After almost losing its double-digit lead, the American River College men’s basketball team let Merritt Community College hang around until the very end until ARC came out victorious (79-69) in the first round of the Northern California Regional Playoffs, on Feb. 27 at ARC.
ARC started the match off hot. Leading 10-0, it took Merritt College the first five minutes of the game to score a basket and from there it stayed fairly even until half-time.
Head coach Mark Girogi said that the team had plenty of turnovers and missed opportunities in the first half and if that wasn’t the case, ARC would have been up by more at halftime.
“We’ve had [turnovers] all year long really,” Girogi said. “When we win, we have five, six, seven. So it’s just again, the dedication, the focus and preparation for the game.”
Girogi also said that his bench play helped the starting five when they needed it.
“I think we just got some good bench play. Our leading scorer didn’t play very well, so hopefully we get him back on Saturday,” Girogi said. “The bench was a positive tonight.”
Girogi’s son, Jase Giorgi, scored the highest from the bench, 10 points, from three for four shooting, along with four rebounds, two steals and one assist.
The leading scorer for ARC was small forward Parker Haven who had himself an impressive night in an important game. He finished with 25 points, shooting 61 percent from the field with seven rebounds, two steals and three blocks.
Haven discussed how important it is to continue with great defense in their next playoff game against the three seed Gavilan Community College.
“Defensively we were just trying to cut the court in half, keep them on one side and don’t let them get downhill,” Haven said. “We struggled for a little bit with it, but once we started to figure it out that’s when we pulled away from them to eventually get the win.”
ARC starting point guard, Jermaine Henderson, scored 15 points on 50 percent shooting and was very happy with how his team played.
“Tonight was our night. We came in ready to play and knocked down some good shots,” Henderson said. “We’re riding on a two game win streak and hopefully we can get a third on Saturday.”
Overall, the Beavers shot exactly 50 percent as a team from the field, making seven 3-pointers and also shot 63.6 percent from the free throw line. ARC got 37 rebounds, but only had eight assists and 18 turnovers.
Haven spoke about what the team needs to do to be able to go into the Gavilan game and get the win to advance in the playoffs.
“We need to be together. Just play as a team, be together and just capitalize on our strengths. Today we didn’t have all of our people going,” Haven said. “We have more than what we showed today and we think that we should have beat them a little sooner than we did because we have so many good guys here.”
ARC next plays at Gavilan Community College on March 2 at 7 p.m. in the second round of the Northern California Regional Playoffs.