Renegades make history in win vs. West LA College

BC wins back-to-back conference titles

Sophomore guard Shane Christie (3) dunks against LA Pierce.

Jesse Najera

Sophomore guard Shane Christie (3) dunks against LA Pierce.

Sam L. Jaime, Sports Editor

For the first time in school history, the Bakersfield College men’s basketball program has won back-to-back Western State Conference titles.

To accomplish this feat, the Renegades had to get through a tightly contested matchup against West LA College on Feb. 11. Much like their Jan. 25 contest against West LA, the Renegades battled through both halves, at times being up by 10, and tied at others.

Ultimately, they managed to defend a four point lead in the game’s final moments, ensuring they had at least tied for the Western State Conference title with the 70-66 victory. “At this point, it’s do-or-die for them, they know they have to win,” said Renegades coach Rich Hughes. “I knew they were going to compete for it. I’m just proud of our guys, we were understaffed, someone had to step up and replace the other guys, and we just did that as a group.”

With a roster of only four returning sophomores, Bakersfield College was projected to finish near the bottom of the conference. Instead, the Renegades have averaged 78 points and 40.8 rebounds per game, going 6-1 in conference play and 19-9 overall.

“No one picked these guys, they picked us last in conference, everyone said that we weren’t good enough, and those guys persevered throughout the year, and did what they needed to do to win,” said Hughes. The team has been consistent all year long, winning 6 of 7 games in January and haven’t lost more than three consecutive games at any point.

At the close of BC’s victory against West LA, coach Hughes took a moment to put the season in perspective. He said, “Our guys are tough, they’re tough-minded kids who don’t quit and I’m proud of them. We’ve at least clinched with a tie, but you know, to us, a conference title is a conference title. History makes back-to-back conference champions. There’s no other team in the Western State [Conference] for Bakersfield College that can say that. For our school to do that, it’s big-time, it’s a big-time win and a big-time accomplishment for our guys. They set a legacy tonight.”

The game also signaled the 14th consecutive game freshman guard Jamar Hammonds registered double-digit points, scoring 10 in limited action. Hammonds, who sat most of the contest due to early foul trouble, was supplanted by performances from sophomore guard Shane Christie who put up 14, and freshman guard Tucker Eeningenburg who dropped 23 points off the bench. Those totals, alongside Sean Leflore and Henry Galinato, ensured the workload was spread evenly throughout the roster.

By night’s end, the first-place tie with Santa Monica had been broken as Santa Monica fell to Canyons 80-65, placing Bakersfield College in sole possession of first place in the conference with one game remaining on the schedule.

Ironically, the final game of the Renegades’ regular season will be against Canyons Feb. 15, in the Gil Bishop Sports Center, at 5 p.m. “We’re trying to win our 20th game, that’s another benchmark for us, and we want to win it outright, so that’s our goal for Wednesday [Feb. 15],” said Hughes.