COC guard Jimmy Galgano (25) attempts a dunk in the second period at College of the Canyons on Thursday, 110421. Caden West/Canyons News

After over 600 days, the College of the Canyons men’s basketball returned to the court to defeat Oxnard College, 102-82, in the first round of the ‘Clash of the Canyons’ event last Thursday.

The return to the court was much anticipated by everyone, including head coach Howard Fisher.

“I didn’t really sleep well last night. I was excited,” said Fisher. “Six hundred, twenty-one days between games, I think all of our players had nervous jitters.”

The Cougars’ nervousness showed as they started off the game with four turnovers in the first three minutes.

As a result, Oxnard (0-1) got off to an early lead, up 17-11 four minutes into the game.

Cameron McRae led the comeback for COC (1-0), scoring 11 points with three made 3-pointers in the first half.

The Cougars’ bench outscored the Condors’ bench 40-5 in the first half, leading 55-50.

In the second half, the Cougars continued to expand their lead by dominating in the paint and outrebounding the Condors.

COC’s Andrew Henderson and Aaron Reyes led the cougars on the boards with a combined total of 22 rebounds.

“That’s something that we have stressed the past couple of weeks,” said Fisher. “To get more possessions we need to out-rebound our opponents.”

COC defender Andrew Henderson (24) brings up the ball in the first period at College of the Canyons on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. Caden West/Canyons News

The Cougars’ success in the paint helped them maintain their lead throughout the entire second half, at one moment being up as much as 24 points.

COC’s dominance in the second half led to a 102-82 victory over Oxnard.

McRae led all Cougars in scoring, putting up 15 points. Henderson added nine points along with 10 rebounds.

“I’m not too happy with my performance, but I do think I did good,” stated Henderson. “I always think we can do better, as a team and personally.”

Despite winning, the players are just happy to be back in their normal environment.

“I’m glad to see all of these people come out and watch us,” said Henderson. “I haven’t personally played a game in two years, so seeing fans makes me feel good.”

The Cougars’ next game is this Thursday at 5 p.m. against Cerritos at Irvine Valley College.

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