Saddleback wins Bill Brummel Classic with “big” performance from Shorts

Saddleback College’s men’s basketball team completed their sweep of the Bill Brummel Classic, Saturday, by defeating Mt. San Jacinto College (12-4), 62-51. The Gauchos (14-1) beat Long Beach City College and MiraCosta College to advance to the finals of the tournament.

“I thought it was a good performance on our part,” said Saddleback head coach Andy Ground. “I thought we defended well all tournament and that’s why we ended up being successful.”

The Gauchos started off the game hot, getting out to a quick 6-0 lead. They kept the lead, but the margin slipped rapidly after multiple turnovers. With eight minutes remaining in the first half, Saddleback’s lead had been cut to one, the score being 14-13, prompting the Gauchos to call a timeout.

Saddleback sophomore guard Josh Mishler hit a three-pointer after the timeout and the Gauchos stepped on the gas pedal for the rest of the first half.

At halftime the score was 31-20, with freshman guard T.J. Shorts having scored the last nine points for the Gauchos. Shorts said he wasn’t thinking about the scoring streak during the game.

“Really, I was just thinking about running the offense and whatever opened up I just took what I had,” said Shorts. “Coach [Ground] told me to penetrate and that’s what I did, I got easy buckets.”

The second half started out fast-paced with both teams trading baskets. MSJ cut the lead to four at one point, but some strong defense and a 7-0 scoring run, with around 11 minutes remaining, put Saddleback up 43-32.

“It starts on the defensive end, we really like to emphasize taking teams out of what they like, taking them out of there comfort zone,” said Shorts.

From there, the Gauchos lead never went below seven points and they took the tournament title, winning 62-51. This was Saddleback’s third tournament win of the season, the others being the Cuesta Tournament and the Riverside Holiday Tournament.

Sophomore forward Brandon Fagins was named an all-tournament player in part because of his six blocks in the championship game. Shorts was named tournament MVP. Shorts was humble about winning the award.

“It was a good team win and my team carried me and I just took what I had,” said Shorts.

Mishler led the Gauchos in rebounds with seven and freshman guard Devonte Klines led the team in assists with four. Klines also was second in scoring in the game, getting himself 11 points.

“I feel like we played really good, the scouting report was good on their best player [Tre Nottingham],” said Klines. “I just look forward to shutting down their best player, I wanna guard the best player.”

Saddleback will now only have one game until their first conference game of the season Jan. 8. Ground said he will give the team six days off after Saturdays game and then they will get back to practicing for their game against Glendale Community College on Dec. 30.

Ground is prepared however for a conference schedule that features tough match-ups against Fullerton College (11-4) and Irvine Valley College (11-4).

“[Conference is] wide open, a lot of good teams this year in our [conference] and Glendale will be a tough warm-up game to get us prepared for [conference],” said Ground.

The contest against Glendale is at home and at 3 p.m.