Team misses playoffs after push

By Efrain Valdez, Sports Editor

PITTSBURG — Despite a crushing loss on Sophomore Night against Yuba College on Feb. 20, the men’s basketball team rebounded here on Friday to beat Los Medanos College 89-79.

Going into Friday’s game, the Comets (13-15 overall and 9-7 in the Bay Valley Conference) were already eliminated from postseason play after Wednesday’s loss against the 49ers (24-4 overall and

15-1 in the BVC), but they rallied to get a positive result in the final game of the season.

After maintaining a steady lead for the majority of the game, CCC could not handle the Mustangs (18-10 overall and 11-5 in the BVC), who clawed back into the game and regained a 63-60 lead with 10 minutes left in the second half.

“Our guys made shots,” CCC men’s basketball coach Miguel Johnson said. “It all goes back to their focus. It was probably because there was no pressure, unlike the game against Yuba when we were fighting for a playoff spot.”

Shortly after LMC got the lead, the advantage was short-lived.

Comet guard Evan Thompson hit a pair of huge 3-pointers that gave CCC a much-needed morale boost and a 66-63 lead.

Following the scoring swing, CCC locked down on defense, punctuated by Comet guard Isiah Attles ridiculous shot rejection after LMC tried to capitalize on a Comet turnover.

“Contra Costa played with a lot of energy and is a very well-coached team by Miguel Johnson,” LMC coach Derek Domenichelli said. “Their guards did a great job breaking our guards down and knocked down the shots they needed to,”

Attles said as the team went into halftime they talked about how they wanted to send out the sophomores on a good note.

“We are a very close team, so we came together and put in a good effort in the second half. We were able to hold it out and when it (the game) got close, we knocked down all of our shots,” he said.

About five minutes into the second half it seemed as the Comets were going to give up the halftime lead.

Falling into a lull has been a tendency for the Comets late in the season.

In games against Yuba, LMC and College of Marin earlier in BVC play, CCC could not take advantage of their halftime leads and ended up losing in each of those contests.

“We’re always going to be the same team, whether we win or lose. It just depends on if we come with the focus to get the job done,” Johnson said.

He said he believes it was hard for his young players at times during conference play, but he thinks the future is bright for his team.

“We just need to get some (players) who have size (for next year), but it’s going to be hard to replace the shooting that we had this year and the solid play from Eric (Jones),” Johnson said.

Moving forward

During Wednesday’s game at home, the Comets struggled to keep up with the size, depth and energy from the state-ranked 49ers.

The game, which ended up being a 94-72 blowout in Yuba’s favor, saw the Comets overwhelmed on the boards and in the open court.

Johnson said that his team was forced to play to its strengths, highlighted by excellent guard play. The regular contributions of Thompson, Jones and Attles were not enough to derail the 49er offense.

“We had to play their game at times, but I’m happy that the team was able to bounce back (against LMC) after that tough game against Yuba,” Johnson said.

CCC saw Jones score 33 points in that game, which was something that Yuba coach Doug Cornelius thought his team could have prevented.

“We didn’t do a very good job on number one (Jones),” he said. “He went to the free throw line a lot. We have good post guys. There are not many teams in California that have two or three guys who are really good down in the post.”

As the season comes to a close, the Comets will only lose three sophomores, but those three provided CCC with its signature high-flying offense this year.

“It’s going to be hard to replace them (Attles, Jones and Thompson), but are happy with the young guys who will be coming back next year,” Johnson said.