Finishing the season with a 25-4 record and the No. 1 seed in the Orange Empire Conference Championship the Hornets’ playoff run came to an end during a Saturday night home game against the Owls.

No.1 Fullerton College hosted No.9 Citrus College, in the third-round playoff game that determined which team would advance to the California Community College Athletic Association’s state tournament the 2022 CCCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.

The last time the tournament was held was in 2019, before COVID-19, when the Hornets won the state championship against San Francisco City College 85-79.

In the first half of the game, the Hornets were up 14-6 after sophomore guard Ronnie Stapp hit two early 3-pointers. Owls guard Cedric Reed responded by hitting a 3-point shot for a 17-16 lead.

Forward Gaven Ramirez fights for the rebound at Saturday night's game at the Hornets Nest.

Forward Gaven Ramirez fights for the rebound at Saturday night's game at the Hornets Nest. Photo credit: Gerardo Chagolla

Fullerton freshman guard, Kobe Newton, and sophomore forward, Tristan Williams both played well in the first half. Newton had five points with four rebounds and one assist.

Williams remained perfect from the free-throw line and ended the first half with eight points, one block, and two rebounds for a 27-20 lead. Momentum indicated the Hornets might roll into the half.

Instead, the Hornets shot 44% from the field in the first half which allowed the Owls to enter the locker room with a 34-30 lead. On a 14-3 run, the Owls closed the half.

In the second half, the Hornets struggled with field goal shots going 13-31 shooting at 41%.

Hornet guard Ronnie Stapp going for a layup during Saturday night's game.

Hornet guard Ronnie Stapp going for a layup during Saturday night's game. Photo credit: Gerardo Chagolla

Stapp scored a team-high of 18 points with four rebounds and three assists.

“My teammates got the ball in my hands. It put me in a position to score,” said Stapp, “We didn’t get a lot of shots to fall in tonight. We have to tip our hats to them. Good luck to them the rest of the way.”

Williams also played well with 17 points going 6-8 from the field with five rebounds and two blocks that helped keep the game close.

Late in the second half, Newton made a layup resulting in the closest score of the game 73-67 Citrus College.

Coach Webster drawing up a play for his team on Saturday nights game.

Coach Webster drawing up a play for his team on Saturday nights game. Photo credit: Gerardo Chagolla

Despite bringing the score closer, throughout the game and even after Webster called for a timeout, the Hornets failed to convert 33 scoring opportunities of both layups and mid-range shots.

“I thought Citrus played well. They made shots and I thought they played out of character. A few guys that don’t usually hit shots, hit shots and had to make plays. And this time of year when that happens, it’s tough to overcome,” said coach Webster from Fullerton College.

The final score was 84-72 Citrus College.

Coach Webster excited about a shot made by the Hornets during Saturday nights game.

Coach Webster excited about a shot made by the Hornets during Saturday nights game. Photo credit: Gerardo Chagolla

“Thank you guys for coming out. For being here and being proud of this team for all they accomplished. One night doesn’t change what a great season we had. Winning 25 games is impressive.”

Referencing the seasons’ challenges like COVID-19 shutdowns and, “major injuries to major players,” Webster said, “at the end of the day, I am very proud of them.”

With this loss, the 2021-2022 season ends but returning Hornets are already looking forward to next season.

Like freshman guard Kobe Newton who had a total of 12 points in Saturday’s game and 6-foot-8 center, RJ Johnson who played a total of one minute could possibly be a starter next season upon the departure of the starting center Chazz Hutchison.

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He/Him/His. Gerardo is a Journalism Major. Hiking expert. Outdoors enthusiast. Sports lover.