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Men’s basketball sophomore night ends with a victorious send-off for the graduating class

Graduating+sophomores+stand+with+parents+and+Head+Coach+Gerred+Link%2C+center%2C+in+honor+of+their+last+home+basketball+game+of+the+season+on+Tuesday%2C+Feb.+19%2C+in+the+Moorpark+College+gym.+In+celebration%2C+each+sophomore+started+in+the+game+against+Oxnard+College.+Photo+credit%3A+Evan+Reinhardt
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Men’s basketball sophomore night ends with a victorious send-off for the graduating class

Graduating sophomores stand with parents and Head Coach Gerred Link, center, in honor of their last home basketball game of the season on Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the Moorpark College gym. In celebration, each sophomore started in the game against Oxnard College. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Graduating sophomores stand with parents and Head Coach Gerred Link, center, in honor of their last home basketball game of the season on Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the Moorpark College gym. In celebration, each sophomore started in the game against Oxnard College. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Graduating sophomores stand with parents and Head Coach Gerred Link, center, in honor of their last home basketball game of the season on Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the Moorpark College gym. In celebration, each sophomore started in the game against Oxnard College. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Graduating sophomores stand with parents and Head Coach Gerred Link, center, in honor of their last home basketball game of the season on Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the Moorpark College gym. In celebration, each sophomore started in the game against Oxnard College. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

By Robert Gonzales

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A proper Raider send-off, the Moorpark College men’s basketball team gifted their locker-room leading sophomores a 24-point victory over Oxnard College for the last home game of the 2018-2019 season.

Although it was an emotional goodbye for some, this night was a time to reflect on their memories together but also a benchmark, to look forward to the future and what’s to come.

“Two years went by pretty fast,” sophomore guard Brandon Russel said. “That kind of flew by, but also it’s like stepping into the next chapter of my life. It doesn’t stop here.”

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Sophomore Brandon Russell drives on Tahj Comeaux of Oxnard College, during Moorpark's sophomore night game on Tuesday, Feb. 19, in the Moorpark College gym. Russel leads the team this season with an average of 21 points per game. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Russell led the pack of continuing sophomores offensively. He averaged 21 points per game, which is the highest in the Western State Conference North and top 5 in the state.

Constantly picking the pockets of opposing players he stole the ball 49 times this season. He has the fourth highest steals in the conference including eight steals in the game against Oxnard alone.

His defensive partner-in-crime, sophomore team-captain guard Evan Thomas, utilized his quick hands and stole 27 steals of his own, tying him for ninth in the conference.

Thomas showed off those quick hands in his final home game of the season when he poked the ball away from Oxnard with 2:21 remaining in the first half.

That defensive hustle gave the Raiders an extra possession to knock down a three to tie the game.

Ending on a high note was important to the Raiders, as many future decisions lingered in the air for the graduating sophomores.

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Sophomore guard Evan Thomas (#1) jumps and scores on a layup against Ventura College, during Saturday's home game on February 2, 2019. The Raiders lost, 97-80. Photo credit: Jace Kessler

“I’m not sure if I’ll continue to play,” Thomas said. “So [sophomore night] was kind of like looking back on the last two years, and really my whole career and realizing it’s probably one of the last games I’ll ever play and just … reflecting back on the hard work I’ve put in.”

Thomas consistently scored 7.4 points per game this season with a 47.4 field goal percentage.

His accuracy was only surpassed by sophomore forward Justice De Corsi who also contributed 10.7 points per game shooting 50.3 percent from the field.

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Sophomore Justice De Corsi lines up his final free throw in the Moorpark College gym, during sophomore night against Oxnard College on Tuesday, Feb. 19. De Corsi, a two-year scholar athlete, finished his Moorpark career with a cumulative 3.7 GPA. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

Just below those two field goal percentages sat team-captain guard Keyan Bazargan who hit 45.6 percent of his shots for 5.4 points per game. All three players were ranked in the top 12 for field goal percentage in the conference.

“Being a part of this program, this culture is just more than one of us individually,” De Corsi said. “That’s probably one of the biggest things I learned. I was taught humbleness.”

Russel, De Corsi, and Bazargan finished their last home game with double-digit scores. They made sure to end the season playing their best ball.

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Sophomore Keyan Bazargan attempts to dribble past Tahj Comeaux during Moorpark College's game against Oxnard College on Tuesday, Feb. 20 in the Moorpark gym. Bazargan is one of multiple scholar athletes with a cumulative GPA of 4.0. Photo credit: Evan Reinhardt

“The whole experience, all the time we’ve spent together is super-valuable, for all of us,” Bazargan said. “ I think we’re building valuable, relatable skills and also it’s just a super-fun thing to do. I haven’t regretted any of the time that I’ve spent doing this because it’s just special in both those ways.”

Those valuable skills reflected off the basketball court as well. De Corsi, Bazargan and Thomas all finished their last semester with 4.0 GPAs and a cumulative two-year scholar-athlete GPA of 3.7 or higher.

Although basketball might not be in the future for everyone, their futures still look bright. With the skill set of working towards an even bigger goal than themselves, their team-mentality developed strong-willed characters that are ready to move forward after Moorpark College.

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About the Writer
Robert Gonzales, Senior reporter

Robert Gonzales is a senior sports reporter. He received his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, but was mesmerized investigating...

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