Hornets stunned by Hawks on the road

Fullerton, the 3rd ranked team in the state, had their 29 game win streak against OEC opponents snapped by Santiago Canyon in a thrilling second half.
Hornets sophomore guard Alex Archer attempts to score while dodging Hawks freshman guard Tony Colley on Feb. 7, 2024.
Hornets sophomore guard Alex Archer attempts to score while dodging Hawks’ freshman guard Tony Colley on Feb. 7, 2024.
Ciara Gonzalez

The No. 3 Fullerton Hornets traveled south down the 55 Wednesday night to face the 28th ranked team in the state Santiago Canyon College in a showdown that was headlined by star players. The game brought excitement from both sides between the top two teams in the OEC, but ultimately, it was the Hawks night as they topped the Hornets 69-65.

With about 5 minutes to go in the second half, the Hornets were clinging onto a minuscule lead that had slowly been threatened all half. The lead sat at just one when Hawks sophomore guard Kai Smith connected on an “and-1” to give the Hawks a 54-52 lead, which was their first lead since the 15 minute mark of the first half.

However, on the next possession, Hornets sophomore guard Jeremiah Davis connected on a big jumper to tie the game back up. That was the last time the Hornets saw any shot at taking the lead.

The last five minutes of action were highlighted by Smith and Hawks freshman Chico Lopez accounting for 12 of the final 15 points Santiago Canyon scored.

The Hornets had their chances down the stretch, but in crunch time, freshman guard Christian Watson missed a pair of free throws followed by Davis missing one of two from the line. This left three points off the board which could have changed the game for Fullerton College.

Hornets freshman guard Christian Watson elevates over and looks to hit a shot against Hawks’ freshman guard Eli Arthurton on Feb. 7, 2024. (Ciara Gonzalez)

Neither team shot great from the charity stripe which was a major reason the Hornets were able to stay in the game late. But, with 25 seconds left and the Hornets hopes dwindling down, Lopez nailed a fade away jumper to seal the Hornets fate, making the score 67-60.

One of the biggest reasons for the Hornets ultimate defeat was their shooting not just from the free throw line, but also from three point land. The team shot a staggering 1-17 from behind the arc, which equates to making only about 5.9% of those shots.

“It was a tough loss, it’s hard to win when you shoot 1-17 from three. We had a lot of good looks, we just did not make them tonight,” said head coach Perry Webster.

Hornets sophomore Amound Anderson II high in the air attempts to score on Feb. 7, 2024. (Ciara Gonzalez)

It was a tale of two halves for the Hornets as they had a strong first half, especially when their mini run to end the half pushed their lead up to 10, 34-24. Sophomore guard RJ Banks lead the way with 8 points.

Things were going well for Fullerton defensively as well as they held Smith to just five points in the first half. He came into this contest averaging 17 points per game.

But there was one player the Hornets (20-4, 11-1) could not hold down and that was Lopez who scored 10 points in the first half alone. Lopez came into the contest only averaging seven points.

“We know Smith can get baskets, he made some tough shots. It’s more about Lopez and us not doing a good job defending and listening to scouting report defense,” Webster said. “Us as a staff, we put a lot of time into giving our guys the advantage, but our team is not being very coachable and not following game plans very well right now and we need to fix that.”

Despite the loss, the confidence still remains within the team and of course the goals remain clear: win an OEC title along with another state championship according to Banks.

“Every night we got to come and play. Any team can beat us and every team wants to beat us. You saw how they celebrated after they beat us, they were looking forward to this game and probably had it circled on their calendar,” Banks said.

The Hornets came into the game winning 29 straight OEC games and 51 of their last 53. Due to a poor shooting night and costly missed free throws, that streak came to an end.

Fullerton sophomore guard Jaden Byers flies through the air attempting to score on Feb. 7, 2024. (Ciara Gonzalez)

“I think our team played with a lot of grit. We got down ten at half time and kind of battled our way back. Fullerton did not have the best shooting night. I thought we kind of buckled down and played some great defense and got out in transition,” said Santiago Canyon head coach Todd Dixon.

Scoring wise for the Hornets, Davis led the way with 18 points, 13 of which came in the second half. Sophomore Amound Anderson II added in 14 points, and Banks finished with 12 points after a quick start in the first half.

For the Hawks (18-6, 9-3) it was all Smith and Lopez as the two combined for 48 points with Smith totaling 26 and Lopez scoring 22.

Moving forward for the Hornets, they set sail to face the Orange Coast Pirates (10-13, 4-7) at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9 on the road.

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About the Contributors
Quinn Cisneros, Sports Editor
Quinn Cisneros is a second semester Sports Desk Editor for The Hornet Newspaper.  He is a JACC award winning journalist for his involvement in a Title IX investigation. His interest in journalism came from his passion of sports. He enjoys watching, playing, and writing about sports. Quinn's end goal in journalism is to become a sports analyst. When not writing he enjoys spending time with his dog.
Ciara Gonzalez, Staff Reporter
Ciara Gonzalez is a staff reporter in her first semester at The Hornet. She likes to read, play with her dog Dino, and spend time with her friends and family. Her goals for the future are to get a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and work for a news organization as a reporter.

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