Renegades clinch outright conference title with 82-57 win over Wildcats

Mohamed Bafakih, Contributing Editor

It has been a long time coming for the Bakersfield College men’s basketball program as they secured their first Western State Conference South Division title since 1998 with an 82-57 win over West L.A. Wednesday night at Gil Bishop Sports Center.

The Renegades (22-5 overall, 11-2 Western State Conference – South Division) came off a final-minute loss at rival Antelope Valley on Feb. 13, 70-68, but head coach Rich Hughes knew his players weren’t willing to let that loss disconcert them heading into the regular season home finale against the Wildcats.

“You just want to get it done and you want to be the one to decide who wins the conference and I’m glad we were able to do that,” Hughes said.

BC was led by four sophomores on “Sophomore Night,” as they all finished in double figures. Deandre Dickson totaled 22 points (11-of-13 FG), 17 rebounds and five blocks. Jameik Riviere nearly notched a triple-double as he finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Guards Lawrence Moore and Nick Velasquez each had 14 points apiece.

The Renegades held the Wildcats to just 25 percent from the field (18-of-72) and three-point line (6-of-24).

For 11 of those 18 years without a conference championship, Hughes and associate coach Aaron Chavez have been the orchestrators of this program.

A program that has been a mainstay for players coming from all over, looking to get that chance to prove their worth.

The seven sophomores who were honored Wednesday on “Sophomore Night” proved their worth to Bakersfield College men’s basketball and are deserving of being crowned conference champions.

Whether it may be bringing in late an undersized 5-foot-9 guard from Jamaica Queens, N.Y. in Riviere, his tenacity and doglike aggression has made him special as he can score and dish out the rock effectively, proving why he’s the state’s assists leader at 8.1 per game.

Or 6-9 swingman and double-double machine Dickson, who comes from a small farming community outside of Fresno and took time off away from basketball, but eventually realizing he’s waited for times like this. Also from around the area, a long 6-6 forward in CJ Johnson, who although was an honorable mention last season, underwent a leg surgery during the offseason and made his way back to fill in when called upon.

Take the third-year guys as well. Chicago native Moore and Dequan Green, from Georgia, who both were all-conference players two years ago had to sit out last season and eventually are enduring a priceless time to be part of this. And of course, the energy and locker room guy a team must always have, which in this case is Sky Seay from Brooklyn. All of these guys put in the sacrifices for the betterment of the team.

The most interesting route, perhaps of all, is Western Washington (Division II) transfer Velasquez. From Hawaii, the sharpshooter found a perfect fit with BC and has remained positive with the process of being a bounce-back.

All these routes have come together to share one road, which has converted into a conference championship title.

With the playoffs looming after BC concludes the regular season on Saturday at Santa Monica, the goal for Hughes is to host as many postseason games, but whether they’re on the road or at home where they finished the season 10-0, it doesn’t alter the chances this unit has.

“We can play very well on the road, but the goal is to host as many games. We just have to play playoff basketball.”