The 2019-20 Hornets basketball team is prepared to return to the postseason in order to defend their State Championship with a new lineup of players.
New sophomores DJ Houston and Tawon Elston have the obligation of learning the Hornets style of basketball and displaying leadership qualities for the freshmen to look up to.
Sophomores, Harrison Bonner and Omajae Smith are the only returners from the 2018-2019 State Championship team. They have the responsibility of exemplifying determination and adaptability to the freshmen who desperately want to be part of a championship team.
The eight sophomores from last season taught Bommer and Smith how to adapt in the face of adversity. When two point guards Ezekiel Alley and Smith suffered season ending injuries in the 2019 postseason, the bench players stepped up and carried their team into the championship.
“The key to the [championship] victory I really believe was fighting through adversity because a lot of things went wrong,” said Bonner. “We just kept fighting through and kept believing and really just stuck to what we were taught.”
The camaraderie between the players and excellent team chemistry will be even more important this coming season than the previous season.
It already seems as though the new players are supporting one another with their dedication to the program. They’re quickly learning the disciplined style of play that head coach Perry Webster has centered the men’s basketball program around.
Freshman center, Jacob Eyman was adamant about the acceptance he felt his first day of practice of college basketball. He compared the team to feeling more like a brotherhood rather than a basketball team.
New players like Eyman are excited about playing on a basketball team with a recent State Championship like Fullerton. They are quickly learning Coach Webster’s aggressive style of play.
“I think we really dive into skill development here,” stated Eyaman. “We workout with [Assistant Coach] McKay in the mornings and we workout at night… We’re also honing in on a lot of other things like discipline and mental toughness.”
Both Bonner and Eyman are comfortable in their playing strategies and are anxious to play teams such as City College of San Francisco to create the competitive atmosphere that guided the Hornets to a championship last season.
While the players themselves are eager a confident in their abilities, head coach Perry Webster is taking a realistic approach when viewing his chances of returning to the championship. While he does admit the pool of players he has acquired is talented, he insists they have some work to do before he considers them championship material.
Currently, the Fullerton College men’s basketball program is ranked No. 5 overall in California’s community colleges.
“I actually personally think fifth is a little too high for us,” said Webster. “We’re new, we’re young, we’re not gelling or clicking yet quite at the level we need to… Individually each guy needs to get a little more discipline to their game.”
Hindsight will determine if Webster’s concerns and the players’ confidence prove to be correct. As of now, the men’s basketball team is poised to be on their toes in anticipation of a competitive post championship season.
The Hornets 2019-2020 season opener will be at home on Friday, Nov. 1 at 5 p.m. against Vanguard University’s junior varsity team.