Valley Glen, CA (Men’s Basketball) -- It's no secret that the strength of the 2008-2009 Citrus College Men’s Basketball team lies in its depth. That was no more evident than on Saturday night, as Citrus’ bench out-scored host LA Valley’s bench, 46-26, as it helped pace the Fighting Owls to an 81-69 win over the Monarchs (ranked #15 in Southern California).
Freshmen Terrance Reaves and Keith Thompson would lead the way off the pine, as Reaves poured in a game high 19 points on 6 of 9 shooting (including 5 of 8 from beyond the 3-point arc), and Thompson added 16 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals, in a impressive 12 point victory over Valley.
Speaking even more too Citrus’ depth was the fact that the Fighting Owls starters were the ones that worked Citrus into an early hole. Trailing 7-2 just over two minutes into the game, Head Coach Rick Croy turned to his bench for some intensity, and got just that, as the Fighting Owls slowly began to chip away at the Valley advantage, tying the game up at 12-12 after a steal and fast-break lay-up by Kelly Johnson.
Valley responded with a five point swing, but Citrus quickly countered with a mini 7-0 run grabbing the lead for the first time thanks to a 10-footer by Keith Thompson that made the score 19-17.
The Monarchs came back with a trey by Robert Brown, but the Fighting Owls used another run, this time 9-0, to grab an 8-point advantage after another steal and fast-break, from Steven Bennett.
From there Citrus would continue to cruise taking their largest lead into the break, up by 14 after a 3-pointer by Bennett made the score 44-30 just before the half.
In the second Citrus kept their lead in double-digits for the first six minutes, until five unanswered points by the Monarchs dropped their lead to 8 after a 3-point play by Jerome Lowe.
Valley cut into the lead further, after a jumper by Curtis Leslie, but Citrus was able to come back with a 12-2 run that gave the Fighting Owls a 16-point 65-49 advantage after sophomore Troy Payne scored three straight points.
The Monarchs would get back to within single digits twice more before the game was up, but a lay-up by Bennett and some free-throws from three different Owls sealed the deal, for the 12-point victory.
Along with Reaves and Thompson, sophomore Kelly Johnson posted a strong game. Johnson practically did everything but score, grabbing a career high 9 rebounds and matching a season high with 7 assists. Troy Payne also chipped in with his fourth double-double of the season and first of the conference schedule with a game high 14 rebounds and 13 points.
With the win, Citrus improves to 24-4 overall and 8-1 in WSC South Division play, while LA Valley falls to 14-10 overall and 5-4 in conference play. Citrus will be looking to avenge their lone conference loss on Wednesday as they play host to Santa Monica College. The Corsairs took a 76-75 decision on a last second shot over the Fighting Owls earlier in the season. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:00 PM.