Coming off a third-place finish at their 53rd annual Holiday Classic, the Bulldogs head north this week to play in Cuesta College's Winter Classic. The Hancock men's basketball team (10-6) opens Friday at 1 p.m. against East Los Angeles (12-3), the No. 3 ranked team in the state poll on January 2. After Friday's first round, the Bulldogs will face either Mt. San Jacinto (6-9) or L.A. Harbor (10-5) in the semifinals. San Bernardino Valley (13-4), Santa Barbara (1-10), Pasadena (7-6) and Cuesta (9-9) round out the eight-team field. San Bernardino was ranked No. 7 in the most recent state poll.
Last week, Hancock completed a 2-1 run through its Holiday Classic for a third-place finish. Hancock opened with a 71-66 come-from-behind win over Chabot. The Bulldogs overcame a four-point second-half deficit with a late 13-0 run. Spirit Ricks (Patterson HS) led the Bulldogs with 14 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season. Sophomore guard Shane Carney (Narbonne HS) added 13 points, five rebounds and five assists. Glenn Jordan (Curtis HS) and Trenton Mitchell (El Diamante HS) added nine points apiece. Carney led the Bulldogs with 18 points in Hancock's heartbreaking 69-67 loss to Merritt in the semifinals. Meritt hit the game-winning shot with four seconds remaining. Jordan poured in 12 points, while Devin Davis (El Cerrito HS) recorded his second double-double of the season with 13 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. The Bulldogs bounced back with a 75-74 win in the third-place game over Palomar. Davis hit a pair of free throws in the final seconds to push Hancock on top for good. Freshman Javae Lampkins (Mt. Zion Academy) sank six 3-pointers to tie a career high with 20 points. Carney finished with 15 points and nine assists. Ricks contributed 11 points and eight rebounds. Cuesta finished runner-up at the Holiday Classic. The Cougars fell 74-59 to Merritt in the championship game.
East Los Angeles' defense ranks eighth in the state in fewest points allowed (60.1). Offensively, the Huskies (12-3) average 69.6 points per game. Three Huskies average 12 or more points per game led by forward Roderick Williams, who averages 16.7 points per game and is shooting 56 percent from the field. Guard Frank Bertz is averaging 13 points and shooting 49.2 percent from 3-point range. Freshman forward Jacob Tryon averages 12.4 points.
Hancock ranks sixth in the state in 3-point shooting percentage (39 percent) and assists per game (19.0), and tenth with 14.3 offensive rebounds per game. Carney leads the team with16.1 points and 5.8 assists per game. Ricks averages 10.0 points and a team-best 6.8 rebounds per game. Jordan averages 9.7 points and 4.8 assists, while Davis averages 8.9 points per contest.
After the Cuesta tournament, the Bulldogs will play their final tune-up before conference on Wednesday, Jan. 10, at Santa Monica. The 5 p.m. game is a make-up for a game postponed last month due to the fires in Southern California. The Bulldogs open Western State Conference play on Saturday, Jan. 13, at Ventura.