Comets soar in double overtime


Xavier Johnson / The Advocate

Comet guard Evan Thompson prepares to shoot a game tying free throw in the Comets’ double overtime victory over Mendocino College on Friday.

By Joel Umanzor, Sports Editor

The men’s basketball team (11-14 overall and 7-6 in the Bay Valley Conference) outlasted the Mendocino Eagles (15-9 overall and 6-6 in the BVC) in double overtime to win a critical conference matchup 97-92 on Friday night in the Gymnasium.

The Comets strung together their second win in a row and first win at home in almost a month in a thriller against a scrappy Eagle squad that pushed the game beyond regulation.

Mendocino College and CCC both came into the game vying for playoff positioning going into this final stretch of the BVC play.

“I tip my hat to Mendo they played a hell of a game,” coach Miguel Johnson said.

“We had a lot of miscues and mental lapses, but when we needed a play we got it done.”

The Comets owned the tiebreaker from the team’s win at Mendocino early in January making the game intense and significant toward maintaining pace in conference.

After leading by three points at halftime, the Comets came out of the locker room flat and played unusually sloppy defense to open the half allowing Mendocino to hit their first two three pointers.

The defensive lapse set the tone for what would be a close game down the stretch.

Critical shots made by freshman guard Elijah Canales kept the Comets within striking distance throughout the second half.

He and the other freshman players have had increased roles within the team as of late.

Johnson said, “You know we got some freshman in there during big games down the stretch and sometimes the moment might be a little too big for them, but we are learning.”

The Comets focus will be tested again in conference play on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. when they travel to play Napa Valley (3-9).

Canales said, “The coaching staff wants me to space the floor and defend. They also want me to use my body to box out and get rebounds.”

Canales said the confidence the coaching staff has in him has been evident through their encouraging him to make open shots when he gets those opportunities.

Although they had the extra guard help, the Comets didn’t make putting the game away any easier on themselves.

After a back and forth second half, the Comets found themselves down two points without the ball with mere seconds remaining. This following a missed layup by guard Evan Thompson forced CCC to foul the Eagles to stop the clock with 13.5 seconds to play.

Mendocino made one of two shots and led by three points, but gave the Comets one last opportunity to extend the game.

After a missed shot, Thompson was fouled on a three point attempt and was sent to the free throw line with 2.6 seconds remaining in the game.

Thompson said, “Before I went to the free throw line my team just told me that they trusted me. They also wanted me to know that I was going to take it to overtime, so we could win.”

Thompson hit on all three free throw attempts to tie the game at 76 and force overtime.

The Eagles wouldn’t go away and kept pace with the scoring of guard Isaiah Attles early in the 5-minute overtime period to force a second overtime.

Attles said, “Down the stretch in the second half and overtime, we relied on each other and no one tried to make any hero plays.”

“We all made efforts to contribute in any way that we could.”

The Comets outlasted the Eagles in the second overtime by making layups and hitting free throws when intentionally fouled. The Eagles failing strategy extended the Comet lead to five points.

These end of game situations are not unfamiliar to CCC.

Johnson said, “At the end of the day, it’s just having it transfer to the court within the game.”

The players also recognize this and the importance of these games at the bottom of the conference schedule.

Canales said, “The rest of these games are extremely important and we have a chance to make playoffs if the chips fall in the right places, but we have to come into every game with the same mindset.”

The veterans on the team see the opportunity, but know not to get too wide-eyed in looking ahead.

Thompson said, “All this win means is that we are focused on the next game that we play.”