California JUCO State Final — Riverside vs. Saddleback

I’m here in Riverside with an abbreviated play-by-play of today’s California Community College Athletic Association championship game between Riverside Community College and Saddleback College of Mission Viejo. The game is being played at Selland Arena in Fresno.

I’m listening to WALDCAST.NET and its host, Ronnie Wald. I hope you are also.

Game time is 1 p.m.

12:56 p.m. — National Anthem. “Let’s be brave,” Wald says.

Wayne (Robbie) Robinson, David Norris, Daniel Redmon, Kevin Bradshaw, Jovan Bryant in the starting lineup for the Tigers.

Wald is talking about Riverside coach John Smith’s relationship with legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian.

Smith’s father “Lucky” is in the house.

Feb. 20 against Saddleback was last loss for Riverside.

Saddleback holds one-game advantage, 40-39, all-time against Riverside.

Riverside wins tip!

R — Tigers miss first two shots. Robinson misses layup and Norris misses jumper.

S — Franklin Sessions gets layup to give Saddleback 2-0 lead.

R — David Norris hits jumper to tie game, 2-2.

S — Kevin Menner gets bucket and the foul. SDLBK leads 4-2. Menner misses FT.

S — Menner makes steal on Daniel Redmon and scores on layup. SDLBK up 6-2.

R — Bryant hits three-pointer for Riverside. SDLBK leads 6-5.

S — Menner goes to basket and is fouled hard. FTs for Menner. He makes 1-of-2. SDLBK leads 7-5.

R — Bradshaw misses turn-around jumper. Ball out of bounds., 17:07 to go.

R — Bradshaw goes baseline for bucket. Game tied 7-7.

S — Menner misses jumper but is fouled. More FTs. Makes one of 2.

R — Bryant hits another three! Riverside leads 10-8.

R — Bryant hits another three! Riverside leads 13-8.

S — Bryant gets loose for layup. Riverside leads 15-8. Timeout Saddleback.

S — Sessions hits 18-footer. Riverside leads 15-10.

R — Bradshaw gets pass from Redmon and gets layup. Riverside leads 17-10.

Riverside already has four fouls.

R — Bryant misses three. He’s 3-for-4 from 3-point range.

S — Menner fouled while dribbling. Five fouls on Riverside.

S — Menner makes 1-of-2. Riverside leads 17-11.

R — Lawrence Etahblocked by Menner. Riverside cannot convert on three shot attempts.

S — Sessions misses shot.

R — Little-used Sean Sawyer misses wildly.

S — Menner gets to basket. Riverside leads 17-13.

R — J.J. Maxim misses close-range shot.

S — Menner makes turnover. Then commits a foul.

R — Etah blocked by Sessions.

S — Sessions hits a three. Riverside still leads 17-16.

“This game is for the whole ball of wax,” Wald says.

R — Bradshaw gets “great first step” and the basket. Riverside leads 19-16.

S — T.J. Liepold misses three.

R — James Calhoun called for offensive foul. He “runs over” a Gaucho.

Both teams come into the game with identical 29-7 records.

R — Redmon hits a floater and is fouled. Riverside leads 21-16. Misses FT.

S — Sessions misses basket. Donovan Buford get rebound. Riverside timeout.

First championship game for Riverside in 33 years. That’s longer than I’ve been alive.

R — Robinson hits high floater. Riverside leads 23-16.

S — Menner triple-teamed and misses shot. Liepold misses shot.

R — Robinson breaks away for layup! Riverside leads 25-16.

Saddleback timeout.

Wald talking about how John Smith and Saddleback coach, conference friends and competitors, seemed friendly before the game.

S — Gauchos miss two shots but get basketball back after Bradshaw turnover.

S — Menner gets his own rebound but Gauchos cannot score.

R — Bradshaw gets tip in off Redmon miss. Riverside leads 27-16.

“An act of thievery. Somebody call the Fresno police,” says Wald for the umpteenth time.

R — Redmon misses 3-point attempt.

S — Billy Azizi misses shot.

R — Maxim gets a put back on a Bryant miss and is fouled. Riverside leads 29-16. Misses FT. Bryant gets tip in on rebound. Riverside leads 31-16.

S — Menner fouled. Makes both FTs. Riverside leads 31-18.

R — Bryant misses 3-point attempt. Bradshaw gets rebound and is fouled. Menard on the foul. Bradshaw makes 1-of-2 FTs. Riverside leads 32-18.

S — Terrell Mack misses shot. Menner gets rebound but misses put back.

S — Sessions has ball stolen by Redmon but Tigers turn ball over.

S — Mack misses 3-point attempt. Sessions with rebound but Redmon makes another steal.

R — Redmon turns ball over when he throws it out of bounds on an alley-oop attempt.

S — Liepold misses 18-footer. 3:18 left in the half.

S — Liepold makes shot under pressure. Riverside leads 32-20.

R — Aaron Snyder misses 20-footer.

S — Menner makes layup but is called for offensive foul! Bradshaw limps off.

R — Sawyer misses layup but is fouled. Sawyer misses both FTs but Tigers get rebound. Riverside takes :20 timeout. 1:32 left in the first half.

R — Buford flashes in paint and gets scoop shot. Riverside leads 34-20.

S — Gauchos miss 3-point-attempt.

“The vaunted Riverside defense,” Wald says.

S — Liepold gets entry pass and scores easily. Riverside leads 34-22.

R — Tigers with last chance of half but do not score.



Riverside — Bryant 12 points, 3-for-5 from 3; Bradshaw 9 pts., 2 reb.; Buford 6 reb.; Riverside has shot only 36 percent in this tournament.

Saddleback — Menner 11 pts, 3-for-5 FGs, 5 FTs, Sessions 7 pts., 3-for-6 FGs, 10 reb.; Liepold 4 pts; Saddleback was 1-for-5 from 3-point land and had 9 turnovers.

Riverside is 20 minutes away from a state title! Be confident.

S — Sarunas Jackson goes up for a shot but ends up on his wallet after a hard foul. Jackson makes makes 1-of-2 shots. Riverside leads 34-23.

R — Bradshaw misses shot but Redmon gets rebound. Norris hits pull-up jumper. Riverside leads 36-23.

S — Liepold misses close-range shot then blows a layup. Menner gets rebound and get putback basket and is fouled? How? Menner makes FT. Lead trimmned to 10, 36-26

R — Norris gets basket on layup. Riverside leads 38-26.

S — Menner gets loose for basket. Riverside leads 38-28

R — Norris gets three-point basket. Riverside leads 41-28.

S — Jackson hits 8-footer in paint. Riverside leads 41-30.

Riverside’s Smith has more than 200 all-time wins thus far.

S — Sessions misses shot.

R — Tigers miss two shots.

S — Menner clanks a dunk attempt.

R — Norris misses 3-point attempt.

S — Sessions blows layup.

Sessions and Menner “out-of-sorts,” Wald says.

R — Tigers make turnover.

S — Mack gets 2-of-2 FTs. Riverside leads 41-32. 14:35 to go.

R — Redmon takes it to the rack. Riverside leads 43-32.

S — Menner has layup blocked by Maxim.

R — Buford hits floater. Riverside leads 45-32.

Fouls — Riverside 3, SDLBK 2.

R — Maxim gets putback. Riverside leads 47-32.

S — Menner gets fouled by Maxim.

S — Menner misses shot.

R — Buford hits a three! Riverside leads 50-32. 11:43 to go.

S — Aaron Wood gets a basket. Riverside leads 50-34.

R — Calhoun goes down hard but is called for a foul! What!?!

S — Sessions gets fouled by Maxim on 23-foot jump shot attempt. He makes 2-of-3. Riverside leads 50-36.

Sessions was Orange Empire Conference MVP.

This is only the second championship game in state history in which two teams from the same conference have played.

R — Bradshaw makes beatiful move and gets basket. Riverside leads 52-36.

S — Liepold misses shot.

R — Calhoun misses three. NOT HIS GAME.

S — Mack makes jumper. Riverside leads 52-38.

R — Etah misses jumper.

S — Mack misses runner.

R — Etah gets shot blocked and ball stolen by Menner, who is then fouled by Norris on layup attempt.

S — Menner makes 2-of-2 FTs. Riverside leads 52-40. 9:05 remaining.

R — Tigers take timeout. 8:45 to go.

R — Etah throws ball away. Steal by Sessions.

S — Aaron Woods called for offensive foul.

Riverside is the sixth oldest community college in California. Est. 1912.

R — Redmon stuffed by Sessions.

S — Menner throws up shot but is fouled. Menner makes second of 2 FTs. Riverside leads 52-41.

R — Robinson misses three. Bradshaw gets rebound, blows two layup attempts. 7:07 to go.

S — Marquise Green misses 3-point attempt out of bounds. Riverside timeout.

Wald brings his own french vanilla coffee to hotels. He said so.

R — Bradshaw fouled by Mack. Ball out of bounds.

R — Robinson makes 17-footer. Riverside leads 54-41.

S — Sessions makes move and gets a basket. Riverside leads 54-43.

R — Norris misses 7-footer.

S — Menner gets called for offensive foul on Bradshaw. Bradshaw playing without regard for his body.

R — Robinson jacks up shot, misses and Norris gets rebound. Offensive foul (elbow) on Riverside. 4:25 to go.

S — Sessions hits 21-footer. Riverside leads 54-46.

R — Bradshaw gets shot blocked. Jump ball. Riverside ball.

R – Redmon gets layup with drive. Riverside leads 56-46.

S — Mack hits three! Riverside leads 56-49.

R — Norris fouled by Mack. Five team fouls for Saddleback. 2:59 left.

R — Bradshaw shoots air ball.

S — Sessions passes up shot but Mack misses wildly. 2:45 left.

R — Robinson’s tomahawk dunk not allowed after awesome behind-the-back pass from Redmon. Saddleback had a foul. Used it.

R — Bradshaw misses shot.

S — Mack misses shot, Bradshaw diving out of bounds. 1:48 to go.

R — Offensive foul called on Redmon!? Turnover.

S — Woods misses easy layup. Riverside ball!

R — Norris immediately fouled with 1:21 to go. 1-and-1 FTs to come. Mack fouled out. Norris makes 2-of-2 FTs. Riverside leads 58-49.

S — Woods hits three! Riverside still lead 58-53.

R — Turnover! What!?! What happened here. Wald spluttered.

S — Menner fouled by Bradshaw. Menner makes 1-of-2 FTs. Riverside leads 58-55.

R — Norris misses shot. :28 left.

S — Woods hits three! Game tied 58-58.

Riverside has chance to win with the shot clock put to bed.

R — Redmon throws ball away for second time! :20.8 left.

Teams were 1-and-1 against one another in conference.


S — Green fouled. Timeout on the floor. :16 left on clock.

S — Gauchos miss two shot attempts.

R — Norris attempts half-court heave that misses.

OVERTIME! Game tied 58-58.

S — Sessions wins tip.

S — Menner misses shot but is fouled. Menner misses both FTs. Gauchos gets rebound. 3-second violation on Sessions. Riverside ball.

R — Norris banks shot off glass. Riverside leads 60-58.

S — Menner blows 12-footer. Robinson with rebound.

R — Norris misses 12-footer. He doesn’t “look pretty,” Wald says.

S — Sessions blocked. 2:35 to go.

R — Buford misses but gets his own rebound. Riverside leads 62-58.

S — Liepold misses shot. Buford with rebound. 1:58 to.

Wald waxing poetic about John Smith. “No win would be bigger than this one,” he says.

R — Buford misses but Norris gets rebound. 1:53 to go.


Audio returns at 2:58 P.M.

RIVERSIDE HAS WON! The Tigers are the state champions! It’s the school’s first men’s basketball championship since 1966, the last of Jerry Tarkanian’s three consecutive.

John Smith may talk to Ronnie Wald. Smith should scold him for his inability to come through in the clutch, unlike this amazing team.

Wald gives my boss, Robert Schmidt, a shoutout! Barry Meier (my boss’s boss) too.


Riverside (30-7) — Norris 18 pts.; Riverside only shot 36 percent.

Saddleback (29-8) — Menner 22 pts.; Saddleback loses season series.

Turns out, Riverside wins 69-60. The Tigers dominated overtime, outscoring the Gauchos 11-2.

John Smith gets a great round of applause. It’s Smith’s first state title in his nine years as a JC coach. He accepts the state championship trophy.

David Norris wins State Finals MVP. He dominated this weekend. His stock must be on the rise. Kevin Bradshaw and Robbie Robinson get all-tournament team honors.

Tarkanian is in the house! His and John Smith’s relationship (Smith played for Tark at UNLV) has been well cronicled by myself and others. Tarkanian was the coach of RCC’s first three men’s basketball titles and now his former player, Smith, wins the college’s next title some 33 years later.

Tark gets to hug the trophy. The nets are being cut down. This is a moment, for RCC, that has been a long time in coming.

John Smith in postgame:

“It’s just a special feeling. So grateful to be here. I noticed that our guys started to relax, focus on state title instead of the process. We had to get them to buckle down and finish. It still hasn’t sunk in. Glad that the Jerry Tarkanian family is here. I owe them a lot — for giving my father a chance to play — and for giving me a chance to play and learn my craft.”

RCC freshman guard James Calhoun in postgame:

“Great coaching.”

Wald is going to get to talk to Smith’s father, Lucky. This guy is living my life.

Fred “Lucky” Smith in postgame:

“It was hard. I’m so proud of him… for building the program at RCC… I’m just so proud of him, I don’t know what to say. Really blessed. Just truly blessed.”


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