Fullerton College men’s basketball head coach Perry Webster discusses the Hornet’s season after winning the 2019 CCCAA State Championship and what the title means for his legacy.
Once Fullerton captured their fourth State Title in men’s basketball, Hornet’s head coach Perry Webster accomplished something that has never been done before in California at the community college level.
Webster won the state championship at every level starting from an MVP player at Saddleback, to an assistant coach at Saddleback, and now as the current head coach for Fullerton. He accomplished this feat in a span of nine years at the age of 30.
Heading into the season with 9 out of the 14 players on the roster were sophomores. Fullerton was all in to bring home a state title since their last championship in 2006 under Dieter Horton.
However, the road was not easy for Fullerton, despite having what would be the Co-MVP of OEC in Lance Coleman II & the OEC Defensive Player of The Year Ronne Readus on their squad.
Battling through the adversity of injuries was the theme of this year’s team as they lost a vital part of the Hornet’s backcourt early in the season. Sophomore guard Zeke Alley had a season-ending injury 16 games into the season. This was a devastating loss as Alley had established himself as the Hornet’s primary playmaker.
Then once Fullerton made it to the CCCAA State Tournament, the Hornet’s starting freshman guard Omajae Smith came down with the flu and missed the state tournament opener versus Santa Rosa. Fullerton would pull through after a close 71-68 finish without Smith.
On top of battling through injuries, Fullerton was faced with another key player being lost during the most important game of the season. This, however, was not from injuries but foul trouble. Sophomore forward/center Ronne Readus would get tossed out of the game early in the second half having played only 10 minutes in the game.
Sophomores Dylan Banks & Vaj Rice would also foul out of the game, as well as Smith. Yet, Fullerton was still able to dig deep and use their full bench to bring home the state title against the defending champs.
Before the start of the season, this team had the state championship in mind like all the other schools they were competing with. What separated Fullerton from the rest of the crowd was their battle-tested mentality to bounce back stronger from their losses throughout the season.
Both the players and coaching staff made no excuses when things did not go their way and just worked even harder to achieve their ultimate goal.
It took a special group of players to check their egos at the door and know what their roles were on the team. A disciplined coach who gave tough love to push his players to their fullest potentials and supporting fans from across all the Fullerton athletic program, who was there for every home game to witness something special.
Now here is what the Hornet basketball players had to say about their championship season with coach Webster and what this season has meant for their time here as students and athletes of Fullerton College.
Lance Coleman II (#1 Guard/Forward)
Coleman II reflects on being selected as Co-MVP of OEC. “It meant a lot. I knew the whole season my team had my back and coach had my back and to get this prestige award, it means a lot to me.”
Coleman II on how coach Perry impacted him as a player and person. “Since day one when I transferred to Fullerton I knew that transferring for me would be my best decision. He has embraced me as his son and our relationship from day one has been very straight forward.”
Coleman II talked about his transition from Irvine Valley to Fullerton College. “Losing the first round last year at Irvine and sitting out for a season, what we did this year made it worth it. I’ve been playing with all my brothers and it was a great year.”
Coleman II emphasizes the feeling of winning the state championship. “I will remember all the 7 am days. Screaming and yelling in practice we went through, and of course, when the last buzzer went off and we won, it was an amazing feeling.”
Ronne Readus (#12 Center)
Readus shares his journey from past seasons to now. “It meant a lot, being kicked out last year, my freshman year, and taking it all in my last year for my sophomore year. It was the biggest thing I’ve won so far and it feels good.”
Readus opens up on his candid relationship with coach Perry. “He’s like a father figure to me, it always kept it honest and kept it 100, and he never lied to me.”
Readus reflects on his efforts to receive Defensive Player of The Year for OEC. “All the hard work paid off. I pride myself on defense and every practice, I try to let my teammates know that, and when I got the award, it was like congratulations.”
Readus gives insight on the team’s adversity during the season and how they dealt with it. “It was tough throughout the season, losing star point guard in Zeke, altered the team a lot. Omajae and Dylan stepped up a lot. Those big games were tough, but we got through it.
Rodrick McCobb (#11 Guard/Forward)
McCobb expresses his content on being a state champion. “Meant everything, 6 am weights, running the hills, biggest goals. Basically, we hit adversity and we had to buckle down. With 4 people in foul trouble, it was up to me and the team to find a way to get shots so we could get the win.”
McCobb states his mindset on achieving First-Team OEC. “Something that I always worked for and wanted. It was a goal of mine to start the year accomplished it and got it.”
McCobb shares his relationship with coach Perry and what he meant to McCobb. “Everything. He was the reason I am the player I am today. When he recruited me, he told me he would get me to where I want to be. Every word he said was true, we have a pretty close bond and he’s like another father to me and I really appreciate Perry.”
Omajae Smith (#2 Guard)
Smith expressed his thoughts on how the season played out. “It was good. I mean kind of expected it from the beginning, but not expecting it. We worked hard all season to get there and accomplished that goal. It was fun we all got in sync really fast and worked hard
Smith shares his surprise of receiving Second-Team OEC honors. “It was good. I wasn’t expecting it, but it was good. I played the 2/3, then Zeke got hurt so I went to the 1, help felicitate the ball.”
As a freshman, Smith reflects his time with the sophomore players who are set to leave, “Sophomores their laughs and jokes and hanging out with them outside of school. Going hard with them at practice. Will bring that next season and look for teamwork and brotherhood form new team like we had with this last team.”
Dylan Banks (#4 Guard)
Banks summarizes the purpose of winning the championship and what it meant for the team. “It means everything because that’s what we worked for. When you achieve your goals that’s a really good feeling and that was a good feeling for us to accomplish our goal”.
Banks recalls Alley’s impact on his game and how supportive he was for the team. “Mentally Zeke played a big part, for the team, he helped push me through, letting me know that my confidence needs to be there all the time because I am good enough to do it. Physically Lorena helped us out with treatment and keeping our bodies right and that we are good to go each game.”
Banks gives his honest opinion on coach Perry and how his coaching ability was effective for the team. “As a person, Perry is the greatest person ever, as a coach, Perry is my guy, and he’s the greatest coach I have ever been around. I know that everything he does is for the greater good of the team and I know that’s why he’s a winner. He wins at everything and he instilled a winner mindset into all of us and that’s why we were able to win the championship. He is the greatest coach I have ever had.”
Zeke Alley (#3 Guard)
Alley reflected on what it meant win they won the championship. “It meant a lot to win the state championship. We worked hard in the summer at 7 am every day making sure we were all on the same page. We knew what we wanted and we had it done. Even though I went down with an injury, I knew they would have my back, we have a lot of good players. I knew it was going to happen and we are all happy.”
Alley shares what was the most memorable moment of the season for him. “Citrus game, we were down the whole game, we all stayed together and we battled through it and it was important since they had already beat us at the beginning of the season. We continued to battle and we on.”
Jailen Moore (#10 Guard)
Moore gives insight on the team facing adversity throughout the season. “The games were tough. We were without key players, fought through the adversity and was just glad that we were able to get the championship. I did my job to help the team with shots and defense and glad we came out with the victory and win the state championship.”
Moore reflects on his performance that earned him First-Team OEC, “It was a good feeling. This meant that one of the best players in the league in Orange County, so it was a great feeling to be recognized for that.”
Moore dives into what type of coach Perry is during the season, “Man, Perry is a great coach. He pushes you every day and it shows that he really cares about you and as you can see the outcome of the hard work and everything we’ve been through was well worth it.”
As the Hornets continue to celebrate, up next, the sophomore players will continue their journey at the next level. Rodrick McCobb to Northern Colorado, Ronne Readus at Cal State Bakersfield, Lance Coleman II signed with Cal State Northridge, Jailen Moore off to St. Cloud State and Ezekiel Alley to Northwest Nazarene.