Fullerton advances to the semifinals of the SoCal Regionals, after beating the visiting Allan Hancock Bulldogs in the quarterfinals 68-59.
The Hornets were led by the efforts of sophomores Ronne Readus and Lance Coleman, who both combined for half of the Hornet’s 68 points Saturday night. Coleman II had 23 points on 9 of 17 shooting from the field including four 3-pointers.
“We came out with a whole lot of energy. We knew it was our first playoff game and their second, so we wanted to match their intensity,” Coleman II said.
Readus was the second leading scorer grabbing 16 points and tying his season-high in rebounds again for the fifth time this season with 19 rebounds.
No.16 Allan Hancock stood strong despite being huge underdogs. Of course, the Bulldogs were responsible for upsetting the Hornets on the same floor in the second round of last year’s SoCal Regionals.
In the first half, it was Hornet’s sophomore Jailen Moore led in scoring. As the Hornet’s sharpshooter, Moore made three out of the four 3-pointers in the first half.
“I knew I had to bring my A-game today. This includes my shooting ability and my IQ that involves everything else about my game,” said Moore.
“The first half was a little shaky, but I knocked down three shots for us. In the second half, I came out early and hit a three. But then I tried to compensate for more and couldn’t find my stroke,” Moore added.
In the opening half, the Bulldogs were able to gain the lead five different times, while the Hornets were only able to regain the lead four times. Yet the Hornets capitalized more on their leads and when they captured the lead for the fourth time, they never let up and went into halftime leading 33-27.
On the last shot of the half, Coleman II received the pass from sophomore guard Dylan Banks at the top of the key. Coleman II pivoted left and juked past his defender by going right to create an open lane to shoot the floater. Coleman II converted and uplifted the Hornet’s momentum by making the lead by six points.
Coming out of the second half, the Bulldogs wouldn’t let up and found themselves taking the lead just six minutes in the final half as Bulldogs Mike Mensah’s hit a 3-pointer.
The Hornets stuck with perimeter shooting as their strategy to close out the Bulldogs with Readus cleaning up on the boards on the offensive end. There is a reason why Coleman II was awarded co-MVP. He led the second half charge to reign in the victory for the Hornets so they could advance to the semifinals.
Coleman II hit numerous shots in a timely manner when the Hornets needed him the most. Then on the defensive end, Hornet sophomore guard Harrison Bonner was utilized as the defensive catalyst during the crucial possessions of the game. Bonner found himself subbing in and out of the game on every foul and timeout.
“Because we were missing Zeke, we would have to use everyone to help break the press by moving the ball around with the pass. In the second half, I always know it’s my time to lock in and when the ball comes to me I have to make plays,” Coleman II stated.
It was evident, the Hornet’s potent offense at home was too much for the Bulldogs to handle. The Bulldogs began to breakdown during the latter stages of the game, resulting in fouling Fullerton countless time that rewarded the Hornets to be in the bonus.
Readus found himself at the charity strike with immense pressure to knock down his free throws. He converted on all five free throws in the clutch to secure the Hornet’s 68-59 revenge victory.
Fullerton head coach Perry Webster downplayed the idea on the Hornet’s revenge against Allan Hancock.
“This is a different team for us, so I wasn’t too focused going into the game about what happened last year. We’re focused on one game at a time and try to get to the state tournament,” coach Perry explained.
“I thought there were a few key moments in the game that separated us. Ronne Readus’ offensive rebound putback and one basket was a really big play for us. As well as Lance Coleman’s big threes in the second half. Those two are sophomores and are two of the best players in the state. They should be doing that,” coach Perry added.
No. 1 Fullerton will continue their journey to win the state championship, as they face No. 7 Southwestern Jaguars at home in the semifinals of the SoCal Regionals on Saturday, Mar. 9. Tip off is at 7 p.m.