What's At Stake
A berth in the CCCAA State Championship Tournament and a shot at the the State Title.
7:00 PM, Citrus Gymnasium
$12 - General Admission
$8 - College students with ID, Faculty with ID, staff with ID, senior citizens 60 and over and children less than 12 years of age.
Parking is permitted in lot S8, adjacent to the gymnasium.
Two time WSC East Coach of the Year Brett Lauer and his Assistant Casey Norris have developed one of the deepest rosters of talent in the state in 2017-18. From top to bottom, the Owls' players are team-first all the way, with players looking out for the success of their teammates first and foremost. This tightly bound chemistry and brotherhood has been the backbone of the team, and will likely be the edge for the Owls moving forward.
The Owls have maintained a top 10 state ranking for much of the season, and go into Saturday's matchup ranked #5 in the CCCMBCA state final coaches poll, and #3 in Southern California. Citrus has won 13 of its last 14 games, several of those were blowouts of 20 points or more.
Citrus is 2nd in the state in 3 pointers per game with 12.1, which is another major factor for the success of this team. The platoon of long range sharpshooters has been an absolute nightmare for even the most prepared teams this season. On any given night, as many as 8 Owls players can drop 3 pointers with consistency. The sheer volume of shooters ensures that somebody will get hot. And when they do, good luck keeping up with Citrus' masterful ball movement and no-hesitation permitter shooting.
The Owls boast one of the most well rounded teams in the state, with capable and uniquely skilled players from the top of the roster to the bottom. Although it's difficult to credit individuals on such a team-oriented squad, there are a few highlights worth mentioning.
Western Conference East Player of the Year Jeremy Smith is one of those noteworthy individuals. Smith is amongst the best players in the state, with the stats and success to prove it. Smith boasts top 5 state rankings in Points (667), Assists(169), Free Throws(160), Minutes Per Game(33.6), Minutes(1043), and Games Started(31).
Sharpshooters Austin Clarke, Jesse Elrod, Alexios Ziska, Miles Crawford, Smith, Kyle Gray and Treyvon Watts-Hale all boast 3 point shooting percentages greater than 30%. Look for these men to come out confidently firing away from the arc. Well rounded forward Kyle Gray is the consummate role player for Citrus, filling in the blanks wherever the Owls need it most. Gray has been known to go off on scoring runs and has scored more than 15 points on 8 occasions this season. But his intangible skills, rebounding, hard nosed hustle plays, ball distribution and leadership make him an integral asset.
Citrus is coming off its 8th ever conference championship and third consecutive Western Conference East title. The Owls took the state title in 2008 under Coach Rick Croy.
Coach Steve Smith's Orange Coast team has had a banner year after coming off a 2016-17 season that featured only one conference win. The 8-19 overall record last year is in no way indicative of the 2017-18 squad. Although the Pirates struggled in the preseason, suffering multiple 30 point blowouts and a 5 game losing skid that included a 49 point loss to San Diego Miramar, they are now 19 of their last 21 and dropped just one conference game en route to its first title since 1979. Note: Citrus also faced San Diego Miramar this season. In the 2nd round of regionals, the Owls blew out the Jets 99-72.
The Pirates are led by a trio of double digit scorers. Joshua Davis, a 6'6 Freshman Center, is first on the team in scoring with 17.9 points per game; 6'5 Sophomore Lloyd Wright is second in PPG at 16.0; and Kupaa Harrison, another 6'5 Sophomore, averages 15.6. By and large, those three athletes score the bulk of the points for the Pirates, but the supporting cast of hustlers and role players are likely the variable that could turn things either direction for the Pirates.
Orange Coast last won a conference championship back in 1979 under CCCAA Hall of Fame Coach Tandy Gillis. They would then advance to take the state title.