RANCHO CUCAMONGA – Even Chaffey College basketball coach Jeff Klein knew his team’s 19-1 run to start the game wouldn’t hold up. It didn’t. But the Panthers hung on to beat visiting Bakersfield College 82-78 in the second round of the community college state playoffs.
The game featured two teams that like the up-tempo game so it isn’t unusual for the teams to exchange runs. The teams did that much of the game.
“That’s the way we both play,” Klein said. “It’s a game of runs and fortunately we had the last one. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy and they were coming back.”
The eighth-seeded Panthers (27-6) stormed out to a 19-1 lead with the ninth-seeded Renegades (23-10) going 0-for-12 from the field and not managing their first field goal until 13:34 was left in the half.
Bakersfield rallied back and got within two at 40-38 with 40 seconds left but trailed 43-38 at the break.
Chaffey again put some distance between itself and its foe, establishing a double digit lead next at 64-53 with 11:53 left. Again Bakersfield answered, this time cutting it to 68-66 on a bucket by Darrin Dorsey.
It was tight the rest of the way but it was the Renegades making the mistakes down the stretch. Down 77-72 with 2:43 left Bakersfield turned the ball over on two straight possessions. Later trailing 78-72 with 1:14 to play, Dorsey missed two free throws.
The Panthers were eventually pushed. Eion Lewis scored on a runner in the lane to cut the deficit to two at 78-76 with 48 seconds remaining. The Renegades’ Jamar Harrison then stole the ensuing inbounds and went up for an easy two to tie the game for the first
time at 78.
Then it was Chaffey sophomore forward Winston Robinson taking over. He hit two free throws for a two-point lead with 34 seconds to go, then converted two more after yet another Bakersfield turnover, its 23rd of the night with six seconds left.
Robinson tallied 29 while Lamar Williams contributed 12 and Nick Turner 13.
“I like the pressure,” Robinson said. “I feel like I worked hard enough to come through in those situations. I feel comfortable when the game is in my hands.”
Chaffey’s win continued a strong run by the Foothill Conference which qualified five teams for the playoffs. All four that have played thus far have won a playoffs game with San Bernardino Valley College playing a home playoff game tonight against West Los Angeles.
“We feel like we have the toughest conference in the state and those games get us ready for situations like this,” Klein said.
The Panthers advance to play next Saturday against the winner of tonight’s game between Saddleback, the top-seeded team in the Southern region, and No. 17 seed Cerritos.