BC remains unstoppable at home; stay on top of conference lead

Mohamed Bafakih, Contributing Editor

BC vs. Antelope Valley on Jan. 20; Photos by Joe Bergman and Mason J. Rockfellow

BC vs. Santa Monica on Jan. 27; Photos by Joe Bergman and Mason J. Rockfellow


BC vs. Citrus on Jan. 30; Photos by Joe Bergman


As the second half of Western State Conference-South Division play gets underway, it may be just a tad early to be thinking conference championship, or even state championship for the Bakersfield College men’s basketball team, but clearly this has been nothing short of a special year.

This same time last year, head coach Rich Hughes had one thing in mind: “We’re back to being 0-0.”

That was following a 2-5 start to the first half of conference, and the Renegades did rally to win six of their next seven games. The “0-0” mindset made a difference, as they were focused on each individual game without looking afar, which eventually led to a playoff berth.

Nevertheless, this is a new year, and a new and vastly improved team with state championship aspirations.

In what’s considered one of the toughest conferences in the state, Bakersfield (18-4 overall, 7-1 WSC-South) has breezed by its Western State Conference- South Division foes with an impressive win over then-13th ranked Antelope Valley on Jan. 20, 95-74, and followed it with another impressive win over Santa Monica on Jan. 27, 81-63.

Both games were here at the Gil Bishop Sports Complex, where BC is currently undefeated at 7-0 including the preseason, and outscoring its opponents by an average of 23.7 points per game.

“I’ve had teams that weren’t very good at home, and this team seems to respond well at home,” Hughes said. “The results have been good.”

The results have also been good on both sides of the floor, as BC is among the state’s leaders in various offensive and defensive categories.

For instance, the team’s point average of 85.1 points per game is fourth in the state, and because of their ball movement, they’re ranked third in the state in assists per game at 19.1.

Accounting for nearly half those assists is the state’s assist leader, 5-foot-9 sophomore point guard Jameik Riviere, with 8.4 per game.

“By now I know what everybody can do. I can get them the ball and expect them to make plays,” Riviere said following a 15-point, eight-assist performance in the team’s win over Santa Monica.

In the win against Santa Monica, the Renegades were paced by double-figure scoring performances from four of the five starters, led by Lawrence Moore’s 19 points (8-for-14 from the field; 15 points in the second half).

Moore, who sat out last season following an impressive freshman season and has the most experience of all the players on the team, is optimistic about this cast’s chances of making a deep run.

“I think we can compete with anybody in the state; as long as we play together as a team and do the things we know we’re capable of, we can play with anyone…for now, we just can’t underestimate the teams we play to finish out the rest of conference,” Moore said.

Moore is third in the state in steals per game at 2.6, an area where BC (as a team) ranks in third place with 11.1 per game.

Defensively, the Renegades are flourishing and making it an arduous proposition for other teams to find a groove.
Because they provide length on the perimeter with guards who are long and quick – making it easier for them to cover ground – and interior size with 6-9 sophomore Deandre Dickson holding up the middle, BC has used this to its advantage to straggle teams and force turnovers (16.9 per game, seventh in the state), which leads to transition scoring.

“One of the things we got to rely on is getting points from transitions and steals,” Hughes mentioned after the team’s conference home-opener win – by 41 points – against College of the Canyons on Jan. 9, 99-58.

Fortunately for Hughes and his team, that has remained constant for the Renegades, and the overall continuity has remained for the Renegades as well.

Whether one player is having an off night or two, the difference this year’s team has is that they’re playing as a collective.

Freshman guard James Pendleton has offered big playmaking and perimeter-shooting presence off the bench, and sharpshooter Western Washington University transfer Nick Velasquez is shooting a team-high 45 percent from beyond the arc.

Inside, last season’s conference MVP, Dickson, is continuing an impressive season even with his thumb wrapped up, averaging totals of 17.6 points per game and 11.4 rebounds per game.

Alongside Dickson, freshman Shane Christie has shown flashes of his game as he led the team in scoring with 16 points (8-for-10 FT) off the bench in a 83-70 win over Citrus (10-11, 4-4 WSC-South) on Jan. 30.

“We have a lot more people who can score,” Dickson said, which he finds to be a difference with this group as opposed to last year’s. “I try to make it a point to take less shots and get other people shots, because we have people who can score on any given night…we’re just going to keep playing and try to keep winning.”

With seven more conference games remaining on the schedule, BC is knocking on the doorstep of a conference title as they hold a two-game lead in first place and looking to build on their current four-game winning streak.

KEY STATS (AS OF 2/2/15):

OFFENSIVE STATISTICS: FG made per game: 32.5 (2nd in state) Assists per game: 19.1 (3rd in state) Points per game: 85.1 (4th in state) FG percentage: 48.5 (9th in state) 3PT percentage: (11th in state)

DEFENSIVE STATISTICS: Steals per game: 11.1 (3rd in state) Blocks per game: 4.7 (7th in state) Opponents’ turnovers: 16.3 (7th in state) Opponents’ FG pct.: 40.6 (11th in state)