Article, 2006-2007 Season - Ohlone College Renegades Men's Basketball

(Published January 25, 2007 at Inside Bay Area.)

Scrappy Ohlone collects big win

By Steve R. Waterhouse, Staff writer.

Fremont—Ohlone College men's basketball coach John Peterson has taken the Renegades to new heights.

In front of a lively home crowd, the host Renegades pulled out a 72-68 victory over City College of San Francisco in Coast Conference North play Wednesday.

"We knew we had to come out and play hard and scrappy because they're bigger," said Ohlone's 6-foot-9 forward Jermaine Smith, who scored a team-high 15 points.

This could turn out to be Ohlone's biggest win of the year. The Renegades are ranked No.4 in the state, and CCSF No.2. Top-ranked Diablo Valley College fell 64-54 to Delta Tuesday night and will likely lose that top spot in next week's poll.

With a win over CCSF earlier this year in the Delta Tournament, Ohlone holds all the tiebreakers for any kind of head-to-head seeding in the state playoffs that begin in the middle of February.

"This means we could end up with one of the top four seeds in the playoffs," said Peterson, who implements a lineup that can—and most nights does—go 12 players deep.

The victory jams the top of the conference standings as Ohlone (21-2) improves to 5-1 and the Rams (21-4) fall to 5-1.

Ohlone is two years removed from its last conference crown.

In his seventh year at Ohlone Peterson, who was named Coast Conference Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2004, has compiled a 149-59 overall record.

His teams have now won 20 or more games in six of those seven season. But what has eluded the Renegades is going deep in the playoffs. That could change this year with a deep team.

Ohlone's depth played a huge role Wednesday. Despite going up against a bigger team, Ohlone players stayed fresh with Peterson substituting two, three, four or sometimes five players at a time.

The first half featured a back-and-forth game with no lead larger than nine. Ohlone's Sean Amos' layup gave the Renegades a 20-11 lead with just under 10 minutes remaining.

With the Rams tiring, Ohlone began to pull away with a 9-0 run midway through the second half that gave it a 55-44 lead.

CCSF made a run, but with each Rams' bucket Ohlone had an answer. Ohlone won with free throws down the stretch. Bert Whittington (six points) went 6-for-8 from the line, all in the final 2:08 of the game. And his rebound off a CCSF miss with 7 seconds left sealed the victory.

Ohlone's Willis Gardner scored 11 points, and Alan Hester had eight.

Gardner missed the game's final 3:18 when he went down with a cramp, but Peterson said he will be fine for Saturday's home game against Canada (5 p.m.).

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