Gauchos basketball team off to hot start

The Saddleback Gauchos basketball team swept the College of the Desert Tournament this past weekend. The Gauchos won all three tournament games and have started the season 3-0. They defeated Glendale Community College, San Bernadino Valley College and finally College of the Desert in the tournament finals.

Saddleback won its first game 71-63, behind sophomore guard, Andrew Bournes and sophomore center, Conor Clifford. Clifford, who recently transfered from UC Irvine, had 22 points and Bournes had 24 points. Head coach Andy Ground explained where Conor Clifford fits into the offense.

“We run the offense through him,” said Ground. “He poses a big threat for opposing teams.”

In the semifinals, Saddleback defeated San Bernardino 83-78. Clifford again had a big game, getting 21 points and 8 rebounds. Other contributors were Bournes who had 16 points, freshman guard, Dusty Baker had 13, and freshman guard, Jalen Hall had 12 points.

“It was good to see them respond the way they did in a tight situation,” Ground said to “Tomorrow they will see how it feels to be in a championship game. Hopefully they come ready to play.”

The final game of the tournament was the Gauchos’ most lopsided victory, defeating host Desert by the score of 99-88. Baker led the team in points and assists with 23 and 7 respectively. Saddleback shot just above 62 percent from the field and got 42 from its bench.

In addition to Baker, freshman guard, Maurice Jones had 16 points and freshman forward, Brandon Fagins had 14 points.

“It was an encouraging way to start the season, given we knew absolutely nothing about the opponent,” Ground said to “We saw plenty to be happy with, but also saw a lot of things we need to work on.”

The Gauchos will play another tournament this weekend, when they travel to San Bernardino Valley College. SBVC hosts this tournament annually. Saddleback’s first matchup will be against Pasadena City College, who is 1-2 to start its season. The game will be played this Friday at 1 p.m.

“Each team is going to pose a different threat to us,” said Ground. “It is going to be a tough tournament.”