On Nov. 29, 2013, the Citrus Owls kicked off their annual Neil Edwards Classic by hosting the Orange Coast Pirates.
In a highly energetic 40 minutes, the Owls were able to hold off the Pirates in a 77-67 victory.
Although the Owls turned the ball over 24 times and trailed for most of the game, they were able to reach the foul line a total of 54 times, slowing the game down and taking the Pirates out of their preferred high tempo style of play.
In the first half, the Pirates applied full court pressure and showed multiple looks on the defensive end by switching between man to man and zone defense. The Owls’ ball handlers couldn’t get past the man defense or break down the zone resulting in a low number of good looks.
The Pirates went into the half leading the Owls 38-34 as a result of the pressure and stout defense.
“We weren’t ready to go today, when you play against a team like Orange Coast that is very well coached and plays hard and competes, you need to be ready to go or you’re going to get punched in the face early and that’s what happened to us,” Owls’ head coach Chris Victor said.
The Owls came out of the break looking to feed freshman big man Chris Reyes.
“We came out of the half wanting to move the ball around the court,” Reyes said. “Inside out offense is what we wanted to do.”
Reyes carried the Owls in the second half finishing with 20 points, 14 rebounds and set a program record for a single game with six blocks.
“It was my teammates that helped me out the most, thanks to them I had a great game today,” Reyes said.
Reyes was 8 of 14 from the field and 4 of 6 from the free throw line and was able to protect the rim by rejecting Pirates and altering shots in the paint.
“We just have to make an effort to get him the ball,” Victor said. “He’s a very good player . . . he’s a weapon down there.”
The Owls would take the lead for good with just over two minutes left to play as the Pirates did not score a single point in the last three minutes.
“We didn’t play smart and we didn’t play together. We started playing selfish as individuals on both ends of the floor,” Pirates head coach Steve Spencer.
The Owls were able to ice the game and take the Pirates out of the rhythm by converting their free throws late on.
With the win, the Owls improved to 3-1 in the season and hosted #3 ranked Sierra College Nov. 30. Citrus will play their final game of the Neil Edwards Classic today against Chaffey College at 6 p.m.