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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Panthers fall short against Fresno in second round after first round home win
Greg Milton III (11) displaying aerial acrobatics in the 2nd round of the NorCal Regional playoffs while scoring 12 points in their playoff eliminating loss to Fresno City College, 91-77. Photo by Sara Nevis | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

by Jason Reed | Sports Editor | [email protected]

In the first round of basketball playoffs against West Valley College Feb. 27, Panthers freshman guard Greg Milton III posted similar numbers compared to the previous time he played the Vikings in December. But this time, Milton etched his name in the Panthers’ history books when he scored 39 points, breaking the record of a single City College player in a playoff game and leading the team to a 74–51 win.

Former Panthers player Aaron Haynes scored 33 points in a playoff game against Merced College Feb. 23, 2001. His shots from beyond the arc tied a school record set Feb. 27, 1998, by Joaquin Pons, also against Merced College.

Eighteen years later to the day of Pons’ record, Milton made 12 of 18 field goals and connected on eight 3-pointers.

“It was an honor to break that record, and it’s motivating me to grind even harder,” Milton said, adding that he first wanted to thank God. “It was definitely a special moment for me.”

City College then went on the road March 2 to take on Northern California’s top team, Fresno City College, in the second round of the California Community College Basketball Championships.

Although Milton was held in check by the Rams’ defense, the Panthers (16–14) were still able to tie the one-seeded Rams (26–3) with a score of 42-42 at the half. Milton scored only 4 points on five shot attempts in the first half and finished with just 12 points—taking only nine shots in the game, his fewest number of attempts in a game since Jan. 25.

City College lost the game 91–77 after being outscored 49–35 in the second half. The Panthers had 28 fouls for the game, and the Rams were able to pull away as Daniel Rico made five 3-pointers in the second half, and City College had three players foul out of the game.

The Rams jumped out to a 66–53 lead, and the Panthers were never able to get the deficit back to single digits. Kyle Williams led the team in scoring with 19 points as Conor Jeffery scored 18 off the bench, connecting on seven shots.
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“I’m proud of how hard our guys fought and competed against one of the best teams in the state,” said City College Assistant Coach Mike Wiggins on the Panthers’ second-round playoff game. “We went into their house and gave them everything they could handle.”

Wiggins reflected on the team’s ability to continue to fight when it appeared that their playoff hopes were done. “We had a good group of guys who really came together, grew together and stuck together during some challenging times this season,” he said.

Earlier in the season City College had what appeared to be an unlikely run. After being 11-6 and well in position to secure a spot in the tournament, the Panthers faltered down the stretch, finishing with a 4-7 record.

But the Panthers seized the opportunity when eventual Big 8 Champions San Joaquin Delta came to town looking to sweep the season series.

The Mustangs beat the Panthers in Stockton Jan. 22 in a closely contested game. The Panthers lost by only 5 points, and four Diablo Valley players scored in double figures.

But when the teams met again, the Panthers led by 25 points with 10:22 remaining and won by a final score of 74-51. Milton finished with 23 points on 6-for-14 shooting, with eight rebounds and made all eight of his free throws.

“We just control what we could control and hope things went our way,” said Wiggins. “Thanks to the schedule, we had a great opportunity to play Delta, the best team in our league, at home in the final game, and we knew beating them would go a long way toward making the playoffs.”

After defeating the Big 8 Champions, the Panthers had to wait to see what would happen in terms of their playoff hopes. Because of their win against the Mustangs and a three-way tie with American River College and Sierra College, the Panthers were able to snag a spot in the playoffs as well as help ARC clinch a spot, too. ARC won its first round against Merritt College and lost the second round to Gavilan.

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