M. Basketball: Falcons record three-game sweep at Riverside City Classic

File Photo: Jaishon Forte (11) had a pair of double-doubles for the Falcons at the Riverside Classic
File Photo: Jaishon Forte (11) had a pair of double-doubles for the Falcons at the Riverside Classic

Playing the toughest schedule in the state poses a risk to your season record, but also gets your team prepared as the season progresses. For the young Cerritos College men's basketball team, they have been exposed to some of the better teams in Southern California early on this year and have come through with a great deal of experience. Competing in the Riverside City Classic over the weekend, the tough schedule is starting to pay off as the team won all three games. The weekend opened with a 68-55 victory over the host Tigers on the first day and followed that with an 84-71 win against Copper Mountain College and finished with a 53-50 victory against Saddleback College. Cerritos (5-5) will get a week off before traveling to take on East Los Angeles College at 6:00 p.m. on December 14.

Jaishon Forte (middle) was named to the All-Tournament Team Cerritos vs. Riverside City: Leading for most of the first half, the Falcons found themselves behind, 36-31 3:46 into the second half. On their nest possession, sophomore Jeremiah Galang (Narbonne HS) netted a three-pointer to draw within a pair of points, but Riverside responded by going on a 6-1 run over the next three minutes until Galang, sophomore Jacob Washington (Washington Prep HS/Los Angeles Harbor College) and freshman Joshua Belvin (St. Anthony HS) connected on consecutive baskets. At the 11:19 mark of the second half, Belvin scored on a fast break layup to put the Falcons in front, 43-42. with sophomore Jalen Washington (Bishop Montgomery HS) getting in on the action. Two more buckets from Belvin increased the Cerritos lead to 49-42 with 8:04 remaining, which completed a 14-0 run. They would maintain the lead to snap their three-game losing skid. Freshman Jaishon Forte (Rancho Verde HS) led the team with 16 points and 14 rebounds, while Belvin came off the bench to account for 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and added four rebounds. Jalen Washington produced 13 points and five assists, with Jacob Washington finishing with 11 points and six boards off the bench.

Cerritos vs. Copper Mountain: Taking on the Fighting Cacti for the first time in school history, the Falcons earned their second win in as many days at the Riverside City Classic. Forte (pictured, above left) started the game just as hot as he was the day before, as he drained a three-pointer on the team's first possession. The teams traded the lead several times in the first half until a three-pointer from freshman Dorian Harris (Cerritos HS) put Cerritos in front, 19-14 with 9:40 left in the half, while another Harris trey later in the half got the lead to six points (31-25). They took their six-point lead into halftime and then opened the second half with freshman Joshua Harrison (Onate, NM HS), Forte and freshman Solomon Dodd (Long Beach Wilson HS) all hitting buckets to extend their advantage to 41-29. The lead hovered around 10 or more points the remainder of the game. Forte (15 points, 13 rebounds) recorded his second consecutive double-double, with Harris (13 points), freshman Jahlen Jack (Centennial, GA HS), who had 13 points and four assists, Jalen Washington (10 points) and Belvin (10 points) all scoring in double figures.

Cerritos vs. Saddleback: The Falcons completed the three-game sweep with a nail-biter against the Gauchos (6-4). Although they held the lead the entire second half, Cerritos only scored three points in the final 5:16 of the game. A jumper by Jalen Washington put the team in front, 50-45, but the team went just 1-for-4 with three turnovers the remainder of the game. Saddleback didn't fare much better, as they were only 1-for-5 in the same time frame. The Gauchos scored the game's next three points to get to within 50-48, but a steal from Jalen Washington led to a Jacob Washington jumper to score what would turn out to be the game-winning basket with 1:36 remaining. A pair of free throws from David Dial made it 52-50 with :41 seconds left. With possession of the ball to the Gauchos in the final seconds, Captain Whitlock missed a three-pointer with :08 seconds remaining, with Forte getting the rebound. After Harrison was fouled with :01 second remaining, he converted one of two free throws, with Saddleback unable to get off a final shot. Jacob Washington came off the bench to score a team-high 14 points, while Forte pulled down a team-high 13 rebounds to go with his seven points. It was the third straight game that Forte had double-digit rebounds. Jalen Washington had seven points, with the trio of Jack, Harris and Harrison each producing six points in the win.