VENTURA - Rodrick McCobb scored a game-high 23 points and tournament MVP Lance Coleman added 18 as Fullerton College took an early lead and never let City College of San Francisco catch it the rest of the way, as the Hornets won their first California Community College Athletic Association Men's Basketball Championship since 2006 with an 85-79 victory on Sunday afternoon at Ventura College.
The Hornets, who had four players in double figures, finished their season with a 30-3 overall record after entering as the SoCal region's top seed. Dale Currie came off the bench to score a team-high 21 points for the defending champion Rams, who ended 31-2.
"I'm happy for my guys," said Fullerton head coach Perry Webster. "They put a lot of work in and they put a lot of effort in. They deserved it."
Fullerton never trailed in the game, jumping to a 7-0 lead after the first 2-1/2 minutes with McCobb's three-pointer capping the early surge. Malcom Johnson, who posted 13 points for CCSF, finally got the Rams on the board with his trey.
Ronnie Readus' jumper nine minutes into the game pushed Fullerton's lead to double-digits for the first time, making it 19-8. CCSF rallied, though, getting to within four points at 22-18 after a pair of free throws from Austin McCullough with 8:43 left in the half. Trailing 33-22 with four minutes to go, the Rams rallied by outscoring the Hornets 9-4 to only trail 37-31 at halftime.
Fullerton shot 50% (12 of 24) from the field in the first half while holding the Rams to just 32%, including only 19% (3 for 16) from beyond the arc. The Hornets, meanwhile, canned five of their nine three-point attempts before the break.
CCSF got to within four points on a trio of occasions early in the second half but Fullerton answered each time to keep the Rams at length. Jailen Moore provided one of those answers, canning back-to-back treys to take a 6-point advantage to a dozen points, 49-37, with 14:55 remaining.
Still, the Rams refused to fade away, staying within striking distance, including getting to just a 58-53 with 8:31 left when McCullough canned a three-pointer. CCSF couldn't get closer than four points the rest of the game, partly due to good free throw shooting from Fullerton which made 14 of 18 from the line in the final three minutes. The Hornets were 36 of 46 (78%) for the game.
San Francisco made just 10 of 37 (27%) three-point attempts in the championship.
"We just had to go to zone late and just pray that they wouldn't make shots, and that's what happened," said Webster. "We got lucky."
Coleman tallied a majority of his points from the charity stripe where he made 11 of 12. He also added nine rebounds, all on the defensive end. McCobb added six rebounds, an assist and a steal, while Moore finished with 12 points and Dylan Banks had 11.
Currie's nailed five treys for the Rams to help him score his 21 points, while also pitching in with seven rebounds, five assists and a steal. Deschon Winston joined Johnson with 13 points while McCullough finished with 11. Johnson completed a double-double afternoon with a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Hornets last state championship came during a 37-0 season in 2006 when they beat West Valley. They also captured banners in 1954 and 1961 and were playing in their eighth state championship game. Fullerton last appeared in the title matchup two years ago, falling to San Diego City at the buzzer, 53-51.
The Rams, who have gone 64-3 over the past two seasons including beating San Diego City, 82-72, in last year's championship, were trying for their CCCAA record-tying fifth state title.
Fullerton's four state championships are tied with CCSF, Compton and Riverside City for the second-most. Cerritos, Fresno City and Long Beach City each have five.
Readus, McCobb and McCullough were named to the all-tournament team and were joined by Jessie Elrod (Citrus) and Ethan Richardson (Fresno City).
(Mike Robles, CCCAA)