Basketball PNG basketball representative Lloyd Wright has led Orange Coast College Pirates to their first Championship since 1979. Lloyd attends Orange Coast College in Los Angeles studying mathematics and playing in the OCC’s Men’s Basketball Team in the NCAA. OCC’s head coach Steve Spencer praised Lloyd, not only as the leading scorer, but hitting the big shots down the stretch. “Lloyd wants the ball when the game is tight – he has hit a number of game winners in this conference season – I could not be prouder of the guys. The 2018 Conference Championship is something that can never be taken away for the group,” Spencer said. For the first time in 40 years, the Orange Coast College men’s basketball team has earned the title of conference champions, claiming the Orange Empire Conference crown on Friday night with an 83-74 overtime win against second-place Fullerton College before a packed and frenzied OCC-heavy crowd inside the Peterson Gym. “I’m just so happy for the guys … what a courageous and resilient bunch of players on this team,” OCC Spencer said. “We’ve been able to get better and better as the season has gone on and this group had to overcome a lot of adversity to get to where they are now.” With all of these heart-stopping victories down the stretch, it was the one conference loss – a 63-62 setback at Irvine Valley – that really galvanised this group. “We learned that when it’s crunch time and the pressure is on, you have to embrace the moment and not shy away from it,” Spencer said. “We had a couple of those tough losses earlier in the year and I think from there, we just went for it and we didn’t fear the risk of failure. “OCC’s “Big Three” of Lloyd Wright (21 points), Kupaa Harrison (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Josh Davis (18 points, nine rebounds) have been instrumental to OCC’s success in the 2018 Conference season, but they have been well supported by the remainder of the playing group. Friday’s game that was totally symbolic to this year’s run for the Pirates as both teams battled for 45 minutes in a game that saw one lead bigger than nine points the entire night. With 19 seconds left in regulation, Malik Skillern made 1-of-2 from the line to give Coast a 65-63 lead, but Khalil Stevenson took the inbounds pass and went coast to coast for a layup to tie the game and force overtime. From there, the big boys took over for the Pirates. A pair of made FTs and a made layup by Harrison, followed by a 3-pointer by Wright helped pad OCC’s lead to 72-67 with 3 minutes left in OT. From that point OCC held the advantage to close out the game 83 – 74 and win the Conference Championship. Coach Spencer said the Orange Empire Conference is a tough conference to win and was great to see this playing group triumph – a proud moment for me as a Coach to share their success. Lloyd said: “Coach Steve Spencer has coached Adelaide in the National Basketball League in Australia in the mid 1990’s. He then returned to the USA as an assistant coach for NCAA Division 1 powerhouse UCLA before taking the head coaching role at OCC 15 years ago. “His coaching credentials and basketball experiences are second to none. “I have learned a great deal from coach, I have learnt how to win, he has made me a tougher competitor on court – I credit my success this season to coach Spencer and coaching staff and a great group of team mates, a fantastic result for the whole school – it was lit,” Lloyd said.