By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director
Winners in three of its last four contests, the upstart Cougars are set to begin Western State Conference (WSC) play with a road tilt vs. Antelope Valley College on Wednesday.
Canyons (7-5) has played well as of late, stacking December wins vs. West Hills Coalinga, Rio Hondo, Orange Coast and Ventura College before suffering a close loss to L.A. Trade Tech College in the championship game of the 30th Annual Cougar Holiday classic on Dec. 28.
The Cougars then started the New Year with a bounce-back 76-67 road win at Ventura College last Saturday.
In that game, freshman guard Christopher Bradford led the way with 22 points and six assists as all five starters scored in double-digits. The victory was the second of the year vs. Ventura, with the two teams having previously met on Nov. 15 as part of the annual Irvine Valley Classic.
COC has scored an average of 82.5 points per night during that six-game span, up slightly from its season average of 78.7 points each night, which currently ranks eighth in the WSC.
Head coach Howard Fisher's squad ranks in the top-10 of the conference in several key categories. The Cougars are No. 7 in field goal percentage (44.9), fifth in free-throw percentage (70.4), third in assists (15.5), fourth in steals (8.9) and sixth in rebounds (37.5).
Individually, Canyons has been led in scoring by the three-headed monster of sophomore Zach Phipps (17.7), Bradford (16.3) and sophomore Jordan Nash (14.2) who rank ninth, 13th and 19th, respectively, in the WSC.
Nash also leads the conference in assists per game, checking in with an average of 5.9 each night which is also good for the state's No. 5 slot. His rate of 2.4 steals a game is the WSC's No. 2 mark.
Freshman Virgil Mahoney has played a key role, leading the team and ranking sixth in the WSC with 7.4 rebounds per game.
The WSC, South Division schedule officially gets underway on Wednesday Jan. 8, with the Cougars traveling to take on region rivals Antelope Valley College (5-9).
Canyons should get an added boost when it returns to the Cougar Cage after playing its first four home games at The Master's University MacArthur Center due to ongoing gymnasium renovations. Seven of the team's final 14 games will be played at the Cougar Cage, beginning with a true home opener vs. Santa Monica College at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11.
It will be a tough first home showing, however, as the visiting Corsairs (10-4) come in as the state's No. 7 team according to the most recent California Community College Men's Basketball Coaches Association (CCCMBCA) statewide poll.
In fact, just two teams in the WSC, South (Antelope Valley and Glendale College) will begin conference play with a losing record.
Canyons will also face state-ranked squads with upcoming conference games vs. No. 15 L.A. Valley, No. 17 West L.A. and No. 28 Bakersfield College. The Cougars annually play a home-and-away series with each conference opponent.
Stay up to date on all this season's action by following the College of the Canyons Athletic department on social media at @COCathletics on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.