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Stock action image of COC men's basketball player Raz Orbach during the Cougars' game vs. L.A. Trade Tech College on Dec. 28, 2023.

Canyons Downs LATT, Falls to Mt. SAC in Tourney Championship

By Jesse Muñoz/COC Sports Information Director   

College of the Canyons played to an 83-80 victory over L.A. Trade Tech College on day one of the 33rd Annual Cougar Holiday Classic, before eventually falling in Friday's championship game to visiting Mt. San Antonio College 84-67 on Lee Smelser Court at the Cougar Cage.

The victory over LATT (8-4) was the third straight for Canyons (6-7). That thrill was short-lived however, with Mt. SAC (11-1) eventually downing the host Cougars to take the tourney title. Orange Coast College (8-6) also competed in the two-day event but finished winless after falling to Trade Tech in the consolation game. 

COC received a game-high 23 points alongside 17 rebounds from sophomore Jonah El-Farra in the win over L.A. Trade Tech. That nearly matched El-Farra's season high of 27 while his 12 points in the opening half gave the Cougars a nice boost on their way to opening up a 42-24 lead at the break. 

Starters Raz Orbach and Jacob Gonzalez were next with 13 and 12 points, respectively, while Deshawn Herold came off the bench to add 11 points and six rebounds. Joshua Barnett also finished with 11 points while Gonzalez led the way with five assists. 

Canyons shot nearly 47 percent from the floor and edged the Beavers 49-27 in rebounds for the game. However, the Cougars committed 18 turnovers with 10 coming down the stretch, which allowed LATT to make it a game. 

The Beavers shot nearly 57 percent in the second half as Omari Ferguson finished with 19 in the half and 22 for the game. Romero Hutchinson also emerged late with 16 of his 18 points coming after the break. 

In Saturday's matchup Canyons once again received valuable contributions from its reserves. Herold tied for the team lead at 10 points. Jeremiah Walker and Isaiah Baptista both chipped in off the bench with seven, while Andrew Ezenwa added six more. 

Those numbers helped but weren't enough to keep pace with a Mt. SAC team that shot a combined 66 percent for the game and better than 57 percent from three-point land. The Mounties had five players finish in double digits including a game-high 18 coming from Nick Hopkins. 

COC lost the battle of the boards 33-18 and shot an even 40 percent for the game. Gonzalez scored 10 to lead the Cougars' starters and El-Farra was the rebounding leader at four. Barnett finished next with eight points and three boards while Orbach scored seven with a pair of rebounds and two assists. 

Those efforts earned Orbach a spot on the 2023 Cougar Holiday Classic All-Tournament team. He was joined by Jon McCullough of Mt. SAC, Devon Jailet of LATT and Sam Hunter of Orange Coast College. Nick Hopkins was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player for the champion Mounties.

Canyons has now completed its tournament schedule for the season. Up next, the Cougars travel to Cuesta College at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 3. COC then begins Western State Conference (WSC), South Division play on Jan. 10 with a trip to L.A. Valley College.

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 X, InstagramFacebook and YouTube 

—Photo by Carla Sophia Velasco/COC Sports Information