MEN'S BASKETBALL: OEC CHAMPIONS!!!

The 2017 Orange Empire Conference Champions.
The 2017 Orange Empire Conference Champions.

The #6 Hornet basketball squad entered a packed Saddleback Gymnasium Thursday night, and left as champions of the Orange Empire Conference after dethroning #2 Saddleback 74-54.

The Fullerton win completes the conference sweep of the Gauchos this season and ended Saddleback's five-year reign as the champs of the OEC.

FC jumped out to a 12-5 lead in the first minutes of the game thanks to a Kendall Lauderdale jumper.

Saddleback's Josh Feitl hit a deep-three to tie it up at 20 apiece at 8:31, and the dogfight was on as both teams exchanged shots for the rest of the half. TJ Shorts put the Gauchos up 36-35 on a nice jump shot as the last second of the half ran off the clock.

Fullerton took back the lead (39-38) at 17:10 on a pair of free throws by Dillon Reise. From there, the Hornets went on a 20-6 run that completely swung the game in their favor at 59-46 with 8:19 left.

With time running out, the Gaucho's staunch defense had no answers as the Hornets ran away with their 28th conference championship. The last time Fullerton won the title was in 2009.

In his second year as the Hornet head coach, Perry Webster wins his first conference title, and looks to lead FC to a second consecutive playoff run.

Incredibly, the Fullerton bench only scored 2 points (Johnathon Ross). Apart from one, all the starters scored in double-digits. Kenny Barnes tied the game-high with 22 points. Barnes also added 10 boards for a double-double effort. Ian Fox had a big game scoring 21 points with 9 rebounds and 3 assists. Nick Anderson dropped in 11 points, with 6 assists, and ripped 3 steals. Dillon Reise had 10 points, and Kendall Lauderdale had 8 with 5 rebounds.

Saddleback's TJ Shorts also had a game-high of 22 points and also delivered 4 assists. Nick Crankshaw put up 10 points and Josh Feitl scored 7 points.

Up Next: Once the seedings are announced, the Hornets will find out who, when, and where they will play next. Stay tuned!

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