By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
It took College of the Canyons roughly 20 minutes to get things on track before the Cougars were able to overcome a 20-point halftime deficit and power past Ohlone College 75-59 on Friday. The victory came in the opening game of the 29th Annual Cougar Holiday Classic.
Canyons (9-8) got off to a sluggish start in the first half with the Cougars struggling to keep pace with a hot-shooting Renegade team.
COC's starting five went a combined 4-of-17 from the floor in the first half as the Cougars quickly found themselves in a hole. Meanwhile, the Renegades' starting lineup netted 28 points, with 14 more coming off the bench.
Ohlone (3-11) looked to be in control after taking a 42-22 lead into the break, but the Cougars would soon bounce back.
Canyons quickly turned things around in a decisive five-minute stretch to open the second half that saw the Cougars produce a 14-0 run. Ohlone did not score a basket until the 14:19 mark in the period.
The Cougars eventually surged ahead at 46-45 on a fast break layup by Jude Agbasi. The two teams exchanged baskets until Canyons pulled ahead once more at 50-48 and never looked back.
Ohlone committed nine second half turnovers to help Canyons get back into the game. The Renegades also shot just under nine percent in the final 20 minutes, compared to a mark of better than 63 percent for the Cougars.
Leonard Wilson was the leading scorer for COC, finishing with a game-high 19 points, including 14 down the stretch.
Zach Phipps was next with 15 points to go with six rebounds and five steals.
Anthony Simone also reached double-digits with 10 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
Agbasi led the reserves with 10 points and three assists.
Ohlone had two players score in double figures with Kirmarje Trent and Kyle Vickery both finishing the game with 11 points.
Canyons, winners of back-to-back games, will next face L.A. Trade Tech College (9-2) at 3 p.m. Saturday in the tournament's championship game.
The Beavers defeated Orange Coast College (2-12) 101-89 on Friday to advance to the tourney's championship round for the second time in as many years.
Orange Coast won the Cougar Holiday Classic in 2017, but will not have a chance to defend its title. The Pirates will instead square off vs. Ohlone in Saturday's 1 p.m. consolation game.
COC last won the event in 2016 after rattling off wins against Orange Coast and Barstow College.
Since the tournament's inception in 1989, COC has won the event three times (1991, 1997, 2016), and finished runner up on eight occasions (2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015). The event was not held in 2007.
Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
—Photo by Jacob Velarde/COC Sports Information.