Mustangs hit stride late

Cathie Lawrence
Los Medanos College’s guard Albert Waters maneuvers past a Mendocino defender during the teams’s Feb. 10 home victory.

Although they didn’t get off to the start they wanted, the Los Medanos College Mustangs Men’s Basketball team was able to cap off a winning season at a respectable 16-9 overall record. The team excelled in conference play, winning 13 out of 16 games versus their Bay Valley opponents.

Out of the gates, the Mustangs got a close win in their first game of the season at home against the Simpson University Red Hawks 74-71. However from that point on, the season went into a different direction after their promising start.

The team was scheduled to play in the Solano Tournament, followed by the Mendocino Tournament and finally the Santa Rosa Tournament. But they lost their next 6 games in a row, with the first four losses eliminating them from the Solano and Mendocino Tournaments respectively. The next loss was in regular season play and the sixth was the first game of the Santa Rosa Tournament, but LMC managed to salvage a third place finish.

Freshman guard Quincy Smith had an idea as to why the team struggled early on in the season. “I felt this rough stretch happened because one of our best point guard on the team was ineligible in the beginning of the season and we practiced with him for the first three months of the semester,” said Smith. “So once season came around it threw off our team chemistry as a whole and we had to quickly find new ways of adjusting our offense,” said Smith.

While Smith knew he and the rest of team had to work through the losing streak, he admitted it was not easy to take in.

“At this point it was frustrating to lose 6 in a row, but we knew we were a good team and we were just having some difficulties finding our chemistry,” he said.

Head Coach Derek Domenichelli echoed similar sentiments of frustration, but made sure to instill a work ethic into his players and fellow coaches.

“My players and staff trusted in the process of getting better each and every day. I truly believed in them and they believed in our system,” Domenichelli said.

Following the teams third place finish in the Santa Rosa Tournament, they suffered two of their three conference losses consecutively to Solano and Yuba, but afterward, things changed for LMC.

They came close to running the table, winning 13 out of their last 14 games, including winning streaks of six and seven games in a row. Led by guard Albert Waters — who was fifth in the Bay Valley conference in scoring with 18.9 points-per game — the Mustangs were tough to take down with only Yuba managing to do so during the stretch.

“Once Albert Waters came back, it opened up our offensive game and we began to gain our team chemistry back,” Smith said of his teammate.

They were an offense-oriented team, especially from long range, as they were first in three-point percentage at 42 percent in conference plays compared to other teams within the Bay Valley conference.

A popular saying within the sports world is “the best defense is a good offense,” a phrase that could link to this year’s team.

“I felt that we really improved on our defense as the games went on because as our offensive game improved it motivated us to do the best we could on defense,” said Smith.

This attributed to another first place statistic, this time in defense. With 32.1 defensive rebounds per game, LMC beat out their conference opponents in this category.

Smith had a positive outlook on the season as a whole, saying, “I feel the season went very well overall. We had our ups and downs throughout the season but I felt that everyday we pushed ourselves to become a better team.”

Coach Domenichelli valued the connection he made with his players every day they spent together and expressed that he “loved being around all 13 of those remarkable young men this season.”

Their overall record from last year’s campaign differed at 17-10, but they improved from their 9 conference wins, so this season could be viewed as a successful one — and a sign of things to come.

For more information on the Men’s Basketball team, please visit