Moorpark Topples Canyons : Raider Free Throws Clinch WSC Win
It started early in the first half with a dispute over a goaltending call against Moorpark College forward Roger Thomas.
But that was only the first of several heated exchanges between Moorpark Coach Al Nordquist and the officials in a Western State Conference men’s basketball game Wednesday night at College of the Canyons.
By the time cooler heads had prevailed, however, it was Canyons that had reason to be upset over a 77-70 decision that represented its third consecutive loss.
Nordquist initially took exception to a goaltending call against Thomas in the first half. The Moorpark coach reasoned that Thomas, at 6-2 and suffering from tendinitis in his left knee, was physically incapable of such a violation.
For his part, Thomas argued that a foul should have been called against Canyons’ Deon Myricks on the play.
“There is no way I can outjump him,” Thomas said of the 6-7 Myricks. “That call just does not make any sense to me.”
It made no sense to Nordquist, either.
“That guy was all over his back,” Nordquist said.
Despite that and several other disputes, Moorpark managed to rally from a 41-32 halftime deficit. The Raiders went on a 14-4 run in the first 4 minutes of the second half and pulled ahead to stay with 10 minutes left.
Canyons mounted a rally to close to with a point at 65-64 with 2:16 left. But Moorpark scored its last 12 points from the free-throw line to seal the win.
The loss further damaged postseason aspirations for Canyons, which dropped to 11-12, 2-4 in conference play.
“We’ve had trouble all year coming out after halftime and getting the motor running,” Canyons Coach Lee Smelser said. “We just did not execute down the stretch.”
Unlike Nordquist, Smelser did not consider the officiating to be a problem.
“The officiating was not a factor at all,” Smelser said.
Nordquist credited the Raider defense, which limited the Cougars to 29 points in the second half, for the win.
“Canyons is a better team than that,” Nordquist said. “I just think they had a bad second half and we picked up our level of defense and that really made the difference.”
Canyons held its biggest lead in the closing minutes of the first half. The Cougars outscored the Raiders, 10-2, in the last 3 minutes to take a 41-32 lead at intermission.
Thomas scored 19 points to lead the Raiders (12-9, 3-2). Sean Young added 17 points, including 4 clutch free throws in the last 2 minutes. Steve Murphy had 16 points and Bruce Watson added 15 for Moorpark.
Steve Valenzuela led Canyons with 20 points and Kevin Price added 16.