El Capitan High point guard Angel Serena had a knack for delivering some of his best performances in the biggest games.
The Gauchos point guard scored 19 points and dished out seven assists in a 62-57 win over Pitman.
Serena scored 21 points in a showdown against Golden Valley in a big win late in the season. He followed that up with 21 points against Merced on the night the Gauchos locked up the outright Central California Conference championship.
So it wasn’t a surprise when the CCC coaches selected Serena as the conference MVP.
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“It means a lot to me,” Serena said. “The coaches obviously have some respect for me. I put in a lot of work. Since I was younger, I’ve dreamed of playing college basketball. It’s a nice feeling to be recognized for the work I’ve put in.”
Serena averaged 11.5 points, 5.3 assists and 2.1 steals during El Capitan 11-1 run through the CCC.
“I thought he brought it all together during league,” said Gauchos coach Adrian Hurtado, who was named the CCC Coach of the Year. “He does so many things on the court that effect the game that don’t show up in the score book.”
Hurtado and his coaching staff, which includes Serena’s father Joe, talked to Angel about looking to score more when he had the opportunity.
Seren’a style is more of a pass-first mentality, but in big games he wasn’t afraid to take the lead.
“When we were headed to the all-league meeting, I started talking with our coaches about how when in the big games, when the lights were on, he showed bright,” Hurtado said. “Big time players step up in big time games.”
Serena wasn’t afraid to take the big stage.
“Big crowds make a lot of teams tense up,” Serena said. “I could see that in my guys and they’d look for me to break the ice. My job was to carry my team and take the lead. I’m super comfortable in those situations. My teammates have a lot of trust in me.”
Turlock and Golden Valley both landed two players on the all-CCC first team. The Cougars were represented by their top two scorers and rebounders in Cyrus Allen and Etrell Bowers. Allen, who became the second all-time career scorer in Golden Valley history this season with 1,299 points, averaged 17 points and 9.2 rebounds. Bowers averaged 12.3 points and 8.8 rebounds.
Turlock seniors Cameron Sherwood and Arik Bains both received first-team honors. They were joined on the team by Merced senior Jeremy Redwine, El Capitan’s Marcus McCutchen and Pitman Dom Van waaden.
The all-CCC second team was comprised of Atwater’s Saul Avitia, El Capitan’s Mark Sellers and T.J. Wills, Buhach Colony’s Irik Dobbins and Pitman’s Christian Williams.
Receiving honorable mention was Atwater’s Ashton Jantz, Buhach Colony’s Jake Abrams, El Capitan’s Jeremiah Duda, Golden Valley’s Devon Martinez, Merced’s Anthony Robinson, Pitman’s Jacob Staton and Turlock’s Adrian Espinoza.