By Ryan Craighead
The Vikings used stifling defense to shut down the College of the Canyons potent offense in a second-round playoff victory, 74-41 at LBCC.
LBCC’s superior team speed and stingy man-to-man defense forced 31 turnovers with 7 blocks and 13 steals leading to 28 points off those turnovers.
Defensive star freshman center Crystal Cockerhan had 5 blocks and 11 rebounds.
“I watched a lot of video this week and did what I was supposed to do,” Cockerhan said. “I look forward to doing the same thing in our next game.”
Despite an off-night from first-team all-state forward Talia Rayford, the Vikings used a team approach to score points with four players scoring double-digit points.
The multiple-shooter approach helped the Vikings eclipse their season average for field goal percentage, shooting 43.5 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from behind the arc. Their season average was hovering around 40 percent.
The Vikings’ speed tired Canyons toward the end of the first half and allowed for an 11-0 run, resulting in 12 fast-break points. LBCC displayed hustle and disregard for personal safety by diving for loose balls and taking charges.
Sophomore forward Kaaron King received a bloody lip for her efforts, spitting excess blood through an open doorway in order to keep playing. “I caught an elbow while going up for a rebound,” King said. Like her coach and teammates, King began preparing for a showdown with Mt. SAC (Mount San Antonio College).
“We have to prepare and get better for next week,” King said.
Despite Canyon’s size advantage down low, the Vikings outscored the Cougars 26-16 on the paint. The 6-foot-4 center for Canyons, Hope Smith, forced the Vikings to shoot double their average three-pointers.
Coach Michael Anderson said, “After we received the eighth seed, we decided we have to play and move on…we controlled and dictated the game since the tip-off. We have to bring that intensity next week against Mt. SAC, and we expect a good battle.”
The lone standout for the Cougars was freshman guard Shawn Kolani who scored 16 points, including four three-pointers. Smith contributed 14 boards and one block.
Canyon head coach Greg Herrick said, “We didn’t play very well. Their (the Vikings) defense is as good as we’ve seen, in the same vein of Ventura, a very good defensive team. They didn’t allow us to do what we normally do.”
The Vikings’ success this year will continue Wednesday, March 6 in round three of the SoCal playoffs against the winner of the Mt. SAC and L.A. Pierce college game. Mt. SAC is 29-0 this season, making them favorites to advance to the state championship in Sacramento.
LBCC president Eloy Oakley was in attendance, arriving with two minutes left in the first half to cheer on the Vikings. He was in good spirits despite the heavy protests earlier in the week during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.