Citrus powers its way past College of the Sequoias, 70-59, to earn spot in CCCAA Semifinals

Citrus College's Sam Gagliardi drives against College of the Sequoias' Mike Johnson during Thursday's CCCAA Men's Basketball Championship Quarterfinal matchup at Ventura College. (Photo by Mike Baker)
Citrus College's Sam Gagliardi drives against College of the Sequoias' Mike Johnson during Thursday's CCCAA Men's Basketball Championship Quarterfinal matchup at Ventura College. (Photo by Mike Baker)

CCCAA Basketball Championship Tournament Central
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VENTURA – Citrus College stormed out of the gate and into the semifinals with a dominant 70-59 victory over College of the Sequoias to open up the CCCAA Men's Basketball Championships at Ventura College.

The Giants of College of the Sequoias scored first, with TJ Givance sinking a pair of free throws.  The 2-0 lead lasted for all of 17 seconds when Sam Gagliardi opened up the scoring for the Owls with a three, and Citrus never looked back.

Sequoias' starters were initially stymied by the Owls' aggressive full-court press and raucous bench early in the first half, not hitting their first field goal until nearly four and a half minutes into the game.  Five minutes later, they tied the game at 9-9 with a jumper by Keshawn Gibbs quickly followed by a three-pointer by Savion Johnson, but by halftime Citrus College had amassed a 35-25 lead, aided by Jesse Elrod's trio of three-pointers, including a rare four-point play to lead his team in scoring at the half with 12 points. 

Early in the second half, Sequoias went on a 7-0 run, cutting their deficit to two points and drawing Citrus's first timeout.  Bobby Santos's three-pointer at 13:29 brought the Giants to within one point of the Owls, who responded with a 10-point run of their own, making it 50-39 with 9:30 left.

Sam Gagliardi led the Owls in scoring with 22 points, adding a couple rebounds and a pair of steals. Colby Orr, Josh Caston, and Jesse Elrod also notched double figures in the points column.  While Sequoias dominated in the paint with 26 points for Citrus's 14, the Owls bench put up 29 points for the 14 by the Giants' subs. 

(Brian Mellblom, CCCSIA contributor)