Men's Basketball State Championships: Owls Soar Over Giants and Advance to Semifinals

Psalm Maduakor battles for a rebound. Image: Mike Baker
Psalm Maduakor battles for a rebound. Image: Mike Baker

Citrus Men's Basketball kicked off the 2019 CCCAA State Basketball Championships in style on Thursday, beating the Giants of College of the Sequoias 70-59 and advancing to the semifinals on Saturday. 

The Owls, who are the #2 seed from the Southern California region, took out the #3 Northern California team in a game that was close at times, but ultimately owned by Citrus. The Owls led for almost the entire game, allowing the Giants to get within 2 a couple of times, but capitalizing on forced turnovers and a sizable disparity in bench scoring to secure the quarterfinal win. 

The Owls defense was feisty as usual, stressing the Giants with full court presses and stellar execution of Head Coach Brett Lauer's scouting report. Citrus held COS to just 59 points, one of their lowest scoring games of the season. The Giants averaged 76.7 points per game in 2018-19. 

Citrus' offense also looked familiar, sinking 13 three pointers in the contest as a team on 44.8% shooting, a staple of the Citrus squad. The Owls also outpaced the Giants in fast break action, scoring 5 in transition and holding the opponent to zero. 

Sam Gagliardi led all scorers with 22 points on 7 for 13 shooting. Gagliardi drained 6 three pointers on 10 attempts to lead all players. Gagliardi recently broke the all time Citrus College record for threes in single game with 10. Jesse Elrod chipped in 15 points on 5 for 9 shooting, draining 4 three pointers, grabbing 3 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists to his teammates. Josh Caston came in under his season average, but still scored 14 points in the effort and contributed 4 assists. Colby Orr also hit double digits in points, scoring 12, grabbing 3 boards and recording 4 assists to round out his stat line.

The Owls improve to 25-6 in 2018-19, winning their last 14 straight and 19 of the last 20. Citrus moves on to the semifinals on Saturday when they take on the the City College of San Francisco. 

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