The Long Beach City College (LBCC) Vikings (12-2), making only their second appearance in the championship game, held on for a well-earned 60-56 victory over the Mt. San Antonio College (MSAC) Mounties (12-4) in the championship game of the 35th Annual Colleen Riley Holiday Invitational Tournament at Fullerton College Monday night (Dec. 30).

Riley, who passed away in 2012, was the head coach of the Fullerton College Hornets women’s basketball program from 1969 through 1994. She compiled a 559-147 won-lost record during her 24-year tenure.

LBCC last appeared in the championship game in 1991 when it was runner-up to Yakima Valley (Wa.).

MSAC, which was looking to repeat as tournament champion for the fourth straight year (2010-11-12), also won the tournament in 2000, 2003-04, and 2006-07-08, and was making its eighth straight appearance in the championship game and tenth in the last 14 years.

After a pair of early ties, LBCC broke out to a 23-12 lead with 11:01 left in the first half. MSAC shaved the deficit to 26-24 with 4:34 to play. LBCC led, 31-28, at halftime. MSAC took its only lead at 36-35 with 16:56 remaining before LBCC went on an 11-0 run for 46-36 lead with 12:43 left. Down the stretch, the Vikings were table to keep the Mounties at bay, matching every MSAC rally.

LBCC freshman center Darshana Taafua (Buena Park / Western HS) poured in a game-high 19 points to earn tournament most valuable player honors. Freshman guard Abbey Goodsell (Orange / Orange Lutheran HS) added 17 points and five assists to also earn all-tournament honors. Also named all-tournament was LBCC sophomore forward Symphony Logan (Long Beach / Jordan HS).

For MSAC, freshman forward Lashanique Youngblood (Moreno Valley / Rancho Verde HS) led the Mounties with 15 points. Named to the all-tournament team from MSAC were sophomore guard Shaela Flynn (Pasadena / John Muir HS) and sophomore forward Sabrina Norton (Issaquah HS).

In the third-place game, the Cerritos College Falcons (7-7) pulled away from the host Fullerton College Hornets (4-11) late in the first half en route to a 51-35 win. Freshman center Selena Romero (Lakewood HS) had a game-high 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Falcons. Cerritos sophomore forward Nia Lateju (Norwalk HS) was selected to the all-tournament team.

Sports Guy Mike Guardabascio has been writing professionally for a decade, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards and is the author of the historical book "Football in Long Beach."

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