Comet quintet steals championship game


George Morin / The Advocate

Comet forward Julian Robinson drains a jump shot during the Comets’ Bay Valley Conference win against Laney College on Friday.

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

OAKLAND — The battle for supremacy in the Bay Valley Conference came down to the final night of conference play as a quintet of Comets closed the door on second place Laney College’s championship chances with a 71-63 victory Friday.

CCC, seeded No. 13 in the NorCal Regional Playoffs, begins postseason play Friday at 7 p.m. against No. 4 Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill.

On Friday both teams carried identical 10-1 records into the contest and a celebration of the Eagles (15-10 overall and 10-2 in the BVC) sophomore players added an extra bonus to fuel Laney’s incentive toward victory.

For the Comets (21-9 and 11-1 in the BVC) the adversity of suiting up just five players and the prospect of needing to play a perfect game to win was the impetus for a near-flawless first-half performance and ultimately enough to take home the conference crown.

In the Comets’ previous game Feb. 17 at Yuba College, guard Sydney Vidal was ejected from the contest for screaming a profanity on the court.

“I feel horrible,” Vidal said. “It was a bad decision, but I wasn’t aware of that rule. I feel like it was unfair that there was no warning given.”

The Comets went on to win the game 77-68, but the infraction also carries a one-game suspension, disqualifying Vidal for the final game against Laney.

Without the ability to substitute and fouls being the most precious commodity on the court, CCC embraced facing the seemingly insurmountable odds.

After seeing scores tied at seven and 12, the Comets finally took the lead on a Briah Davis (seven points) jumper well into the first quarter.

A longer, leaner Comet team beat the Eagles to loose balls and long rebounds throughout the first quarter.

Sophomore guard Tynisha Adams (26 points) was virtually unguardable, hitting 3s or knifing into the heart of the Laney defense for lay-ups.

A tight game early became an exhibition of perimeter ball movement and high-low post play between freshman standout Julian Robinson (15 points, 12 rebounds) and BVC stalwart Jacqie Moody (11 points, 12 rebounds).

“Defense was our biggest concern. We wanted to play disciplined, stay under control and communicate well,” Robinson said.

Robinson’s high-post decisions of draining elbow jumpers or finding Moody on the block gave the Eagles fits, forcing adjustments that inevitably left Adams or sophomore guard Daizah Pounds alone to pick apart the Eagles from behind the arc.

Pounds earned her second triple double of the season notching 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

“I told my teammates I would die on the court before losing a championship to Laney,” Pounds said. “I was ready to put the game on my shoulders because I knew how big it was.”

Even with the frantic pace and the raucous crowd, Comet players (known for their volatility) kept their composure by limiting verbal outbursts and, most importantly, not reaching on defense to foul.

The Eagles forced a 4-0 run to end the half, but an Adams 3-point buzzer-beater gave the Comets a 38-32 lead at halftime.

Seemingly a harbinger of good things to come, Davis knocked down her second 3-pointer of the season early in the third quarter. Moody and Robinson continued to dominate the play inside as the Eagles finally hinted at wilting under the weight of the situation.

Back-to-back lay-ups by Adams and Davis forced Laney into a timeout with five minutes remaining in the third and the Comets in front 50-36.

Following the timeout, Laney gave its fans something to cheer about by going on a 6-0 run. Moody quieted the crowd, earning a foul and draining both free throws, giving her squad a decisive third quarter advantage, 56-47.

The Eagles clawed away at the Comet advantage and cut the lead to 10 with three minutes to play. The crowd became electrified as the Comet lead was smashed to six and then five with two minutes to play.

The crowd sat stunned in silence until its eruption as Laney forced a 10-second violation and a two-shot foul of which one was converted.

With just minutes left to play, Robinson fouled out, leaving the Comets at a distinct disadvantage.

In the closing minute Laney frantically searched for a way to take advantage of the CCC misfortune. For the Eagles, faces of strength grew somber as time ran out.

Playing four on five for the last minute and a half, the Comets held strong and overcame literal odds en route to a 71-63 victory and the Bay Valley Conference title.