With five teams from the South Coast Conference currently ranked in the state's top 15, the Rio Hondo College Roadrunners expect to face tough competition throughout the rest of the season. And despite having just six players available for action on Wednesday, Rio Hondo put a scare into No. 6 Long Beach City College.
But once again, lack of depth caught up to the Roadrunners as they let a second-half lead slip and ultimately lost by a final score of 83-73 at LBCC's Hall of Champions Gym.
Thanks to 7 three-pointers in the first half, including 4 three-point baskets from Kevin Sandoval, Rio Hondo held a narrow 35-31 advantage at the break.
That momentum continued into the second. A free throw by Elijah McElroy extended the Roadrunners' lead to 45-38 at the 13:57 mark. Long Beach (13-2 overall) rallied to overtake the lead, but Rio Hondo clawed its way back into a 61-61 tie with 7:24 to play after a pair of McElroy free throws.
Rio Hondo's hot hand from beyond the arc eventually cooled allowing the Vikings to jump ahead for good. Rio Hondo got within two points, down 67-65 with 3:54 remaining. But Long Beach ran off a 10-2 run over the next two minutes to take a commanding 77-67 advantage to seal its victory.
Uziel Felix nearly posted a double-double on the night. He totaled 23 points, 9 rebounds, and also added 6 assists. Jonathan Martinez put up 20 points thanks to 9 of 10 shooting from the free throw line to go along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
Sandoval ended his night with 19 points and Bryant Howing chipped in with 8 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds.
Rio Hondo, now 3-12 overall, will look to snap a four-game losing streak on Friday (Jan. 11). The Roadrunners will face another big challenge as they host No. 3 state-ranked Cerritos College at 6 p.m. in another South Coast Conference interdivision game.