Owls (5-4) pulled out a 90-81 comeback road win over the El Camino College Compton Center Tartars (4-2) Nov. 28. Citrus looked sluggish and lethargic in the beginning of the first half. The Tartars utilized an effective combination of full-court press and zone defense to stymie the Owls, racing out to a 20-8 lead. Tartar guard Christopher Miller was then the beneficiary of backto-back Darius Middleton turnovers, knocking down a corner 3 and a fastbreak layup to extend his team’s lead to 25-8 at the 12:02 mark, prompting a timeout from Citrus head coach Chris Victor. “They came out and played great,” Victor said. “We were not ready, obviously.” Inexplicably, the Tartars decided to abandon the press and settle into a defensive shell for the

last 10 minutes of the half. Though it didn’t have much effect on the Owls’ perimeter shooting—they finished 3-for-20 from 3-point land on the night—the athletic Citrus guards quickly took advantage, effectively using isolation plays to knife through the 2-3 for easy buckets at the rim to whittle the Tartar halftime lead to 42-40. “We got away from the gameplan a little bit,” said ECC Compton head coach Kevin Higgins. “I thought the pressure we had on them was working, and we made them speed up . . . Sometimes, you get a little success and you forget how you got it. We became passive instead of aggressive, and [Citrus] is really, really good when you’re passive.” After the break, the Owls emerged from their locker room much more energized they did in the opening stanza. Sophomore center Brent Watkins, who finished with 14 points on a perfect 7-of-7 from the field, tied the game up with a short lay-in on the Owls’ first possession following the intermission. That bucket eventually led to Citrus forward Steven Thorton Jr. completing an and-1 opportunity to give the Owls a 53-51 lead just before the 5-minute-mark of

the half. Thorton Jr. finished with a game-high 23 points, with the hoop and harm giving Citrus their first lead of the game. “[Steve’s] got a lot of tools and he’s been playing a lot more comfortably lately,” Victor said. “He’s still getting used to the system and the program, so as he gets more comfortable, he’s going to be great.” Thorton Jr. would go on to put the game away for Citrus when he pulled down two offensive boards off his own misses, padding his rebound total to a team-high 9 before making good on the third attempt, giving the Owls an 84-76 lead with 3:02 remaining. “We couldn’t shoot at all,” Thorton Jr. said. “But we figured it out, got by [the ECC defenders], and everybody was finishing well.” “[We’re] going to get back in the gym, shoot a little more, and try to be more composed next time,” Citrus is scheduled to play in the opening game of the four-day Riverside Community College Tournament today.

David Tate can be contacted at clarionEIC@ccclarion.com or (626) 914-8586.

Third year guard is vocal leader On the men’s basketball team, #3 is anything but a charm for opponents. Javier Galavíz Staff Writer

“Go Kerry, Go, Go, Go…” screamed an Owl team mom from the stands of a men’s basketball game. “See. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about,” she said as she nudged me to check out Kerry Carter’s excellent defensive hustle for a loose ball during a recent game. Seems normal enough, but what’s interesting about this scenario is the fact that this isn’t Carter’s mom. The mom, who chose to stay anonymous for the fact that her son was “not playing very well [that night],” credits the team’s success and first half comeback during that particular game, to the leadership and aggressive nature of #3’s game. “I really like his play,” she said. “Boy, can he jump.” A West Covina High School graduate, Citrus College sophomore Carter plays guard for the

Javier Galavíz Citrus College Clarion

Sophomore Guard Kerry Carter (#3) awaits an inbounds pass. Owls men’s basketball team. Carter, who’s a third year team member, is Citrus’ third leading scorer and leads the team in steals. This is perhaps the basis for the praise paid to him by head coach Chris Victor. “Kerry means a lot to this team. He’s a great defender and very talented on offense, but above all else, the intangibles are what set him apart,” said Victor. Those skills being his toughness and leadership. Carter’s success should be attributed to his winning spirit. “Winning is a state of mind that never rests… There are no breaks and no time off,” Carter has said. Carter has been team captain for both of the seasons that he’s played. What does Kerry like most about the Citrus basketball program? “The attention to detail,” he said. He is well aware of the importance of his team and says that “no one man is unbeatable but together we can become unbeatable.” Carter’s qualities have an effect

on most of his team. Similar to Carter’s start on the team, current red-shirt freshmen, Jordan Jefferson and Darrick Arnold now relish the opportunity to learn from him. “He knows how to keep everyone together,” Jefferson said. “He’s a great vocal leader.” In his final year playing for Citrus, Carter will undoubtedly strive to make the most of his time here. For his final two years of eligibility, Carter has verbally committed to play for the Cal State Fullerton Titans. The next chance to check out Carter’s inspiring play, as well as the rest of the men’s basketball squad, will be at the Riverside Holiday Basketball Tournament, from Dec. 4 through Dec. 8 at Riverside City College’s Wheelock Gym.

Javier Galavíz can be contacted at jgalaviz@ccclarion.com.

Javier Galavíz Citrus College Clarion

Sophomore Guard Jordan Mackie (#10) inbounds the ball during the Owls’ 90-81 win over El Camino Compton Center Nov. 28.


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