3rd seeded Citrus (23-6) will host 6th seeded Long Beach (24-4) in one of the best match ups in the sweet 16 on Saturday night. The Owls come into the matchup winners of 23 games and have won 12 straight games after crushing 19th seeded Cuesta 95-58 at home on Saturday. Citrus came out blazing as the Owls jumped out to a 56-20 halftime lead and cruised in the 2nd half to advance into the round of 16. Five Owls were in double figures in scoring led by Josh Caston who had 23 points. Caston was 8 of 10 from the floor and made 3 three pointers against the Cougars. Psalm Maduakor added 15 points and 6 rebounds and Toby Okwuokei added 12 points and 7 rebounds in the victory for Citrus.
As for the Vikings, Long Beach comes into the game on a 10 game winning streak after a 78-70 victory over Santiago Canyon. Long Beach had to use a second half surge after trailing by 10 points at the break but outscored Santiago Canyon 46-28 to pick up the win. Freshman Jace Bass had a triple double as the guard had 28 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in the win. Nicolas Stuart added 12 points and 5 rebounds and Aaron Jelks added 10 points in the win for the Vikings.
Citrus (23-6): The Owls come into the contest as one of the hottest teams in the state as Citrus has won 12 straight games and went undefeated in Western State East Conference action. Since losing to West Los Angeles on January 11th, the Owls have not lost a game and Citrus cruised past Cuesta last round in their 2nd round playoff game. Four Citrus players are averaging in double figures as Josh Caston leads the Owls in scoring as the sophomore is averaging 14.3 points per game this season. Caston is averaging 26.5 points in his last two outings and the sophomore led the Owls in scoring last game against Cuesta. Sam Gagliardi (12.9 points and 4.5 rebounds) is second in the team in scoring this season as the sharp shooter is shooting 39% from downtown and has played well this season for the Owls after transferring from Olympic Community College. Psalm Maduakor (11.3 points and 6.8 rebounds), Colby Orr (11.4 points and 3.4 assists), Toby Okwuokei (9.8 points) and Jesse Elrod (8.0 points) are all players expected to contribute for the Owls. Citrus averages 81.9 points per game while the Owls are giving up 69.7 points per game this season. The Owls shoot the three ball with the best of them in the state as Citrus makes 10.7 per game (4th in the state) and the Owls shoot 30.9 (4th in the state) per contest. Citrus also takes care of the basketball as the Owls only average 11.7 turnovers per game (6th in the state) and if the game is on the line the Owls shoot 76% from the line (2nd in the state) which is great for late game situations. At the defensive end, Citrus is 8th in the state in blocks per game and limit opponents to shooting 31% from behind the three point line (14th in the state).
Long Beach (24-4): The Vikings come into the matchup as one of the most consistent teams in Southern California the whole season. The co champions of the South Coast South Conference are on a 10 game winning streak and have posted 24 wins this season. Two players are averaging in double figures led by freshman Jace Bass. The freshman guard who has committed to Cal State San Bernardino has had a standout season for the Vikings. Bass is averaging 21.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists this season. Bass has put up over 30 points four times this past season and put up 20 or more points 18 times this season. Jamiu Akinbile is another player to watch for the Vikings as the versatile high motor sophomore is averaging 14.7 points and 7.4 rebounds for Long Beach. Akinbile has been solid all season and is a game changer for the Vikings. Jeremiah Sadler (9.6 points and 3.2 rebounds), Matthew Wooten (8.4 points and 5.8 rebounds) and Jordan Heard (7.0 points) are three other players that will looked upon to provide scoring for the Vikings in the match up against Citrus. Long Beach averages 83.1 points per game while the Vikings are giving up 76.1 points per contest. Long Beach is 9th in the state in scoring but one area where the Vikings excel is getting to the free throw line as Long Beach is 3rd in the state in free throws made per contest as the Vikings make 19.3 per game while shooting 26.8 per game (3rd in the state). Another area where the Vikings excel is on the offensive glass averages 13.4 per game (11th in the state). At the defensive end, the Vikings average 9.1 steals per contest (17th in the state) and hold opponents to 30% from behind the three point line (7th in the state).