Champions they may have been two years ago — and 49 years before that. But by season’s end, not one of those City College of San Francisco men’s basketball teams hoisted the state trophy undefeated.
This weekend, the regular season will come to an end, and the Rams will be a win away from entering the postseason undefeated — and they’ll attempt to do so against a team with merely one win in the last two months.
“They’re struggling a little,” City College coach Justin Labagh said of dead-last Las Positas College, which his team will play Saturday. “They’re not going to make the playoffs, so again we’ll get their best shot. And they’ll be playing for a lot of pride, but we’re kind of used to it by now.”
But those best shots — thus far — have been feeble. Since earning a one-point win over Yuba in the second game of the season, no opponent has come close to battering the Rams (27-0) off their perfect perch.
And for good reason.
“It’s probably the best team we’ve had as far as playing together,” Labagh said, who brought back three starters from last year, while adding some as well. “I think we’ve had one or two other teams with more talent than this one, but these guys play together really well. They know their roles.”
Labagh’s veterans include 6-foot-10 Brazilian forward-center Gabriel Aguirre and guard Shawn Smith, while his freshman point guard, Dulani Robinson, serves as a “spark plug” off the bench.
But if the Rams are to charge beyond last year’s disappointments, they’ll likely have to rely on sophomore guard Delon Wright — whom his coach has dubbed the best player in the state — and freshman point guard Quincy Smith.
“Those two kids are just tough as hell,” Labagh said. “They’re our backcourt.”
Last season was also tough. After finally ending the 49-year title drought in 2010-11, Labagh, 35, underwent a rebuilding year in 2011-12, and his team was ousted early in the postseason.
“We had a good team, and we won a lot of games,” Labagh said. “But we didn’t have an edge as we did the year before. And I think that’s what was missing last year as opposed to this year — we have an edge. And we still have it, even though we’re 27-0.”
Labagh and Co. will go for win No. 28 on Saturday, and later for its second California Community College Athletic Association title in three years.
“That was real special,” Labagh said of his lone championship. “That was the brightest.
“We definitely have what it takes,” Labagh continued. “If we’re on the same page, we should be OK. We should get to the Final Four and really have a chance at this thing. We’ve played a really tough schedule this year and done great. We don’t talk about it so much, but it’s there. It’s in the air.”