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The 1972 Hancock College men's basketball team won the state tournament championship. The Bulldogs hadn't been back to the state tournament since.

That was before 2018 came along.

The Bulldogs upset two higher seeds on the road to win one of four Southern California Regional tournaments and get into the state tournament. Hancock lost to overall top seed City College of San Francisco at Ventura College in the first round.

Still, making it to the state tourney was quite a feat for veteran coach Tyson Aye's Bulldogs. The Hancock men's basketball team's saga is No. 2 among the top five Santa Maria Times sports stories of the year, as selected by the Times sports staff.

"Even during (pre-season) conditioning, we could see that this was going to be a special season," Aye said at a team practice before the state tournament began.

"Our conditioning drills were much more extensive than last year," said Aye. "We had 21 guys, and we wanted to weed out the ones who weren't ready for college ball. Not only were we not able to weed anyone out, no one even came close to quitting."

At the time, Aye said the Bulldogs would suit up 11 players for the state tournament.

One of those players, third-year sophomore point guard Shane Carney, was Hancock's first all-state representative since 2011.

Hancock upset No. 7 Fullerton 70-67 in the first round of its Southern Cal regional. The Bulldogs erased a 77-72 deficit with 48 seconds left in the first overtime at No. 2 San Bernardino Valley College and won 91-90 in double overtime to get into the state tournament.

Carney, who finished with 32 points, hit a driving layup with two seconds left in the first overtime to force the second extra period. Kevin Baines made a big put-back basket for the Bulldogs then grabbed a rebound on a missed SBVC free throw with Hancock ahead 91-90.

Hancock tagged SBVC with its first home loss of the season and snapped the Wolverines' 14-game winning streak.

The Bulldogs built an early lead against City College of San Francisco, but the Rams took control late in the first half, and Hancock ran out of steam. CCSF won 86-63.

Still, it was a big season for the Bulldogs. Besides Carney, Devin Davis (11.2 points a game) and Glenn Jordan (10.7) were consistent scorers for Hancock. Davis and Jordan joined Carney on the All-Conference Team.

Another consistent regular for Aye's squad, Spirit Ricks, went down with an ankle injury in the first half of the Fullerton game. Santa Maria High School graduate Shemarr Parker stepped in ably in his place.

Parker scored eight points and snared six rebounds in the regional final.

"This has been a very special group, with the chemistry," Aye said at a practice before the state tournament began.

"These guys have played very unselfish basketball all year."

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Sports Reporter