FULLERTON — It was a valiant effort, but the Hancock College Bulldogs saw their men’s basketball season come to an end Saturday night with a 68-59 loss to the Fullerton College Hornets in a Southern California Regional quarterfinal game of the California Community College Athletic Associations (CCCAA) playoffs at the Hornets Nest in Fullerton.
Fullerton won the game at the free throw line where they outscored Hancock by nine points, 18-9, the final margin of victory.
Tasson Thomas led Hancock with 14 points. Mike Mensah added 12.
Lance Coleman II led Fullerton’s scoring with 23 points, including four 3-point baskets. Jailen Moore added 12 points.
Ronne Readus came up big for the Hornets. A 66-percent free throw shooter, Readus hit six of his seven shots from the charity stripe. Readus scored 16 points with 19 rebounds, with 16 of those coming from offensive boards — although the Bulldogs won the overall battle of the boards 39-37.
The Bulldogs fought their taller opponents all the way.
With 12 minutes remaining in the second half, Thomas hit a short jump shot to tie the game at 44-all.
But the Hornets Omajae Smith responded with a driving layup, igniting a 13-0 run that included one of Coleman’s 3s, for a 57-44 lead.
Trailing 60-46, Hancock got back in the game with its own 10-0 run that began with a Glenn Jordan 3-pointer and ended with two made free throws by Thomas to cut Fullerton’s lead to six.
However, time was running out on the Bulldogs because there was just 1:46 left in the game.
Fullerton attempted to drain the clock but Hancock began fouling — the Hornets hitting five of their next six free throws.
Jordan nailed a desperation 3-pointer to cut Fullerton’s lead to 65-59 with 20-seconds left in the game but the Hornets were able to close the game out from the free throw line.
In the first half, the teams were tied 25-all with 2:34 left until the break when Fullerton’s Moore hit back-to-back 3-pointers for a 31-25 lead.
Hancock’s Gabrys Sadaunykas hit a turnaround jumper with 30-seconds left in the half but Coleman hit a jumper at the buzzer to give Fullerton a 33-27 halftime lead.
The Hornets (26-3), the South’s No. 1 seed, avenged their 70-67 upset loss to the Bulldogs (22-7), the No. 16 seed, in last year’s playoffs.
Hoover wins Battle of the Coast
Fresno’s Hoover High School won the Championship of the inaugural Battle of the Coast boys volleyball tournament Saturday at Pioneer Valley High School.
Hoover topped Morro Bay in the championship game.
Santa Ynez defeated Pioneer Valley for third place.
Altogether, 11 teams participated in the two-day tournament which began with round-robin pool play games Friday that determined the seeding for Saturday’s final elimination brackets.