“It was a rough first half. We played sloppy basketball, but in the second half, we played the way we need to play,” said Cougar head coach Larry Mendez.
The two teams battled evenly over the first 20 minutes. Although, the Cougars missed way too many shots and committed too many turnovers to please their coach.
The Cougars would race ahead by about 10 points and then allow the Pirates to catch up. It was a 36-27 game with about four minutes left with the CBC men holding the lead. In just a little over two minutes, the visitors had a one-point advantage at 37-36 thanks to a 10-0 run fueled by a few turnovers and missed shots.
The Cougars responded and regained the lead, but the Pirates kept close as the first half wound down. It was a 45-41 game at the break with the CBC team holding the slim lead.
The halftime speech from coach Mendez must have been a eye-opener for the Cougars. The defensive pressure went up a notch, and the CBC shooting became almost automatic. Victoria College turnovers were quickly turned into transition points for the hosts.
CBC sprinted through a 21-8 run to open the second half and never looked back at the floundering Pirates. The Cougars recorded 49 second half points while holding the visitors to a mere 25 tallies. The hosts’ size and speed helped in the scoring run as they dominated the glass and gave the Pirates just one and done most of the second half.
Brandon Golden led the Cougars with 23 points on the night. DeeMarco Richardson followed with 17, and Phadarius Taylor contributed 12. La’ Darrien Williams was also in double figures with 10.
The victory improves the Cougar season record to 19-9, the “winningest” season in school history. The Cougars ended their regular season with the win on Monday night but are scheduled for a play-in game with Angelina Junior College on March 5 in Lufkin to qualify for the Region 14 postseason tournament in Tyler.
“Next Monday will be a big game for the program. If we win, it will mark the first time to go to the regional tournament, so a lot is riding on next Monday,” Mendez said.
“Our guys have been looking forward to the game.”