It wasn’t pretty by coach Ed Madec’s admission, but Fresno City College’s quest to become the all-time champion of California community college men’s basketball got off to a successful start.
The Northern California second-seeded Rams allowed a 16-point lead dwindle to four with 3 minutes left in the game before pulling away for a 68-56 victory over SoCal third-seeded Chaffey on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the state championship tournament.
“I don’t think we played our best game, but you’ve got to give Chaffey credit for that,” Madec said. “Fortunately, we made some plays at the end and survived.”
Fresno City (27-3) advances to Saturday’s semifinals at Ventura College, where it will face the winner of Thursday’s late game between SoCal No. 1 Fullerton and NorCal No. 4 Santa Rosa. Satruday’s tip-off is at either 1 or 3 p.m. pending other tournament results.
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The Rams are seeking to become the first team in state history to win six titles. Cerritos and Long Beach, neither of which qualified for the final eight, have also won five. Fresno City’s last state championship came in 2012. Its others were in 2007, 2005, 1963 and 1955.
Ethan Richardson, a 6-foot-10 sophomore from Madera High, led the Rams with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
Fresno City, which has won 26 straight following a 2-3 start, also received 13 points and five rebounds from Jared Small, and 10 points apiece from Eljay Gallegos and Georgie Dancer.
“We’re peaking at the right time,” Richardson said. “We’ve got two more games to go. The job is not finished.”