For the fourth year in a row, the Cerritos College men's basketball team reached the championship game of the Irvine Valley Tournament. With their 89-64 win over rival Long Beach City College, the Falcons (4-0) picked up their third title in those four seasons, and second in a row. They opened with convincing wins over both College of the Canyons (93-74) and Irvine Valley College (76-50) before taking on the Vikings. The team will now travel to Fullerton College for a 6:00 p.m. game next Saturday.
Cerritos vs. College of the Canyons: Led by the outside shooting of sophomore Cody Wilkes (La Mirada HS) and freshman Jonathan Galang (Narbonne HS), who were a combined 9-for-11 from three-point range, the Falcons shot a scorching 62% from the field and 59% from long range. Leading by double-digits after the first four minutes of the game, Cerritos saw the Cougars close the gap to five points (38-33) late in the first half. Freshman center Daeyln Bams (Villa Park HS) scored, followed by a bucket and three-pointer from sophomore Tawon Elston (Roosevelt HS) to make it a 45-35 contest. The lead then swelled to 17 points after Wilkes opened the second half with a jumper and three-pointer, as the Falcons cruised to the win. Wilkes (22 points) and Galang (14 points) led the way, while freshman Chance Hunter (Inglewood HS) accounted for 15 points and six rebounds. Coming off the bench, Elston produced 12 points and four assists, with sophomore guard Christian Alvis-Labadie (Whittier Christian HS) recording nine points, six rebounds and four assists. Sophomore Jamal Heckard (Carson HS/El Camino College) led the team with seven assists and three steals.
Cerritos vs. Irvine Valley: Taking on the host Lasers, the Falcons jumped out to an 11-0 lead to start the game, as Wilkes, Hunter and sophomore Dezmon Murphy (La Mirada HS) all draining three-pointers. Heckard became the fourth starter to drop a three-pointer in the first three minutes of the game for a 14-2 advantage. The lead was as high a 32-9 in the first half with 6:12 remaining. Alvis-Labadie became the fifth starter to hit a three-pointer in the first half, which made the game 39-14 with 3:40 left on the clock. All 11 players who saw action made it on the scoresheet, with Hunter leading the team with 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, while Wilkes (12 points, four rebounds) and Murphy (10 points, three rebounds, three assists). The bench accounted for 21 points and 16 rebounds, with Elston and sophomore Darryl McMillon, Jr. (View Park Prep HS) each posting seven points and combined for eight rebounds.
Cerritos vs. Long Beach City: The hot-shooting Falcons didn't take the day off against the Vikings, their rival in the South Coast Conference South Division. Netting seven more three-pointers, and converting 22-of-27 free throws, Cerritos held a commanding 50-29 lead at intermission. The took a 15-1 lead through the first five minutes of the game, with Wilkes accounting for seven of those points. The tournament Most Valuable Player would score 14 points in the win, and be one of five players who scored in double-figures. It was Hunter who led the team with 19 points with eight rebounds on 5-of-8 shooting and was also named all-tournament. The offensive general for the Falcons, Heckard, also earned all-tournament recognition after producing nine points, with three rebounds and three assists. Once the lead hit over 20 points in the first half, Cerritos went to their bench so everyone could get valuable playing time. Long Beach did make a second half run got as close as 55-47 with 12:57 left in the game. Murphy slammed home a dunk on the team's next possession to rejuvenate the team and the lead went back over double-digits. Alvis-Labadie turned in a double-double from his guard position with 10 points and 10 rebounds, with Elston registering a superb game off the bench with 15 points, six rebounds and four assists.