Chargers outlast the Vikings


Sophomore guard Bonard Johnson Jr. from Long Beach gets beat off the dribble by sophomore guard Grant Sii from Cypress playing at Long Beach City on Feb. 22, 2023. Photo credit: Yasmin Sotelo

Quinn Cisneros, Staff Writer

The Cypress Chargers advanced to the second round of the CCCAA Regionals Wednesday night, fueled by multiple long runs in the second half to defeat the Vikings in Long Beach, 76-71.

The player that stood out in Wednesday’s action was sophomore guard Grant Sii. He certainly was in charge for the Chargers. The sophomore guard scored 20 points, with 19 of them coming in a huge second half while also grabbing four rebounds, one steal, and an assist.

“I just wanted to play and believe in my game. My teammates had my back and I eventually let the game come to me.” Sii said.

It was a back-and-forth game that saw the score tied 17-17 about midway through the 1st half. The Vikings would then go on a 9-0 run to take a commanding lead. Chargers sophomore guard Cristian Butler would earn a flopping technical, which would keep the Vikings run alive.

Things were looking down for the Chargers as they went into the half down 40-30 while shooting 25.9% from the field. On the other side, the Vikings shot an impressive 53.3% from the field. Freshman forward Allen Wright kept the Chargers afloat scoring 14 points 1st half points.

Freshmen Allen Wright box out to make a shot at Long Beach City College at Wed 22, 2023
Cypress freshmen forward Allen Wright backs down Long Beach sophomore guard Shane Hunter, looking for his shot at Long Beach City College on Feb. 22, 2023. Photo credit: Yasmin Sotelo

“Guard somebody! We did an awful job guarding. You know we are number four in the state in points against, we gave up 40 at halftime,” said a very animated Cypress Head Coach Andrew Alhadeff. “It’s just our principles, we did not stick to them. We reached and were undisciplined. I got into them pretty good about it. Defense wins games.”

After a false fire alarm delayed the start of the second half, Cypress (18-11) came storming out the gates, going on a 9-0 run to start the second half shrinking the Long Beach lead to 1 point. Not long after, the Vikings would go on a mini 7-0 run of their own to make the score 47-39.

Cypress freshman guard Blake Ballard sizing up his defender, Long Beach freshman guard Kemaree Germany at Long Beach City College on Feb. 22, 2023.
Cypress freshman guard Blake Ballard sizing up his defender, Long Beach freshman guard Kemaree Germany at Long Beach City College on Feb. 22, 2023. Photo credit: Yasmin Sotelo

At around the 10:30 mark, the Chargers would soon go on a 11-0 run led by Sii who had eight of those 11 points to take their first lead since the early minutes of the first half and never looked back. It sure was a game of runs for both sides.

After the Chargers took the lead, the game would see a four-minute scoring drought for both teams while the Vikings seemed to have chemistry issues of their own down the stretch.

With a couple of clutch buckets from Sii and Wright that would cushion the Chargers lead, punctuated by Butler’s crunch time sinking free throws, would seal the deal for the Chargers. Tensions were at an all-time high postgame as the Chargers were not afraid to let the Vikings know what they just done as the two teams had to be cooled down.

Long Beach City (16-13) came into the game having multiple scorers on the offensive end. Sophomore guard Lorenzo Marsh came into the game averaging 15.2 points a game but was held to just three points on 1-11 shooting.

“Marsh is a very good player. We knew he was tough. He needed to see bodies; that was our whole game plan against him. To be honest early on he missed a couple wide open looks. We just got lucky we missed some coverages,” Alhadeff said while also giving credit to freshman guard Lake Ballard for guarding Marsh.

Wright contributed 21 points, seven rebounds, and two steals of his own. While Butler added 14 points in the Cypress win.

Sophomore Cristian Butler throwing a 3 point for Cypress College at Long Beach City College on Wed. 22 2023
Cypress sophomore guard Cristian Butler holds his follow through after releasing the ball from 3-point land at Long Beach City College on Feb. 22, 2023. Photo credit: Yasmin Sotelo

Sophomore guard Tremond Johnson scored 18 points to lead the Vikings followed by sophomore guard Bonard Johnson Jr adding 16 points of his own in the losing effort.

The last 10-15 minutes of the game had all the feelings of a true playoff game: high intensity, nerves, and excitement. For the Vikings coaching, the big question mark seemed to be why did Head Coach Barry Barnes sit star player Johnson Jr. for seven of the last eight minutes of the game while also keeping co-star Marsh benched for his offensive woes. This led to the Vikings offense struggling to find a rhythm down the stretch.

The Chargers would send the Vikings packing to the off-season and this win meant a lot for the program. “This is huge for our program. We started the season 1-5 and we were looking pretty down in the dumps. For our program this is our second year in a row winning a first round game and you know I’m not satisfied, we’re not satisfied,” Alhadeff said.

The #19 seed Chargers will now hit the road again to face the #2 seed Citrus College Owls (25-3) at 7 p.m. on Saturday Feb. 25th.