What a difference a year made for the Saddleback men’s basketball team. After an appearance in the state semi finals last year in Fresno, things hit rock bottom for the Gauchos.
Many players, like Gerard Anderson (Cal State Fullerton) and Lamont Morgan (Brigham Young) went on to Division I schools. With one returning player from last year’s team, Darryl Best, the Gauchos had 12 freshmen on their roster.
A coaching change mid-season and lack of experience led to a year of frustration.
After a 4-7 start to the season, former head coach Bill Brumell left the team because of personal reasons. His position was filled by assistant coach Nick Booker.
The Gauchos finished the year 11-19 and in conference play finished 3-9.
“As the year went on, we hung around in games,” Booker said. “Even in losses, the team gained confidence. We understand that if we play hard the entire game, we will have chances to win.”
In the team’s last game of the season, it visited Irvine Valley College on it’s first ever homecoming night. The Gauchos fell to the Lasers, 90-74, although there were signs of excitement for next season.
Cornell Jenkins scored 38 points and was 80 percent from behind the 3-point line. He was the teams leading scorer this season, averaging 12 points per game .
The season was not close to what last years team accomplished, although one would have to remember the team is very young.
Freshmen Charlie Oriel was second on the team in scoring this year, averaging nine points and 2.5 rebounds per game. Donavan Clark averaged eight points a game with three rebounds per game.