A season’s worth of talent, character and chemistry has given the Orange Coast College (21-7) men’s basketball team its most successful season in nearly 40 years.
OCC will contend for a spot in the California Community College Athletic Association Men's Basketball State Championship tournament on Saturday away from home against Citrus College (27-4) to keep their 12-game win streak and state championship hopes alive.
“[Citrus] have a very good shooting team. We are going to have to close out and get rebounds because they put a lot of pressure on you with their ability to score,” head coach Steve Spencer said.
Although their opponents in this weekend’s Southern California Regional Final pose a colossal three-point shooting threat, the Pirates are level with Citrus in size and talent on all areas of the court.
They may be unfamiliar with the big stage, but winning their first Orange Empire Conference Championship in the midst of one of their most defiant seasons since 1979 has proved the Pirates have no fear in taking on the best of the best.
A testament to their skill and athleticism, freshman center Joshua Davis and sophomore forwards Kupaa Harrison earned co-OEC MVP honors this season.
Davis boasts a team high 62 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.”
Admission to the Citrus College gymnasium is $12 for adults and $8 for students, seniors and children under 12. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.