Fullerton College honored former player Walt Simon in their first Annual Walt Simon Classic Basketball Tournament on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.
Walt Simon was the most prolific scorer that Fullerton College has ever seen during the 1964-66 season. Simon not only led the Hornets team in scoring with 893 points in 1964-65 and 815 points in 1965-66, but also hold the two-year scoring state record of 1,708 total points in just 63 games.
After attending Fullerton College, Simon was offered a scholarship to the University of Utah where he averaged 15 points, and voted first team All-League and Defensive Player of the conference during his senior year.
Walt Simon was drafted to Seattle Supersonics in 1968 and the Denver Rockets of the American Basketball Association. Simon played in both the United States and in Europe. He also coached youth basketball, high school, junior college and division one college.
Simon is the founder of the Basic Basketball School and has worked with John Wooden, Jerry West, Rick Barry and Phil Mathews.
The Simon family, along with former Hornet basketball players, attended the game to celebrate FC Hall of Famer Walt Simon. Prior to tipoff, Walt Simon’s son Miles Simon had a few words honoring his father’s legacy as a Hornet and his appreciation of the tournament.
The Hornets opened the tournament against San Diego Mesa and took an early lead with 9-0. San Diego stopped the run by the Hornets with a quick three pointer to get their first points on the scoreboard.
Both teams started to go back and forth with the scoring as the Olympians hit a pair of three-pointers, cutting into the Hornets lead with 11-15.
Trailing for most of the first half, the Olympians took over the lead with just over nine minutes left in the first half 21-20. The Hornets regained the lead with a three-pointer by sophomore Rodrick McCobb and then a driving layup from Ezekiel Alley, increasing the lead to 29-21 Hornets.
With just over four minutes left in the half, the Hornets Sophomore Omajae Smith hits a jumper to make FC lead 33-23. As the clock winds down and only two minutes left, the Hornets go on a 13-0 run to end out the first half with a score of 46-23.
The second half belonged to the Hornets as they start with a driving layup by Alley with an assist from Coleman II. The Hornets had their biggest lead with 25 with just over 19 minutes to play in the second half.
Fullerton kept San Diego in a distance that was too much for them to overcome as they continued to pile on the points. As time and frustration built on the Olympians faces, they knew the Hornets and this game was out of reach for them to overcome.
The offense dominated the court and Fullerton extended to their biggest lead of the tournament with 46 points came on a layup by Dylan Banks with just over four minutes left to play in the game. The Hornets would go on to win the first game 95-58 and set the tone for the tournament.
Fullerton sophomore McCobb ended with a game-high of 16 points. Ezekiel Alley followed up with 13 points, seven assists, and five rebounds. Smith had a good night scoring 14 points as did Coleman II, who scored 12 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Ronne Readus ended with nine points and seven rebounds, and Dylan Banks added 10 points and four steals.
Friday night the tournament continued as the Hornets faced Citrus College. Fullerton got off too an early lead passing the ball quickly, leaving Citrus turning on their heels in an attempt to steal the ball.
The Hornets got out to an early 12-5 lead with just under 13 minutes left in the first half. However, the Owls hit a quick 3-pointer to get back in the game and forced the Hornets to commit 10 turnovers.
Fullerton sophomore guard Rodrick McCobb read a Citrus pass play and was able to steal the ball mid-air and take it to the basket for a layup. Both teams went on a scoring run and at the eight minute mark, the game was tied at 21-21.
As the clock winded down before the half, Citrus put Fullerton on their heels as they went on a 12-2 run with just under six minutes to go in the half pushing their lead to 33-23.
The Hornets were unsuccessful in turning rebounds in to points as they trailed Citrus 35-42 going into halftime. Hornets sophomore guard Omajae Smith made 11 out of 12 free throw attempts during the first half.
With momentum on their side, the Owls started the second half by scoring eight quick points forcing the Hornets to call a timeout. The Hornets were down 12 points, when sophomore guard Lance Coleman II hits a 3-pointer to stop the Owls run.
As the Hornets looked to climb back in the game, just as the clock strikes 12 minutes, sophomore guard Ezekiel Alley puts up a 3-pointer and bringing the Hornets within 11 with a score of 59-48.
The Hornets were able to come within one point, 58-59, with a 2-point basket and a foul shot from Alley when there was just over six minutes left in the game. Fullerton sophomore center Ronne Readus had 10 rebounds in the second half, some of which were from his own basket attempts.
Trailing 59-48 and with just under 12 minutes, the Hornets went to work and went on a 9-0 run. Sophomore guard Rodrick McCobb hit back to back layups, sophomore Jailen Moore drained in a 3-pointer and Ezekiel Alley converted on an “and-one” bringing the Hornets to 58-57.
Just as Fullerton brought the game back and only down one point, Citrus regained momentum and went on a 14-0 run.
The Hornets were unable to answer as the defense of the Owls overpowered them and with 19 seconds left in the game, Readus makes a driving layup on the assist form Alley, but is was not enough and the Hornets lose 74-62.
Hornets sophomores Coleman II scored a team-high with 14 points, while Readus ended with a double-double putting up 11 points and hauling 13 rebounds in. Smith added 11 points and Moore, Alley and McCobb contributed 8 points each.
This had Fullerton with a record of 1-1 going into their last game of the tournament Saturday.
“I don’t think we played that well, we are still learning, we are a work in progress. Our best days are in front of us.” said head coach Perry Webster about the team’s performance on the Friday game.
Saturday night was the last game of the Walt Simon Tournament which featured a rematch with the Fullerton College and San Diego City College.
The Hornets and Knights started the game going back in forth shot for shot. Fullerton would go on to leak an early lead 22-16 with just eight minutes left in the first half.
However, moments later San Diego City would gained momentum and scored cut into the Hornets lead at 24-25. As the Hornets regained momentum approaching the four minute mark, sophomore guard Lance Coleman II made a driving layup which sparked the Hornets to go on a 10-4 run.
As the clock winded down with just two minutes, Fullerton pulled away from San Diego and closed the half at 39-33.
To start the second half, and with momentum still on their side, the Hornets extended the lead to 43-33, 18 minutes into the game. As the Knights tried to keep the game close, the defense of the Hornets overpowered them.
With a little over seven minutes left in the second half, the Hornets had their biggest lead of the game with a three-pointer by Coleman II that extended the lead to 21 and the score at 75-54.
The Knights would not give up as they added five quick points and tried to start a run for themselves. They were able to cut the lead down to 12 points with over four minutes left in the game bringing the score to 79-67.
However, the Hornets kept the Knights at bay as they continued to dominate the scoreboard. They went on to win the game 88-77 and end the tournament with a 2-1 record.
“I think that the guys bounced back today, fought through some adversity, we will continue to get better.” said coach Perry.
Fullerton sophomores Coleman II had a game high of 31 points and 7 rebounds, while Ezekiel Alley had 18 points. Ronne Readus had a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds and Rodrick McCobb had 13 points and eight rebounds. Jailen Moore added eight points.
Next up for the Hornets (3-1 overall) will be on the road where they will face Mt. San Jacinto College on Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.