Saddleback shooting guard, Reggie Varner, gets in a defensive stance against Fullerton College point guard in Thursday’s conference title loss against the Hornets (Courtesy of Colin Reef)
The Saddleback men’s basketball team drop the rock at home 74-54 on Thursday evening in their conference championship game against the Fullerton College Hornets. They finish the season with an impressive overall record of 24-4, but place second in the Orange Empire Conference for the first time since the 2010-2011 season.
Braeon Brady battles in the post with a Fullerton College opponent in last Thursday’s conference showdown. (Courtesy of Colin Reef)
The Gauchos and Hornets were locked in a stalemate for most of the first half with no considerable edge favoring either team. The Gauchos hot shooting streak from Tuesday’s game against Santa Ana College was stifled Thursday when they missed their first five shot attempts from the field.
Starting point guard for the Hornets, Ian Fox, was relentless on the glass, pulling down five of his seven first half rebounds within the first eight minutes of the game. This made it next to impossible for the Gauchos to score any second chance points or establish any kind of presence in the post.
With 8:41 left in the first half, Josh Feitl hoisted up a deep three, knotting the game at 20-20. The rest of the first half would be a barn burner ending with two ties and seven lead changes.
Sophomore point guard for the Saddleback College Gauchos, TJ Shorts, charges the paint and throws up an off balance runner while being swarmed by defenders during last Thursday’s home loss against Fullerton College (Courtesy of Colin Reef)
Starting point guard for the Gauchos, TJ Shorts, wowed the crowd with an acrobatic floater as time expires to give the Gauchos a one point lead going into halftime. He played all 20 minutes and shot 5 of 8 from the field, scoring 14 of the Gauchos 36 first half points.
Twenty minutes of back and forth basketball from the first half seemed to carry over in the second half. In the first three minutes we had 1 tie and 3 lead changes. But, after a couple made layups by the matadors, the momentum completely shifted.
Starting center for the Gauchos, Braeon Brady, found himself tangled up with one of the Hornets underneath the opposing basket midway through the second. Two technical fouls were issued to players from both teams after a heated skirmish following the foul on Brady.
It was at this point when the outcome of the game seemed inevitable. The Gauchos ended up shooting 20 percent from the field while the Hornets shot 45.5 percent outscoring the Gauchos 39-18.
The Gauchos weren’t able to capitalize in this game but that doesn’t mean they’re out for the count. The Gauchos will likely have a top five seed in the playoffs for the State Championship because of their overall record.