CRC hosted Sophomore Night and state-ranked #3 Santa Rosa. This game was streamed live on NorCal Sports TV. It was a pleasure highlighting this year's sophomores De'Rajaee Austin, Jordan Roberson, Gor Mikayelyan, and Everton Maxwell.
Just like when the Hawks traveled to Santa Rosa back in January and played the Bear Cubs very well, round two at Cosumnes River was definitely another great battle. In the first half, Santa Rosa jumped out ahead quickly with an 8-0 lead to start. Jalen Valverde broke the Hawks scoring silence with a three. That was one of 5 threes for Valverde on the evening. Despite not starting the game tonight because of Sophomore Night, the regularly starting freshman led the team with 23 points and 8 rebounds (a career high in scoring this season for Valverde). The Hawks started the game in zone, but Santa Rosa just didn't seem pressured enough to be rattled. They kept a comfortable lead on the Hawks until switching to man. When CRC went into their man defense and pressured more, that gave the blue and orange a spark. The Hawks began chopping away at the deficit and tying the game on an offensive rebound, and-1 putback by Jordan Roberson. CRC kept the game close down 31-30 at the half.
Tonight's game also brought back freshman big man Paul Ohiri, who was unavailable for most of Big 8 conference play due to academic ineligibility. Ohiri worked hard over winter inter-session and got back on the right track academically so he can finish the season with the Hawks. His presence was felt in his limited minutes in the first half, so Coach Jonathan James started Ohiri in the second half. Right away, Ohiri scored on a turnaround in the paint to give the Hawks their first lead of the game at 32-31. The players were excited, and that energy was needed in this tough matchup at home against the #3 in the state SRJC. Ohiri may not have shown up much in the boxscore, but he made a big difference in the small things that matter such as his post presence, occupying defenders, changing shots, rebounds, and finding open guards on the perimeter for good looks.
The Hawks held a 42-40 lead on a three by Jalen Valverde assisted by Ohiri and forcing a Santa Rosa timeout with15:10 remaining. The game was close over the next five minutes. CRC took a timeout after Jordan Roberson hit a three off an another assist from Ohiri to cut the Santa Rosa lead to 51-49. From that moment on, some untimely turnovers and a cold spell in shooting kept the game close but just out of reach. The Hawks competed well against one of the best in the state but fell short 74-67.
The final two games of Big 8 play are on the road for the Hawks with 2nd place Modesto on Tuesday and Sierra on Thursday.