Jeff Klein was to the point with his Chaffey College men's basketball team early Friday.
Bound off the bus and prepare to compete, he challenged them, or sit there and pack it in.
The Panthers competed.
With hot outside shooting for double-digit second-half leads, and just enough pressure defense to keep the state's No. 1 team out of full-bore, end-to-end fastbreak mode, Chaffey stunned City College of San Francisco 87-85 in a California Community College State Final Four semifinal at Cosumnes River College.
The Panthers (27-6) advance to Sunday's 1 p.m. title game at CRC against Mt. San Antonio and target the program's first state championship. Chaffey won a regional title in 1931 and reached the Southern California regional finals in 1994. That team is being inducted into the school's athletic Hall of Fame.
San Francisco, in the postseason for the 30th time, won state titles in 1962 and 2011 and were runner-up in 1966, '78, '81, '86 and 2010. The 1986 Rams team lost in the finals to Sacramento City College, led by All-American guard Kenny Drummond.
San Francisco's season ended at 31-1, and so did its hopes of becoming just the fifth team in state tournament history, starting in 1952, to win a state title with an unbeaten record. Only Fresno City in 2005 accomplished the feat in Northern California, going 35-0.
San Francisco guard Chuks Iroegbu of Franklin High School in Elk Grove tied it at 85 with an inside bucket with 37 seconds left. Sango Niang won it with a jumper in the lane with 3.2 seconds left after working the clock for more than 20 seconds.
San Francisco called a time out, and Delon Wright's top-of-the key three at the buzzer was long, setting of team celebration with streams of fans pouring onto the floor.
Dulani Robinson and Quincy Smith led the Rams with 16 points each. Iroegbu had 10. Ryan Nitz had 20 for Chaffey, which made 11 three-pointers.
* Mt. San Antonio 84, Merritt 75 - Guards Corey Allen and Garret Nevels scored 24 and 22 points, respectively, for the Mounties, who advance to the title game for the first time since 1955. Mt. Sac (27-3) made the state final four for the first time in 28 years in 1985.
Merritt (18-12) was the lowest seeded team to make the state final four, emerging as the No. 15 seed in the Northern California bracket by beating American River College 63-62 on a buzzer beater in an out-bracket opener.
The Thunderbirds were without two of their best players at CRC. After a 79-76 NorCal playoff win over Ohlone in Fremont, a post-game fight broke out. It started in the stands, poured onto the court and then outside of the gym.
An army of Division I college coaches were on hand, packed into one side of a full gym, including Bob Huggins of West Virginia. They were on hand to scout a number of recruits.
- Joe Davidson
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