FRESNO — Basketball is supposed to be a team sport, but Friday night in the opening round of the California Community College tournament, Long Beach City College's Derek Jones almost single-handedly defeated City College of San Francisco.
In a two-year career filled with fine performances, this was Jones' best. The 6-6 sophomore forward scored a game-high 41 points and had 17 rebounds to lead the Vikings to an 83-77 win over the Rams before 500 fans in Selland Arena.
The victory, Long Beach's second over CCSF this season, advanced the Vikings (29-6), the runner-up in the Metropolitan Conference, to tonight's quarterfinal game against Taft. CCSF, the second-seeded team from the Northern California bracket in the State tournament, ended the season at 25-5.
The wild game, in which the lead changed hands several times, was tied, 68-68, with just under six minutes to play when Long Beach went on an 8-0 streak to take the lead for good at 76-68. The catalyst in the streak, not surprisingly, was Jones, who scored two of the baskets, both on rim-rattling dunks.
Long Beach had dominated play early and took a 24-10 lead at the 11:12 mark of the first half. But the Vikings, the eighth-seeded team from the Southern California bracket, lost their intensity, and eventually, their lead, too. By halftime, San Francisco led, 40-39.
At halftime, Jones, who scored with equal ease from the inside and outside, spoke to his teammates in an effort to inspire them for the rally that was to come.
"I just said that we didn't come up here to lose in the first round," Jones said after the game. "And then we got our act together."
After Long Beach had built its eight-point lead, San Francisco, spurred on by the relentless sideline histrionics of Coach Brad Duggan, tried a rally of its own. But accurate free-throw shooting by the Vikings in the clutch secured the win.
"This was a great to watch and a great win for us," Long Beach Coach Bill Fraser said. "It's just a darn shame San Francisco has to go home. They are a great team." Point guard Curtis Moore, who injured his hip while attempting a dunk in celebration after the buzzer, added 17 points and guard Tod Irving 14 for Long Beach. Guard Edward Allen led San Francisco with 27 and forward John Trezvant added 15.
In an afternoon game, Metropolitan Conference champion El Camino (30-1), the top-seeded team from the Southern California bracket, defeated Ohlone of Fremont, 70-54.
The Warriors played sluggishly in the first half and led by only four points, 25-21, at the intermission. But in the second half, El Camino dominated and went on to beat the Coast Conference runner-up Renegades (20-11) by 16.
Gregory Hill led the Warriors with 22 points.
In other first-round games Friday, Sacramento beat Grossmont, 88-79, San Jose beat College of the Canyons in overtime, 75-70, and Butte beat Glendale, 79-72.