By Will Ranos / Sports Editor
With thrilling wins over Cerritos and Los Angeles Southwest, the Vikings men’s and women’s basketball teams will be looking ahead to the Southern California Regional Playoffs.
The Southern California Regional Playoffs will begin for the men (21-6) at home against No. 9 seed Chaffey (20-10) on Friday, Feb. 27, at 7 pm. The women (17-10) will play at No. 5 seed Palomar College (24-3) on Saturday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m.
The men’s team beat Cerritos, 68-67, on Wednesday, Feb. 20. LBCC had a lead as big as 14 points 14 and a half minutes into the second half, but Cerritos was able to bring the game within two after going on a 15-5 point run.
Michael Shivers, a freshman guard, was huge for the Vikings in the end. Shivers had five of his 13 points in the last two minutes, including a few crucial free throws. Cerritos had multiple chances to tie the game, but struggled to make free throws down the stretch.
Sophomore guard Brandon Staton led the Vikings in points with 18 points, seven rebounds and four steals.
On his 18 points, Staton said, “Usually I’m a 3-point shooter, but I’ve been missing lately, so I’ve just been trying to get to the basket and be more aggressive.”
Elijah Gaines, a sophomore guard, helped lead the team to victory with 14 points, four assists and a team-high 12 rebounds. The Vikings’ season leading scorer, sophomore guard Chris Spencer, had nine points along with five rebounds, two assists, one steal and a block.
Coach Barry Barnes said, “We didn’t play well tonight, but we grinded it out. Tonight was survival.”
Later that night, the Vikings’ women’s team narrowly pulled out a win over Cerritos, 57-55.
Going into overtime, LBCC sophomore guard Armani Wiley started by hitting a 3-pointer 24 seconds in. From there, the Vikings didn’t let go of the lead, with the sophomore guard scoring seven of the team’s eight points in overtime.
Wiley had a solid all-around game with 20 points, five assists, five steals, three rebounds and two blocks. Darshana Taafua, a center, had a dominant game, scoring 16 points, along with 20 rebounds, three blocks, three steals and three assists.
Despite her success, Taafua was still critical of herself. “I need to improve down low. I played well on defense, but I need to do better on offense,” she said.
Talking about the difference between the first half and the second half, Coach Michael Anderson said, “We competed in the second half. We really played hard. The defense was huge and it made up for our 25 turnovers.”