Mounties Closeout Regular Season Strong

Men’s basketball defeats Rio Hondo in regular season closer


Diego Renteria

Shaquil Bender opens up to begin skying for the slam in the season closer against the Rio Hondo Roadrunners on Feb. 25.

The Mt. SAC men’s basketball team has been having one of their best seasons in recent memory.

This year has been full of great highlights, such as an undefeated record in January and finishing second in their division behind powerhouse East Los Angeles College. The team has greatly improved in comparison to last year, going into the Feb. 25 matchup against the extremely shorthanded Rio Hondo Roadrunners. The Mounties were looking to finish the season strong.

The game started out like usual for the Mounties, by winning the tip and immediately getting into their play sets. They would capitalize on their first possession getting an easy bucket putting them on the board first. The game looked like it was going to be like most of their wins this season.

Yet the scrappy Roadrunners would put up a strong fight in the first half. The Mounties would try to take control of the game early, but the Roadrunners would fight back. Both teams would begin to trade bucket after bucket for most of the half until either team went on a cold streak. Rio Hondo would then launch a barrage of threes that put a lot of pressure on the Mounties through most of the half.

As the Roadrunners tried to continue to pile on the three-pointers, the Mounties would stick to their game plan of a patient offense. The Mounties would maintain their lead with smart passes, crashing the boards, and tenacious defense. The highlight of the first half would be an authoritative “steal and slam” by Freshman Guard Shaquil Bender. Through the final waning minutes of the first half the Mounties would hold on to a one-point lead over the Roadrunners 39-38.

Looking back at the first half, the Mounties knew they were better than their play up until that point. Going into the second half, they would be looking to get back into the form they had shown in their previous meeting.

The second half began exactly like the first. The Mounties would come out aggressive on offense. They would constantly drive and kick to another teammate, looking for someone with an open shot. The Mounties would also pick up the tempo as well, pushing the ball up the court, tiring out the shorthanded Roadrunner squad.

This looked like an entirely new Mounties squad. The Roadrunner would try to counteract the Mountie assault by applying full-court pressure defense. They would try and trap the Mounties, but would fail to do so as the Mounties calmly maneuvered through the Roadrunners’ defense. One of the times up the court, the Mountie press break would cut through the Roadrunners and set up guard Khalid Wilkins to find forward Christian Jones for the alley-oop slam.

In the last 10 minutes of the game the Roadrunners finally went cold. The Roadrunners struggled to find the bottom of the bucket.

Mt. SAC tired out Rio Hondo which allowed them to win with a final score of 98-72.

The Mounties finished the regular season on a high note and look to continue a winning streak into the playoffs. The team will play their first playoff game at home on March 1 at 7 p.m. against Mt. San Jacinto College.