A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

SRJC Men’s Basketball rolls to another comfortable victory against Modesto for 11th straight win

Yna Bollock
Chris Holley takes possession against Modesto at Santa Rosa’s Haehl Pavilion Feb. 20, 2024.

The Bear Cubs Men’s Basketball team comfortably outplayed the Modesto Pirates at the Haehl Pavilion Tuesday evening for their 11th straight win, maintaining a share of the conference lead with Sacramento City with one game left in the regular season.

Point guard Chris Holley, sophomore, returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench over the last two games while recovering from a hamstring injury. Sophomore starter Justin Smith missed the game with an illness and Zeke Grund, sophomore, was out for his third straight game.

Holley’s effect on the offense was apparent as Modesto struggled to keep up with his quickness all game. He scored 18 points on 7-11 shooting to go with six assists and zero turnovers.

Freshman Andrew Pengel continued his excellent outside shooting, finishing 5-9 from behind the arc and leading all scorers with 19 points. He shot 41% from three-point territory through five games this month.

Disruptive defense helped the Bear Cubs push to a quick lead. They blocked two shots and tallied two steals in the first five minutes of the game while constantly forcing Modesto deep into the shot clock. An early time out and a couple of early substitutions for the Pirates made little difference.

With nine minutes left in the first half Modesto switched to a zone defense that succeeded somewhat in taking the Bearcats out of their offensive rhythm. SRJC head coach Craig McMillan said, “We took a few shots I thought were a little bit early and we didn’t get the ball in the lane enough. Most of the times we were patient we ended up scoring, but those times we didn’t was when we rushed.”

The Pirates cut the lead to 10 with just over two minutes remaining in the half, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Holley and Pengel quickly swung the momentum back in the Bear Cubs favor. They entered the locker room up 44-26 at halftime.

Santa Rosa continued to control the game in the second half. The Pirates rebounded well and played hard until the final whistle. “I’ll give them credit,” Coach McMillan said, “They didn’t quit. I was a little disappointed in our effort on the boards and with interior defense.”

Despite their effort the Pirates had no answer for the Bear Cubs stifling defense and excellent outside shooting. Santa Rosa shot 45.5% on three-point attempts for the evening. The second half highlight was a crisp baseline alley-oop dunk by Stephen Ransom, sophomore, on a pass from Holley.

Modesto looks on with defeat as Stephen Ransom attempts another basket at Santa Rosa’s Haehl Pavilion Feb. 20, 2024. (Yna Bollock)

With Holley returning from injury and Smith from an illness, the team should be finishing the regular season at nearly full strength. Coach McMillan said, “Yatyn (Anderson) did a good job filling in for Chris running the point, which is not his natural position. We’re comfortable with Yatyn off the ball, coming off screens.”

 Anderson is happy to have Holley back. “I got the best point guard in the state right here, setting me up,” he said.

The Bear Cubs last regular season game will be away at Diablo Valley on Friday at 5:30 p.m.. They will likely need a win to maintain their share of first place in the conference. Sacramento City hosts Modesto Friday evening.

They will find out on Monday who their first playoff opponent will be. If they can win their home playoff game, they would need to beat two good teams in a row on the road to head to the final eight, held at Mt. San Antonio College, according to Coach McMillan. He said, “First thing’s first, we got to beat DVC to get a piece of the league title.”

It was the last regular season home game for eight Santa Rosa sophomores. They admitted after the game that it was a sad day, of sorts, but spirits were high in the locker room. “We’re thinking playoffs,” said Stephen Ransom. “But regular season-wise, it’s been a good two years.”

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About the Contributors
Sean Shanks
Sean Shanks, Reporter
Sean is in his first semester at the Oak Leaf. He would like to travel and tell people's stories, partially because life can be so insufferably boring, but mostly because people's stories are beautiful and accountability is awesome.
Yna Bollock
Yna Bollock, Reporter
Yna Bollock is in her first semester with the Oak Leaf. She has been working on prerequisites for the last two semesters and is elated to begin major specific requirements for the journalism program, specifically photojournalism. Prior to pursuing a photojournalism degree, she graduated from SRJC’s culinary program in 2013. In 2020, following a layoff from the hospitality industry, Yna graduated from the CNA program in June in an effort to stay gainfully employed throughout the pandemic. Now in 2024, she is on track to graduate with a bachelor’s of arts in photojournalism.

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