The Saddleback Gauchos had a close game with the Southwestern Jaguars at the Palomar Tournament, ending the night with a winning score of 60-52, and third place overall.
Saddleback started the game off with a slight disadvantage, missing some three-pointers but staying in the game by getting consistent layups.
Saddleback’s T.J. Shorts and Southwestern’s Richard Grove, both sophomore guards, used their ball control skills to score plenty of points throughout the game, consistently coordinating with their respective teammates.
At the buzz of the 30-second shot clock, the players went back to their coaches to get feedback and information on future plays. After the break, the Gauchos picked up the pace and landed some memorable three-pointers.
Southwestern freshman guard Iman Chatman-Dixon caught the Gauchos’ rebound and immediately returned it as a layup, outrunning anyone who tried to defend him. Chatman was called for his third offensive foul, and Saddleback regained possession.
Shorts received a pass and made a layup and successfully scored. On the rebound, Grove, who outmaneuvered Saddleback and made a two-point jumper, supported Southwest’s offense.
Toward the end of the second quarter, the Jaguars’ 6-foot-6 freshman forward Emilio Arellano held up the Gauchos offense with an offensive foul, hitting Gaucho Caleb Thomas’ hand as he went for a layup.
Thomas’ foul shots went in one after the other later, returning the favor when he fouled Grove, who missed both his free-shot throws.
At halftime, the Gauchos were sweating with Southwestern tailing behind them by a narrow one point lead, 27-26.
Chatman stole the ball away during one of Gauchos’ offensive plays and soon after Devonte Evans and Edward Winslow got into a jump ball concession.
Saddleback’s freshman guard Devonte Evans and Southwestern’s forward Edward Winslow got into a jump ball concession and Chatman-Dixon gained possession, putting the ball into the grip of Southwestern’s Arellano, who missed his layup shot.
Soon after, the Gauchos’ freshman guard Justin Faison made two back-to-back baskets. On the second shot, Shorts helped him score in a smooth play they coordinated together, almost as if it were choreographed.
“We threw it to him and he made it in,” said Andy Ground, Saddleback Gauchos head coach.
Just before the final buzzer, Southwestern landed a three-pointer, but it wasn’t enough to take the victory, ending the game in Saddleback’s favor.
The Saddleback Gauchos are now second in the Orange Empire Conference standings, behind Riverside College, with six wins and two loses so far this season.
The Gauchos will face the Jaguars again on Dec.2 in the gymnasium at 5 p.m.
Next up are the Riverside Tournament at Riverside College on Dec 6-10, followed by the local favorite Bill Brummel Classic tournament Dec. 15-17 before the holiday break.