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Photo courtesy of Peter Mondrick
Photo courtesy of Peter Mondrick

Pirates start strong in the OEC

CYPRESS -- Two tough road games to start the Orange Empire Conference portion of the schedule turned into two impressive road conference wins for the Orange Coast College men's basketball team as they head into the holiday break with wins over Irvine Valley (73-66) on Tuesday and Cypress (78-64) on Thursday.

In the win over the Lasers, Sam Hunter led the way for the Pirates (8-4 overall, 2-0 in the OEC), shooting an impressive 8-for-12 from the floor en route to a game-high 20 points and five assists. Isaac Padilla added 13 points, while Josh Govett contributed 12 points and five assists. Off the bench, Mitchell Rawlins was strong down low, grabbing a team-best 10 rebounds to go along with eight points. 

Coast came out strong against the host Lasers (9-4, 0-1), jumping out to a 37-22 lead before a late first-half spurt by IVC trimmed the lead to 37-29 at the break.

Keeping a comfortable lead for most of the second half, the Lasers used another late run to get to within five at 69-64 with 1:26 remaining, but the Pirates didn't flinch and kept IVC at bay the rest of the game.

Hunter again set the pace for the Pirates two nights later against the Chargers with 25 points, while Padilla came through with 20 points, six rebounds and four assists. 

K.J. Carr hit a 3-pointer that helped Cypress trim OCC's lead to 31-27 with just over five minutes left in the first. However, the Pirate defense clamped down and held Cypress to just three points the rest of the opening session and Coast led 42-30.

Much like the IVC win, Coast managed to avoid any second-half comeback attempts from the Chargers and cruised to a steady win, OCC's third win in a row.

After the holiday break, Coast will compete at the College of the Canyons Tournament against Mt. San Antonio on Dec. 28, beginning at 3 p.m. OCC's next home game will be on Jan. 3 against Riverside, beginning at 6 p.m.