March Madness continues this week for the Allan Hancock College men's basketball team. The Bulldogs, seeded No. 10 in the South Regional, earned a spot in the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) State Championship Tournament with two upsets on the road. Hancock is 23-9 overall and one of the final four teams from the south and final eight teams in the state still in contention for the state title. The Bulldogs, now the south's No. 4 seed in the state tournament, face the top seed of the north, City College of San Francisco (30-1) in the State Tournament quarterfinals at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 9 at Ventura College.
"This time of the year, it's not so much the Xs and Os. It's how much does the team believe in themselves and this group has genuine respect and love for each other," said Hancock Head Coach Tyson Aye.
Hancock punched its ticket to the Elite Eight with a thrilling 91-90 double-overtime win at San Bernardino Valley College, the south's No. 2 seed. Sophomore Shane Carney scored a career-high 32 points, including a driving layup to tie the game in the closing seconds of overtime. He added five rebounds and five assists. He is the program's all-time leader in career 3-pointers made, and surpassed the 1,000 point mark in the win. Freshman guard Glenn Jordan scored 17 points on a 3-for-4 effort from 3-point range. Jordan buried a key 3-pointer in the final minute of overtime to pull Hancock to within one point. Sophomore Devin Davis added 11 points and 10 rebounds, while center John Riddick contributed 10 points and three blocked shots. The Bulldogs fell behind by as many as 15 points in the first half, but rallied to climb to within three points at halftime. Hancock led by as many as seven points in the second half, and trailed by four points in the first overtime period.
"We're the only team in the Elite Eight to have played two road games. We've traveled more than 800 miles roundtrip, lost a starter to a season-ending injury and played three overtime periods this postseason. We are battled tested and ready for the next one," said Aye.
The Bulldogs continue adding to their list of accomplishments: most wins in a single-season since 26 wins in 1989-90; first playoff win since 2001; first appearance in regional finals since 1990; and first appearance in the state tournament since 1974. The last time Hancock advanced to the state tournament, the Bulldogs won the state championship. Hancock also won the state title in 1957.
"These young men have been fully focused on all of the details of being a collegiate student-athlete and teammate. It's been the most coachable and resilient group I've had in a long time," said Aye. "I knew it was going to be a special year when we started our jump training conditioning last October. We had 21 guys and no one complained or quit. They were fully focused then and are even more so today."
San Francisco has won three state championships, taking the title in 2016, 2011 and 1962.
The Coast Conference – North Division champions are riding a 26-game winning streak and averaging 91.7 points per game, third most in the state. Their opponents average 64 points per game and shoot 38 percent from the field. The Rams' leading scorer is guard Terrell Brown, who is averaging 15.9 points per game, and shooting 52.7 percent from the field, 48 percent from 3-point range and 82.6 percent from the line. Guard Eddie Stansberry averages 12.6 points per game and is shooting 42 percent from beyond-the-arc, while Eddy Ionescu puts in 10.5 points per game and shoot 37 percent from 3-point range. As a team, the Rams shoot 48 percent from the field, including 38.5 percent from 3-point range and average 11.5 triples per game.
"They're very talented and well coached, but they haven't been tested like we have and the pressure is completely on them," said Aye.
The Hancock College Boosters, Inc. is sponsoring a rooter bus to take fans to Ventura College for the Elite Eight showdown. A seat on the bus and a ticket to the game will cost $25 for adults and members of the public. Current Hancock students can reserve a seat and receive admission to the game for $10. Payment is due prior to boarding the rooter bus.
The bus will leave from outside building N, where the college's gymnasium and track are located, at 3:30 p.m. on Friday. The bus will return to the college immediately after the game.
Aye encouraged Bulldog Nation to travel down Highway 101 and support a team that is just three games away from winning a state championship.
"We hope people will throw on their blue shirts and hats, make the drive to Ventura and represent Bulldog Nation. We're looking at this like a home game," said Aye. "It's one thing to watch a team play, but when you're there in person you can feel and see the genuine love and respect they have for each other.
To reserve a seat, please contact Kim Ensing, associate dean and athletic director at Hancock, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (805) 922-6966 ext. 3227.
The Elite Eight schedule for Friday, March 9 at Ventura College includes:
1 p.m. - (4N) Santa Rosa (25-4) vs. (1S) San Diego City (31-2)
3 p.m. - (3N) Yuba (25-5) vs. (2S) Cerritos (26-5)
5 p.m. - (3S) Orange Coast (22-7) vs. (2N) Fresno City (27-4)
7 p.m. - (4S) Allan Hancock (23-9) vs. (1N) City College of San Francisco (30-1)
All games will be broadcast by www.socalcollegesports.com.
The winners of Friday's quarterfinals advance to Saturday's semifinals. The state championship game will be on Sunday.