Titans break through -LCC picks up first conference win
They say the first win is always the hardest. If that's the case, things should get a whole lot easier for the Titans after they bagged their first conference win Wednesday, Jan. 21, beating Umpqua Community College 67-63.
The Titans went into halftime trailing by one, but a strong second half proved to be the difference. And although it didn't show up in the box score, the Titans' energy on defense and effective half-court trap took Umpqua out of their comfort zone, and helped the Titans take, and maintain the lead.
"We didn't play tight, we just played basketball. I think that plus defensive effort, was the difference," Head Coach Bruce Chavka said.
LCC and Umpqua had almost identical shooting stats, but the Titans' effort and energy on the glass was key as they out rebounded the Riverhawks 47-31.
Darrell Wilcox led the Titans balanced scoring attack with 13 points, and Brent Jones chipped in a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Chavka said that the team focused on relaxing and playing with a smile on their faces, which is easier said than done when a team is winless in their conference. Clearly, his players bought in.
"I think today we just came to play, we didn't play tight. We played like we didn't have anything to prove. We just came to have fun and I think that made a big difference," Jake Wiles said.
The Titans first victory was emotional, but the team shows no sign of letting down.
"We just gotta try to keep our momentum, today we just felt like we weren't under pressure and we just played ball," Wilcox said.
On Saturday, Jan. 17, the Chemeketa Community College Storm defeated the LCC Titans 85-62.
"We played hard. We have been up and down with our effort all season. It's disappointing," Chavka said. "We emphasized confidence and getting our swagger back. Our defensive energy was really good. I feel we grew as a team. Chemeketa is a good team, and it's a really challenging conference." Almost immediately, the Storm flexed its muscle. They opened the game with a 19-5 run that saw five quick turnovers by the Titans. It quickly set the tone for the evening, as turnovers would be the Titans' ultimate undoing. Chemeketa scored 22 points off turnovers, capitalizing on every Titan mishap.
"We panicked at the beginning. They [Chemeketa] were ready to roll. I could see the wheels turning, we knew what we wanted to do. We just had problems with our execution. We gotta go back to the classroom ... once we squelch the little things, things will take care of themselves," Chavka said.
Once the opening rash of turnovers settled down, it seems that things, indeed, took care of themselves. The Titans hit back-to-back, three-point shots to narrow the opening deficit to 19-11.
The Titans' hustle and effort were on full display for the remainder of the first half as the teams battled back and forth. LCC stepped up, forcing some turnovers of their own. However, the Titans only managed eight points off of the Storm's 10 turnovers. Quite often in the first half, it seemed the Titans responded by giving the ball right back to the Storm, and the Titans could not gain any ground. The Storm lead at the half, 41-31.
LCC started the second half on a quick 4-0 run that made the score 41-35 Chemeketa. It seemed as if the Titans suddenly had an opportunity to make a run and set the tone for the remainder of the game. But every time the Titans got close, the Storm responded. Back-to-back threes extended their lead to 47-35.
This began a 13-0 run for the Storm that turned a close game into a 19-point deficit. LCC had one last run in them, outscoring the Storm 9-2, to close within 65-50 with eight minutes left. But the Titans would get no closer.
Jones paced the Titans with 24 points on nine of 13 shooting and added seven rebounds. Cody Britton hit three of his eight three-point attempts and chipped in 11 points. Eave had 11 points along with three rebounds and three assists.
The Titans will try to build on their win in Oregon City on Saturday, Jan. 24, when they take on the top-ranked Clackamas Community College Cougars. They go up against the Portland Community College Panthers on Wednesday, Jan. 28. The Panthers are 0-4 in conference and 2-15 overall.
By: Trey Caldwell
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