CYPRESS, CA – The Cypress College men's basketball team is set to begin conference play as the OEC season tips off on Wednesday, January 8th at 5:00 pm when Cypress hosts the Saddleback College Gauchos.
The Chargers completed non-conference play on January 4th with a 73-65 loss at Citrus College. Despite the loss, Cypress enters Orange Empire Conference play with an 11-5 overall record, having won four of their last six games.
Three of the Chargers five losses have come against opponents currently ranked in the CCCMBCA State Top-20 Poll, including No. 8 Long Beach, No. 11 San Diego Miramar, and No. 18 Citrus. Only No. 1 ranked Fullerton College, who are 15-1 overall, enter Orange Empire Conference action with a better record than the Chargers, while both Riverside and Santiago Canyon also enter OEC play at 11-5.
Cypress has gotten it done thus far on the defensive end of the floor, topping the CCCAA's points allowed per game category for a majority of the season. The Chargers hold opponents to just 60 points per game on 40% shooting and a state-best 28% from three-point range.
Offensively the Chargers rely heavily upon sophomore Mike Magee, who leads the Chargers as the OEC's leading scorer, averaging 18 points per game on 46% shooting. Magee has proven his versatility on the offensive end, scoring at or above the rim and from beyond the arc, where he's shooting at a 43% clip.
Coach Alhadeff has also turned to sophomore guard Isaac Stell and freshman center Kae'jon Barnes early in the season. Barnes is the team's leading rebounder and shot blocker, grabbing 7.9 boards and collecting 1.3 blocks per game, while being the Chargers' second leading scorer at 11.2 points per game. Stell leads the team in assists (3.1) and steals (1.3) per game, while chipping in 9.1 points per game.
After a strong start to the year, the Chargers have an opportunity to boost their resume with some signature wins in the gauntlet that is the Orange Empire Conference. They have proven they can hang with some of the top-ranked teams in the state, but need to get over the hump if they hope to earn themselves a CCCAA playoff berth for the third time in five seasons under Coach Alhadeff.
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