LIVERMORE -- Zach Copeland had 18 points and Jalen Canty added 16 as City College of San Francisco defeated defending champion Saddleback College, 68-57, for the 2016 California Community College Athletic Association Men's Basketball Championship Sunday on Tony Costello Court at Las Positas College.
It was the third state championship for San Francisco, with previous titles coming in 2011 and 1962. Saddleback had defeated the Rams in the 2010 championship game
Saddleback led only once in the game, when all-tournament forward Breaon Brady tallied the game's initial basket in the first minute.
CCSF took the lead for good with 13:58 remaining in the first half, with a free throw by Canty breaking a 6-6 deadlock. San Francisco led by as many as 13 points in the first period.
Copeland had 12 first-half points as the Rams took a 33-22 mid-game lead.
CCSF had an 18-point lead, 53-35, with 9:41 remaining after a 3-pointer by 6-9 Jashandeep Kahlon. But Saddleback came back to cut the margin to 11 at 58-47 -- after a pair of baskets by all tourney forward Lyle Hexon. CCSF's 6-8 forward Keondre Dew responded with a 3-pointer.
"The game plan was to throw the kitchen sink at 'em," said CCSF coach Justin Labagh. "Go to our bench, try to wear 'em down and not let them get the ball to the wing. I said it's going to take us all to do it and everybody contributed."
Saddleback closed to 11 again with 53 seconds left on a 3-point basket by Kahlon. A free throw by Maurice Jones and a field goal by Hexon with 39 seconds left narrowed the count to 65-57. Saddleback was unable to score again, however. Copeland then closed out the scoring at the foul line.
Canty, the tournament MVP, also had nine rebounds, two steals, a block, and an assist to accompany his 16 points. He's a 6-9 sophomore forward out of Brookside Christian High (Stockton). "We've been on his back the entire year," said Labagh. "He's the best big guy I've coached."
Copeland (a Berkeley high grad) and Trevor Dunbar (St. Ignatius, San Francisco) were also on the all-tournament team.
CCSF extended its winning streak to 23 games. The Rams' only loss of the season was 95-89 to Moorpark College on Dec. 5. Saddleback's streak ended at 25 games.
Brian Beard, Chaffey
Breaon Brady, Saddleback
Lyle Hexon, Saddleback
Zach Copeland, CCSF
Trevor Dunbar, CCSF
MVP: Jalen Canty, CCSF
Contact: Fred Baer firstname.lastname@example.org mobile/txt: 650.483.3733