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2002-03 Season Superlatives

The 2002-03 JC Basketball season is now in the books! LA City won the state championship with a 35-2 record, and LACC's Tyrone Riley shared state Player of the Year honors with Oxnard's Jeremiah Massey and Fresno' Tyrone Jackson.

During the season I managed to see a total of 62 games - a new record for me! Most of that was in Southern California, but I got to a couple of tournaments and a pair of premier Coast Conference matchups up North.

In any case, here's the best and the brightest from the 2002-03 season... All-State Team:

PG-William Funn, San Bernardino Valley
SG-Sidney Melvin, Antelope Valley
SF-Marques Crane, Saddleback
PF-Tyrone Riley, LA City
C-Jeremiah Massey, Oxnard

PG-Franco Harris, Diablo Valley
SG-Anthony Shavies, Chabot
SF-Tyrone Jackson, Fresno
PF-Robert Franklin, Lassen
C-Chris Adams, San Francisco All-Defense Team (South Region only):

PG-Rashien Little, Ventura
SG-Damon Knight, Mt. San Antonio
SF-Eric Norcross, Santa Monica
PF-Midwin Francis, LA Valley
C-Joakim Kjellbom, Irvine Valley

Most points, team: 105 - Oxnard, 12/29 vs. Big Bend (WA)
Fewest points allowed: 40 - San Jose, 12/22 vs. Solano
Largest margin of victory: 39 - Redwoods (90) vs. Los Medanos (51), 12/21
Most points, player: 38 - Robert Franklin, Lassen, 12/22 vs. Merced
Most rebounds, player: 19 - Jeremiah Massey, Oxnard, 12/13 vs. Saddleback
Most assists, player: 11 - Thomas Caveness, Oxnard, 12/29 vs Big Bend (WA)
and...............................11 - John Clemmons, El Camino, 12/28 vs. Mt. SAC
Most blocked shots, player: 6 - Antonio Griffin, Mt. San Jacinto, 12/8 vs. Mira Costa
and................................6 - Raheem Jones, Ventura, 1/9 vs. Moorpark
Most 3-point FG, player: 8 - Tyree Gardner, Diablo Valley, 12/22 vs. SJ Delta
and..................................8 - Sean Terrell, LA Southwest, 1/19 vs. LA City
Most steals, player: 7 - William Funn, San Bernardino Valley, 1/11 vs. Barstow
and................................7 - Marko Mihailovic, Santa Monica, 3/5 vs. Antelope Valley
Most blocks, team: 15 - Ventura, 2/22 vs. Oxnard
................................13 - Ventura, 1/9 vs. Moorpark

Best Team: Los Angeles City.

Now that they've won the state championship, I can safely say that they're not only the best team in California this year but also the best I've seen since I began following California Community College basketball in 1994-95.

Best Player: Jeremiah Massey, Oxnard.

He averaged 28.6 pts and 11.1 rebs per game the 7 times I saw him play this season, which was only typical since he led California in both scoring and rebounding. He was the most dominant and productive player I've ever seen in California JC ball. In the 14 times I saw him over his 2 years at Oxnard, he got 20+ points 13 times, 10+ rebounds 12 times and BOTH 11 of the 14 games.

Best Game: Barstow 83, San Bernardino Valley 81, 1/11

This one was an intense conference rivalry that was decided on free throws in the final minute. SBVC led early, 34-29, before Jay Sherrod led Barstow on a 22-11 run to finish the first half and give the Vikings a 51-40 lead at intermission. Barstow still led well into the second half, and when SBVC's best player, Blake Walker, fouled out with just under 6 minutes left (and Barstow still ahead, 78-70) it looked bad for the home squad. But a couple of threes by Damio Ware and another by Roc Cameron allowed SBVC to take an 80-78 lead. Then a 3-pointer by Sherrod put Barstow back ahead, 81-80. A FT by Funn even things at 81, but he missed the second FTA so the score stayed tied with 1:21 to play. Then neither team scored for over a minute. As the clock wound down (with the score tied at 81) SBVC's Roberto Stukes fouled Barstow's Edmound Elzy going for a steal; Elzy calmly knocked down both FTs to give his team an 83-81 lead with 9.6 seconds left. But SBVC had their chances - a driving layup by William Funn bounced off the rim but into the hands of Preston Norman in the final seconds, but his putback attempt rimmed out, giving Barstow the win. Elzy finished with 27 pts for Barstow; Funn had 20 pts, 6 asts and 7 steals for SBVC.

Best Comeback: Palomar 79, Long Beach 72, 12/29

It was the third-place game at the COC Holiday Tourney, and heavily-favored Long Beach held a 37-26 lead at the half. But Palomar shot 78% from the floor to take a 10-point lead, and held off a late LBCC rally for the win. Jordan Feramisco finished with 24 points to lead Palomar, who turned their entire season around at the COC Tourney. They entered the weekend 1-9 but ended up going 14-15 and claiming a share of the PCC title.

Best Comeback that fell just short: Santa Monica 80 vs. Antelope Valley 77, 3/5.

In the second round of the playoffs, visiting Santa Monica led a 75-63 lead with under a minute to play. Then Mike Webb started shooting threes, and the Marauders nearly pulled out the most unlikely of comebacks. Webb ended up scoring his team's final 14 points - all in the final minute - and a potential game-tying three with 16 seconds left bounced off the rim, allowing Santa Monica to escape with the win.

Best game, player, North: Marcus Price, Redwoods, 12/21 vs. Los Medanos.

Price finished with 32 points (on 13/22 FGs) including 6 3-pointers, grabbed 12 rebounds, dished out 6 assists and grabbed 5 steals in his team's 90-51 win. All those totals were not just team-bests, but game-bests. And it was undoubtedly a season highlight for the Redwoods, who entered the game 4-12 and finished 7-24.

Best game, player, South: DeJuan Stevens, West LA, 1/23 vs. Citrus

Stevens scored 32 points on 13/17 shooting (3 threes), grabbed 7 rebounds, dished out 4 assists and grabbed 5 steals to lead the visiting Oilers to a 76-70 win over then-#6 (South) Citrus.

Best game, player, South, in a losing cause: Marques Crane, Saddleback, 2/8 vs. LA City.

The Gauchos lost the game by a dozen points, but Crane had a game to remember. He finished with 34 points (including 7 threes) on 12/15 shooting, and kept Saddleback as close as he could for as long as he could.

Best game, player, North, in a losing cause: Jerome Davis, Merced, 12/22 vs. Lassen

It's hard to be better than perfect, and Davis was perfect from the floor for the Blue Devils. He went 12/12 from the floor, finishing with 27 points (though he was overshadowed a bit by Lassen's Robert Franklin, who scored 38 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the Cougars' 90-81 win).

Best games by position:

PG-Jerel Blassingame, LA City, 3/15 vs. Saddleback (28 pts in the state semifinal, and his excellent shooting kept the Cubs in the game during a lackluster first half).
SG-DeJuan Stevens, West LA, 1/23 vs. Citrus (see above)
SF-Marcus Price, Redwoods, 12/21 vs. Los Medanos (see above)
PF-Robert Franklin, Lassen, 12/22 vs. Merced (38 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists in Lassen's 90-81 win in the third-place game at the Delta Holiday tourney)
Ctr-Jeremiah Massey, Oxnard. You could choose any one of several games here, but two stand out. In a December win over Saddleback in the finals of the SBCC Tourney, Massey had 27 points and 19 rebounds, plus he held Saddleback's Andre Hardwick to 12 and 10 before fouling out with 5:52 left. But for sheer numbers, his game vs. Canyons in the playoffs is hard to beat: 36 points (14/21 FGs), 12 rebounds and 5 assists - all team highs - in Oxnard's 96-74 win.

And now...various "awards" and stuff...

From Last to First: Mark Felder, Glendale
In an early-season game, Mark was the last sub in off the bench for Glendale, regisitering 3 rebounds and no points in extremely limited action vs. Rio Hondo. But by mid-season, he was the focal point of the Vaquero offense and one of the top post players in the league. He had 22 pts vs. Citrus and 31 pts vs. West LA, and garnered All-Conference honors for the WSC-South.

Angry Coach Award: Jorge Calienes, East LA
Having already received one technical foul, Coach Calienes was limited in how much he could argue about what he felt was questionable officiating in East LA's loss at Citrus. So he tried another approach - he had his players foul Citrus players repeatedly in the final 3 minutes, long after the outcome of the game had been decided. The last 3 minutes took about half an hour to play, and Citrus ended up shooting 71 free throws (making 52) in the game. And the Owls won, 102-85. Jason Davis (28 pts incl 18/20 FTs) and Ralph Steele (26 pts incl 17/19 FTs) were the primary beneficiaries and took full advantage of the opportunity to pad their scoring stats.

Preview of Coming Attractions: West LA 80, Fullerton 71.
When the Oilers won this early-season tilt, it looked like a bit of an upset and perhaps a function of Fullerton being a little dinged up physically. Instead, it was a preview of what was a very solid West Los Angeles team, which would finish 21-14 and be the #10 seed in the Southern California playoffs. Fullerton had a fine season as well, finishing 18-15 and grabbing the #21 seed in the playoffs.

Bad Duplication Award: Santa Monica, 12/8.
The Corsairs shot a miserable 32.1% from the field vs. Canyons on 9 for 28 in the 3rd-place game of the AVC Tourney. Then they proved it was no fluke, by shooting an identical 9-28 in the second half. And yes, they lost, 56-51.

Thanks, now go away: Jamaal Lee, Canyons.
In that game vs. Santa Monica, Canyons got a huge game off the bench from reserve forward Jamaal Lee. He was the last sub in off the bench, but contributed team-highs of 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Cougars in their 56-51 win. But then 2 days later in a home game vs. Oxnard, Lee watched the entire game from the end of the bench; he didn't see even a second of playing time. By midseason, he was no longer with the team.

Best Game that sorta didn't count: Victor Valley 101, West Hills 98
It was scheduled as a semifinal in the Santa Barbara tourney, and it was a wide-open and quite competitive affair. A little too competitive as it turned out. In the waning seconds, West Hills' Daniyal Faquir fouled VVC's Joe Anderson hard, knocking him into the scorers' table. A scuffle ensued with players on both benches entering the fray. Victor Valley held on for the win (and yes, it did count), but both teams were disqualified from the tournament and assessed a forfeit loss for the following day's games that never happened.

Most even matchup: Golden West vs. Cypress, 1/10.
Following the game, both teams sported identical 5-12 records, and each team finished 7-22 on the season. Visiting Golden West won this matchup, 80-73.

Bent Rim Award: Orange Coast, 1/15 vs. IVC.
In their 66-51 loss at Irvine Valley, Orange Coast College shot an unbelievably bad 23.9% from the floor (16 or 67). Frustration, perhaps at their poor shooting, boiled over as the Pirates accumulated 3 technical fouls, one intentional foul and a stunning total of 5 players having fouled out.

Better Late Than Never Award: Everett Bryson, Canyons, 2/6.
In Canyons' game vs. Glendale, forward Everett Bryson was benched for the entire first half. But once he got in there, he was dominant, racking up totals of 18 points and 10 rebounds (a team high), all in the second half. Bryson's efforts allowed COC to overcome a 32-22 halftime deficit and claim a 73-66 win over the visiting Vaqueros.

Best Backcourt, single game: Moorpark, 2/13.
In their game vs. Cuesta, Moorpark's backcourt duo of PG Johnny Gray and SG Anish Sharda combined for 34 points (on 11/19 shooting), 19 assists and zero turnovers. The Raiders won the game, 100-95.

Eerie Foreshadowing Award: Santa Monica, 2/15 vs. LA Valley.
The Corsairs trailed host LA Valley by 13 midway through the second half, and were still well behind entering the final 2 minutes. Then came some hot 3-point shooting (from Raleigh Harper) that got them close, but Valley held on to win by 3. Eighteen days later, Santa Monica had a seemingly safe 12-point lead over Antelope Valley with under a minute to play. But here came the threes - courtesy of AVC's Mike Webb - and AVC nearly pulled out a miracle comeback. Webb missed a chance to tie with 16 seconds left, allowing Santa Monica to hold on for...a 3-point win.

the Giant Killer Award: Glendale.
The Vaqueros finished 12-20 on the season, but late in the season I had the chance to see them play 2 teams ranked in the top 8 in the South. First, they topped #5 Citrus (then 17-4), 72-62 on January 18th. Just over a month later, they beat #8 West LA (then 20-12), 79-77. Mark Felder had big nights in both games to lead the Vaqueros.

And finally, the deja vu all over again award:
A year ago, #2 seed Ventura hosted a #7 seed from the Orange Empire Conference in the regional final in front of a full house. But for the second year in a row, it all ended in frustration for Ventura and its fans as the home squad fell, 76-67, to Saddleback, just as it fell (72-69 to Riverside) a year ago. Ouch.