Former Weston Ranch point guard Eric Duncan left the city of Stockton with big aspirations. He packed his bag, grabbed his basketball and held tight to his Division I dreams.
He landed in Susanville, of all places, population 15,500.
Turns out, the small-town is home to one of the state’s up-and-coming junior college men’s basketball programs, the Lassen College Cougars.
Duncan, a fast-action guard, has become a key cog for the Cougars. As a freshman, he’s averaging about nine points and four assists in 18 minutes.
“It’s fun playing for Lassen because you started from the bottom and you’re moving to the top,” Duncan said. “I like to be the underdog because I like to prove teams wrong.”
The Cougars are turning heads in the early going.
Lassen was ranked 10th in Northern California by the California Community Colleges Coaches Association. Since then, though, Lassen has reeled off seven consecutive victories to start the season to earn a No. 1 ranking by one regional publication.
The Cougars won the San Jose City College tournament, defeating Merced, Monterey and preseason Northern California No. 1 Merritt College, 86-80
Lassen also owns a 16-point victory over preseason Northern California No. 2 Chabot.
“It’s just the beginning,” he said, “because we have bigger goals to get to the top as an individual and a team.”
Duncan will return to the Central Valley next month when Lassen takes part in the 76th annual Modesto Junior College Tournament. The four-day tournament begins on Dec. 16.
Cota closes record
career at Modesto JC
Modesto Junior College football coach Sam Young has described Anthony Cota as a “once-in-a-generation” back to The Modesto Bee.
“Historic” would be an apt term, too.
Cota put the finishing touches on his record-setting career on Saturday with a 127-yard, three-touchdown performance in a 73-28 victory over Delta. In two seasons, the Sierra High grad has racked up 2,457 rushing yards and 30 total touchdowns.
Blending speed – he’s been clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash – and power (6-foot-3, 230 pounds), Cota has burned and crashed through opposing defenses en route to back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
He had 1,315 yards in 10 games this fall, also a single-season record for a program nearly a century old.
Widmer, Azusa Pacific
left out of D-II playoffs
Grant Widmer and the Azusa Pacific football team believed they had done enough.
The Cougars (10-1) closed the regular season with their ninth straight win, this one a 54-0 drubbing of Menlo Park on Saturday. No. 22 Azusa Pacific is one of nine Division II football teams to post back-to-back 10-win seasons.
Still, it wasn’t enough to earn the Cougars an invitation to the dance.
Azusa Pacific was left out of the Division II playoffs, despite its long ledger of victories, a redemptive victory over Humboldt State and its star power. Record-setting running back Terrell Watson is a nominee for the Harlon Hill Trophy, awarded annually to the best player in Division II.
Widmer played a role in Azusa Pacific’s success. The Sierra High alum started four games at wide receiver for the Cougars, finishing with nine catches for 98 yards. He also had five tackles. His younger brother, Lucas, is also listed on the roster.
Gordon does it all
for College of Idaho
Teejay Gordon didn’t waste any time acclimating himself to NAIA football.
The former East Union and Modesto JC quarterback led College of Idaho in total offense, rushing and scoring in his first season in Caldwell, Idaho.
The Coyotes went 4-7 and lost their final five games.
It wasn’t from a lack of effort by Gordon, who started all 11 games. He finished with 857 rushing yards, completed 57 percent of his passes for 1,728 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed for a team-high 15 scores.