The Orange Coast College men’s basketball team continues its historic run with an 80-77 win over Citrus College, with hopes of earning its second state title in one of its most successful seasons in nearly 40 years.
Since its last state title in 1979, OCC has endured its fair share of underwhelming seasons. They barely mustered an 8-19 record in 2017, but boast 22 wins and counting this campaign.
Although Citrus, in Saturday’s Southern California Regional Final, posed a colossal three-point shooting threat, the Pirates out-defended and rebounded their opponents, fulfilling head coach Steve Spencer’s game plan.
Coast proved its worth on the biggest stage. Winning their first Orange Empire Conference Championship since 1979 in the midst of one of their most defiant seasons aided in its preparation for the California Community College Athletic Association Men’s Basketball State Championship Tournament on Friday.
A testament to their talent and athleticism, freshman center Joshua Davis and sophomore forward Kupaa Harrison earned co-OEC MVP honors for the regular season.
Davis boasts a team high 61.9 field goal percentage while Harrison has played the most minutes, averaging 15.6 points per game.
Sophomore guard Jumoke Walker was named OEC Defensive Player of the Year and Spencer earned OEC Coach of the Year.
“That’s a players award really,” Spencer said. “The players are the one’s playing the game. The assistant coaches and the trainers are the ones helping out. Without the other guys on the team, there’s no coach of the year for any coach.”
Spencer’s player-first philosophy has played a huge part in the team’s success, taking into account his players’ issues outside of the gym for the betterment of his team.
“It’s really a human development gig,” Spencer said. “Through basketball being the motivating force, we are trying to help them with their life skills.”
The Pirates travel to Ventura College to play Fresno City College (27-4) in the quarterfinals of an eight-team tournament on Friday at 5 p.m.
Friday’s winners will face-off on Saturday, with the final two teams competing for the state championship trophy on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.