Stags Clinch First Round Home Game by Holding Off Kingsmen
THOUSAND OAKS, CA -- The CMS Stags (22-1, 11-1 SCIAC) won their seventh straight contest Wednesday night, battling back from behind and holding off Cal Lutheran (9-13, 5-7 SCIAC) by the score of 57-46. The win guarantees at least a share of the regular season SCIAC title, with a chance to win it outright with a win over Occidental Saturday night. The conference title is head coach Ken Scalmanini's sixth, and fourth straight. With an 11-1 record in conference, the Stags also clinched a first round home game in the postseason tournament, guaranteeing them home court advantage with one more win or one Whittier loss in the final two games.
The Stags fell behind early to the Kingsmen, but a 14-3 run to end the first half, cemented by two three pointers from Kevin Sullivan in the final minute, put CMS up by 14 at halftime, 27-13. The stifling defense held Cal Lu to just 4-of-24 shooting in the first half; CMS forced eight Kingsmen turnovers on six steals in the first twenty minutes as well.
Cal Lu did not go away quietly on their home floor, however. A three-point play by John Wilson with 6:43 left cut the Stag lead to just two points at 43-41, capping off a 13-4 run for the home team. Then senior forward Mani Maceira took over. He put up 13 second-half points on his way to a game-high 19 points to go along with his team-high 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. CMS pulled away winning by 11, 57-46.
Tyler Gaffaney was the only other Stag in double figures (13 points), but Sullivan (8 points) had a nice night off the bench to lift his team to victory as well.
CMS goes on the road to Occidental (10-12, 6-6 SCIAC) Saturday in a virtual must win for the Tigers, who sit a game back of fourth place Redlands with two to play. The Kingsmen host the defending SCIAC postseason champion Redlands Bulldogs (12-11, 7-5 SCIAC) Saturday.