Canyons Falls in Championship Game of Cougar Holiday Classic

College of the Canyons vs. L.A. Trade Tech College in championship game of 29th Annual Cougar Holiday Classic on Dec. 29, 2018.

By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director

College of the Canyons came up on the losing end of an 86-68 battle vs. L.A. Trade Teach College in the championship game of the 29th Annual Cougar Holiday Classic on Saturday at the Cougar Cage.

Canyons (9-9) had defeated Ohlone College in the tournament's opening game on Friday, but couldn't get past a talented LATT (10-2) team that shot better than 53 percent from the floor and committed just 12 turnovers in the game. By comparison, COC shot just 41 percent as a team and committed 25 turnovers. 

The Beavers built a 51-32 lead in the opening half to put a stranglehold on the game. Canyons actually outscored LATT in the second half, cutting the lead to single digits on three separate occasions, but could not overcome the first-half deficit.

COC freshman Zach Phipps led the Cougars with 15 points on a 6-of-17 shooting night. Freshmen Leonard Wilson and Denzel Nwanguma both finished with 10 points, and sophomore Anthony Simone added nine.

For his eforts, Wilson was named to the Cougar Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team.

Freshman Wil Clark led the Cougars with eight rebounds in 11 minutes of action, while freshman Staffon Chiles led the reserve unit with eight points and six boards.

LATT was led by Fredelin De La Cruz who finished with 18 points and five rebounds and Tyler Jelks who added 11 points and three assists. Brian Simmons had 10 points and two assists to help the winning effort.

Jelks and Simmons were honored with All-Tournament Team selections along with Aidan Graham (Ohlone College) and Nate Harding (Orange Coast).

The Beavers defeated Orange Coast College 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 by defeating the Beavers, with LATT avenging that loss by taking home the 2018 tourney title.

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.

Canyons will now look to complete the non-conference portion of its schedule, before Western State Conference (WSC) contests begin on Jan. 23.

The Cougars next travel to Saddleback College a 2 p.m. on Friday Jan. 4, then wrap-up the non-conference schedule at home vs. Ventura College at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 11.

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.