The Chabot College men's basketball team isn't rising above the rim as much this season. But the undersized Gladiators are rising in the rankings.
Chabot vaulted five spots to No. 15 in the state poll this week after a 59-55 victory over visiting Ohlone on Friday in their Coast Conference-North Division opener. Diablo Valley is No. 1 in the state, and Contra Costa is No. 19.
Last season Chabot was powered by the likes of 7-footer Kyle Luckett, who's playing professionally in the Japan-BJ League, and 6-foot-8 Jacob Noisat, who is the leading scorer and rebounder at Dominican College.
This season, Chabot boasts four point guards, two shooting guards and five small forwards. No player is taller than 6-foot-5. The Gladiators rely on quickness, a suffocating defense and 3-point shooting. It can make for an entertaining spectacle.
The Gladiators (12-6) are also impeccably balanced.
"Our team's really unique," Chabot coach Denny Aye said. "We've got 12 guys who really can all play, which has almost caused me a problem: Trying to keep 12 guys happy at a California junior college is not a good thing to do. It's a lot easier to keep six to eight of them happy."
Aye said he really likes his team, though.
Chabot's depth paid off against Ohlone. Minus two key players, the Gladiators limited the Renegades to 23 second-half points, including six points from the floor over the final 14 minutes. Ohlone (8-8, 1-1), which has been hampered by illness and injuries, opened conference play with a 63-56 win over Foothill on Jan. 4, behind Australian Jarrad Jackson's 13 points.
"Obviously, it was a huge win," Aye said of beating Ohlone. "You start off 0-1 and you lose your home opener, it's not good. So it was a very big win for us."
Point guard Kurtis Ong (St. Ignatius/Fremont), Chabot's lone returner, and guards Jameal York (Edison/Fresno) and Damarius Jones (Pinkston, Tex.) are the team's catalysts, Aye said.
"You have to adjust to the personnel that you have," Aye said. "My assistant coach, my son Devin Aye, has pretty much taken over the defense this year. I've given him a lot more responsibility, and he's done a great job of preparing the guys."
Chabot continues play in the fierce Coast-North this week at home against Skyline on Wednesday and Canada on Friday before traveling to City College of San Francisco, ranked No. 3 in the state, on Jan. 18.
Chabot's goal is to advance to the state finals for the first time in Aye's seven years with the program. The Gladiators came up two wins short last season, falling to Diablo Valley 64-50 in the third round of the Northern California playoffs.
BULL HONORED: Chico State guard Synchro Bull, a former Emery High star, has been named the California Collegiate Athletic Association's (CCAA) women's basketball Player of the Week (Jan. 2-8).
Bull, a junior, averaged 20 points on 27-for-50 shooting, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 assists in three games for the Wildcats.
PIONEERS REPORT: The Cal State East Bay women's basketball team snapped a three-game losing streak with a 64-39 victory over visiting San Francisco State on Saturday. The Pioneers (5-8, 2-5 CCAA) had three players score in double figures -- Brianna Terrance (13), Marlene MacMillan (12), and Sarah Finlay (11) and never trailed over the final 33 minutes of play.
The Cal State East Bay men's basketball team (6-5, 4-3 CCAA) lost 78-72 to San Francisco State (4-9, 2-5) on Saturday. The Pioneers shot 33.9 percent from the floor and were outrebounded 48-35. Jacari Whitfield and Roshun Wynne each scored 18 points for the Pioneers. Nefi Perdomo (Skyline) led the Gators with 18 points.
Contact Matt Schwab at email@example.com.