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Viking Men's Basketball Powers Past El Camino in 109-98 Victory

Freshman Charles Smith tied his career-high with 25 points in a 109-98 conference victory over El Camino on Friday evening. (pic by Jocelyn Gonzalez)
Freshman Charles Smith tied his career-high with 25 points in a 109-98 conference victory over El Camino on Friday evening. (pic by Jocelyn Gonzalez)

In the words of Head Coach Barry Barnes, it was a must-win contest for the Long Beach City College Viking's men's basketball team as they entered their second-consecutive South Coast Conference (SCC) matchup of the week by facing off against the El Camino College Warriors on home hardwood. In a high-flying offensive showing from both teams, the offensive prowess of Long Beach was too much for El Camino to handle down the stretch, thus leading to a 109-96 victory.

It was a tight-knit game from the get-go, as both squads traded buckets in the early minutes. El Camino eventually worked towards an eight-point lead early in the first half, but it was quickly squandered by the Vikings. Freshman guard Charles Smith (Downey, CA) brought LBCC back to within two points by hitting a three pointer and working his way to the rim for a layup to bring the score to 18-16 with 15 minutes remaining.

Freshman guard William English (Long Beach, CA) began to stir up the pot and bring the Vikings a point closer after drilling two deep three pointers. Smith continued on to give the Vikings their first lead since the opening minute with a bucket in the paint. Freshman guard Matt Arrivas (Sacramento, CA) expanded the Long Beach led to five after rising up and slamming home a rim-rattling dunk, leading to a Long Beach timeout.

The long range shot continued to flush early as Smith and English combined for consecutive triples to continue the Vikings positive momentum. Smith worked his way to the line the following two possessions and hit all four of his free throws to bring the Viking's lead to 44-31 with just over eight minutes left in the first half.

After a small stagnant offensive moment, sophomore guard Justin Richardson (Lynwood, CA) took the momentum into his own hands and rose up for an emphatic, left-handed, base line jam that posterized an El Camino defender to swing the momentum back in Long Beach's favor. Sophomore guard Breamon Richard followed with a stop-and-pop three-pointer which eventually led to a 57-42 advantage at the halfway mark.

LBCC was slow to wake up in the early minutes of the second half, but freshman guard Mark Neal Jr. (Long Beach, CA) revitalized his squad by driving to the hoop and finishing an off-balanced and-one play. Richard began to heat up from downtown by drilling two three points that was sandwiched with an English jumper leading to a 71-62 advantage after the opening five minutes.

English continued to haunt the Warrior's defense by hitting three shots from downtown in a matter of four minutes. His long-range sniping was infectious as freshman guard Duwane Hicks (Detroit, MI) and Richardson stepped back behind the arc for threes as well intermittently between his hot shooting.

With the effective shooting from distance, driving lanes began to open and the Vikings utilized the opportunities. Richardson converted an and-one play, while English knocked down a poised floater. The Warriors continued to attempt to make a comeback, but Long Beach's 10-for-13 stint from the charity stripe in the remaining three minutes was icing on the cake en route to a 109-98 victory.

English was dynamic in the contest by netting a career-high 36 points. He went 6-for-11 from distance while finishing the night 12-for22 from the floor.

Richard stretched his double-digit scoring streak to 18 games by recording 20 points. He added five assists in the process. Smith was impossible to defend by scoring 25 points, hitting a trio of three pointers, and hauling in eight rebounds.

The Vikings remain undefeated in conference play with a 2-0 record and a 6-12 overall mark. They will face off against LA Southwest on Wednesday, January 25th on the road at 5 p.m.