Photo by David Nurse
The script couldn't have been written any better.
The Marauder men's basketball team expected to take the 2-hour van ride to San Bernardino College, but found out it will host No. 18 Citrus College in the semi-finals of 2016 Southern California Regional bracket on Wednesday night.
The Owls shocked No. 2 San Bernardino Valley College with a thrilling 94-91 victory over the Wolverines, Saturday night at SBVC. Two of the three losses by the Wolverines came from Western States Conference-South Division teams.
The news that the Marauders will receive a home game bodes well. This season AVC is an impressive 11-0 and has defeated Citrus both times when the two teams faced each other. The Marauders are now looking for the hat trick against the Owls, which suffered a 6-game losing skid midway through the season.
Although it wasn't easy, AVC defeated Citrus 97-89 at home on Jan. 6. The Marauders saw themselves trailing 39-23 late in the second half but rallied to outscore Citrus 59-39 in the second half for the victory. Cory Dollarhide torched the Owls as the sharpshooter came off the bench to score a game-high 24 points including six 3-pointers to help fuel the comeback. All five Citrus starters scored in double figures.
In the teams' second meeting, it was Joseph Moorer who finished with 22 points for the Marauders. AVC (24-6), which was ranked as high as No. 1 this season, led by as many as 14 points only to see its lead diminish, however, came back in the end for the victory, something it hadn't done at Citrus (16-13) since joining the Western States Conference.
"If you had a choice you'd rather be at home. Citrus is on fire and we're playing a heck of a team. They're playing with a lot of confidence right now," AVC head coach John Taylor said. "But we like our chances at home. I think both teams are very similar (in style) and really the only advantage we have is at home."
Both teams have won six of their last seven games and the Marauders are riding a 4-game winning streak. While the Marauders are undefeated at home this season, Citrus has an impressive 7-5 record on the road.
"It's an advantage for us being at home. We definitely find ways to win at home, but it's tough to beat a team three times, especially a conference team," said Moorer, who is averaging 17.5 points per game against the Owls this season. "We expected San Bernardino, but we knew Citrus was no slouch. We just have to continue to keep playing hard. We know what we're capable of. One game at a time."
Should make for an interesting game.