The men’s basketball team (9-18 overall and 7-9 in the Bay Valley Conference) won its final game of the season at Merritt College Feb. 17, 99-79, after losing against Napa Valley College on Sophomore Night earlier that week, 81-62, in the Gymnasium.
“Against Merritt (8-17 overall and 7-9 in the BVC) it was their Sophomore Night and you know, guys talk a lot out there on the court because of the proximity of the colleges. Some of their players played against ours in high school,” Comet coach Miguel Johnson said.
Contra Costa College started off slowly in Friday’s game against the Thunderbirds and his team trailed 45-36 at the end of the first half.
Merritt was strong driving the ball to the rack and their collective length was one of the biggest advantages in the T-Birds favor throughout the first half.
“Merritt, as far as matchups go, had more length and size than us. Quickness was more in our favor and our guard play was superior,” Johnson said.
Freshman guards scored 84 of the Comets 99 points in the game.
“In the first half I had a rough start by committing five turnovers,” freshman guard Demar Dunn said. “To start the second half my teammates and coaches told me to keep my head up. I was able to do better and my teammates put me in great positions to score.”
The Comet offense turned on the jets in the second half of the game. The team scored 63 points to overcome the nine-point deficit from the first half.
“We really shot the ball well from the field. We shot the 3-point ball well,” Johnson said.
Dunn said that the team could get by Merritt’s length and size by using team speed, which was its biggest advantage.
The leading statistical players on the night for CCC were guards Koleman Kelly (25 points, four rebounds and three steals), Curtis Harris (28 points, 12 rebounds) and Demar Dunn (15 points, six rebounds and four assists).
The Napa Valley game was a much different ball game.
CCC was down early in the first half but went on one of their biggest scoring runs of the game by scoring nine unanswered points. The run brought the score to 22-20 with five minutes left in the first half.
Shortly after the scoring burst, both teams battled for the lead and kept going back and forth to the basket.
Napa Valley led at the end of the first half 38-32 thanks to some very poor ball handling by the Comets.
“Their player, Gabriel Allen (forward), shot the ball very well and we didn’t have an answer for him defensively,” Johnson said.
Napa coach Steve Ball said, “Jabriel had a great game. He was definitely feeling his shot all night and it helped us a lot.”
To begin the second half the Comets started off slow and lacked production from most of the team except for Harris who scored a season high 29 points.
That poor showing by most of the team helped hold CCC down 53-44 with 13 minutes left in the second half.
“We made a lot of mistakes that game, we weren’t cutting hard or making sharp passes, it was bad execution on our part,” Dunn said.
CCC showed signs of life with five minutes left in the game when Harris drove to the basket, got fouled and made the shot to complete the three-point play.
With 2:53 left in the game, CCC was once again driving to the hoop, had the shot blocked straight into hands of Allen who drove the ball all the way down to the other side where he made the 3-point play that sealed the victory for Napa.
“Contra Costa was keeping up with us for most of the game, but they did make some poor mistakes that we fortunately capitalized on,” Ball said.
Of the season, Johnson said, “It was one of those seasons where you are not satisfied with the outcome but the future looks bright. We just couldn’t get that consistency this year.”