SACRAMENTO, Calif.- The Big 8 championship banner can be ordered now, as head coach James Giacomazzi and the 2014-15 Cosumnes River men's basketball team clinched at least a share of the Big 8 championship following last night's 72-61 victory over the Delta Mustangs. The win was CRC's 10th straight. They'll look to win their 11th consecutive game, and the outright Big 8 conference title, when they hit the road Tuesday night for a game against the Modesto JC Pirates.
The Hawks opened up the contest with an early lead over Delta, as a pair of three's by guards Josh Dela Cruz and Phil Randles helped give the Hawks a 12-9 advantage after the opening five minutes of play. CRC's stingy defense continued to give the Mustangs fits, as the Hawks pushed Delta's deficit to double-digits over the next five minutes. A layup by freshman forward Daylon Potts followed by a Donald Mims dunk helped CRC to a 23-13 lead at the halfway point of the first half.
Cosumnes River had plenty of opportunities over the remaining ten minutes of the half to put Delta away early, but failed to convert on a number of opportunities to push the lead even further. Missed free throws and turnovers left the door open for the Mustangs, and the team took advantage. Forward Troy Anderson continued to be a force for Delta, scoring 15 points in the first half including the team's final seven, as Delta closed the deficit to three at halftime on a Troy Anderson dunk. CRC managed to escape the half with a 33-30 lead at intermission.
The Mustangs continued to play well in the second half, as Amir Butler and Dwayne Lee knocked down a pair of three pointers to give Delta their first lead of the game. The lead wouldn't last, however, as Cosumnes River's defense clamped down on the Mustangs. A Dela Cruz 15-foot pullup gave Cosumnes River a 41-38 lead at the 15 minute mark of the second half, as CRC wouldn't trail the rest of the night.
Sophomore forward David Straughter continued his impressive night, scoring a layup before guards Randles and Mitchell Love knocked down back-to-back three-pointers, as CRC pushed the lead back to five with 10 minutes to go in the contest. CRC's offense remained efficient against the Delta zone defense, before the Mustangs tried to extend the game by fouling with just under four minutes to play.
The Hawks continued to leave the door open however, as their struggles from the free throw line continued. In all, CRC would knock down only 12 of their 25 attempts on the night, giving Delta an opportunity to get back in the game. The Hawks defense continued to impress however, as Delta managed only six points over the final five minutes as CRC defeated the Mustangs to complete the season sweep, 72-61 on Thursday night.
All five CRC starters scored in double-figures on the night, led by Straughter with 16 points on a perfect 7-7 from the field. He also grabbed six rebounds, and recorded two steals, and two blocks on the night. Love followed with a 14 points-six assist night of his own, also contributing a pair of steals. Center Donald Mims also had an impressive night, scoring 12 points while grabbing seven rebounds, and recording seven blocks in 28 minutes of play. Randles and Dela Cruz each added 10 and 12 points respectively, while Dela Cruz also contributed nine assists. Reserve forward Daylon Potts scored four points while grabbing 10 rebounds in only 17 minutes of play.
Troy Anderson recorded game-highs in points and rebounds, scoring 22 points while grabbing 15 rebounds for the Mustangs, in the loss. Sophomore guard Dwayne Lee scored 13 points on three three-pointers, as the only other Mustang to record double-digits in points. Delta's star point guard Jordan Belasco once again struggled against the Cosumnes River defense, scoring only five points on 2-8 shooting.
The win over Delta gives Cosumnes River their 20th of the season, and their 10th straight. It also gives CRC a share of the Big 8 conference championship. The Hawks can win the conference championship outright on Tuesday night, with a win over Modesto JC, or a Diablo Valley loss. Their road contest against Modesto is scheduled for 5:30 PM.
CRC returns home for sophomore night next Friday in their regular season finale, when they play host to Santa Rosa, the defending state champions. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30, and each of the team's four sophomores will be honored during the night's festivities.