Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Hornets season ends two wins short of history

With Fullerton in the 3C2A Final Four looking to be crowned back-to-back state champions for the first time in school history, the Hornets fell apart late in a physical contest that needed overtime to determine a winner.
Hornets+sophomore+guard+Jeremiah+Davis+elevates+above+Giants+sophomore+forward+Jaylon+Lee+for+a+two-point+attempt+on+Saturday%2C+March+16%2C+2024.+
Matthew Gonzalez
Hornets sophomore guard Jeremiah Davis elevates above Giants sophomore forward Jaylon Lee for a two-point attempt on Saturday, March 16, 2024.

As the final seconds ran off the clock, different emotions ran through the Hornets bench. There were tears, straight faces, and mouths open in shock. A team that is not used to coming up short had to experience all of those feelings on one of the biggest stages in basketball as Fullerton College fell to College of the Sequoias 71-60 in the 3C2A Final Four on Saturday night at Mt. SAC.

For the latter reaction, the shock started with seven seconds left in the game. With the Hornets up 52-50 and sophomore captain RJ Banks on the free throw line, he had one more shot left to try and force COS into needing a 3-pointer to tie.

Before the free throws, COS head coach Dallas Jensen, while he calmly applied some chapstick, asked one of the referees to give him a timeout as soon as one of his players got the ball over to his corner of the sideline. This gesture would set up the most crucial play of the Giants’ season.

COS sophomore guard Jose Cuello from Harlem, New York, naturally was chirping at Banks as he walked to the free throw line. Whether it caused Banks to miss that second free throw or not, no one can know, but the tactic either way appeared to be effective.

Cuello took the outlet pass, dribbled right over to his coach at that agreed spot. Without skipping a beat, Jensen waved for him to go for it. Using the momentary hesitation, Cuello got a step on OEC Defensive Player of the Year Amound Anderson II, and put up a crazy, running yet fadeaway shot falling towards his bench.

Unlike the movies, there was no dramatic, slow-mo moment where you see every revolution of the ball as it soars through the air. Not this time. This shot was a fast, straight laser that never touched the rim. This was the only shot Cuello made in the second half in ten attempts.

There was a ton of confusion as the horn sounded. First off, did that shot really go in? Second, was that a 3-pointer, meaning COS had won the game? And third, why does the scoreboard say 54-50 in favor of Fullerton?

All three questions were answered in a short amount of time by the referees. Yes, that shot sure did go in. It is highly unlikely for a shot with that little amount of arc to hit all net, but it did. Cuello’s toe was indeed on the arc, so this was a very, very long 2-pointer. As for the scoreboard, that was just user error amidst the chaos of someone hitting a buzzer beater in the Final Four of the 3C2A state tournament. Fans found themselves ready to watch five more minutes of free basketball.

As to be expected, the momentum had completely shifted to the Giants (27-5), and as they scored the first four points of overtime, the Hornets looked dead in the water. However, a 3-point play from sophomore guard Jeremiah Davis brought Fullerton back within a point. That is as close as the Hornets got to taking the game back in their favor. 

 

 

The Giants shot 6-8 from the field and 7-9 from the free throw line in overtime. Fullerton’s offense struggled throughout the entire game, but it was magnified in the extra period, as they shot 2-8 with two turnovers.

“I would have liked to see us play a little better offensively,” said Hornets head coach Perry Webster. “I felt like we were exerting so much energy just to get stops so that we really couldn’t exert energy on offense.”

That offensive struggle was real during all 45 minutes of this game for both teams. For the Hornets, they started out making only one field goal in the first six minutes of the game. Down 9-2 and looking for a spark, Webster turned to his sharp shooting big man, freshman Shawn Woodson out of a timeout. He came in and splashed two straight 3-pointers to bring the score to 11-8 in favor of COS.

At around the seven-minute mark, freshman forward JQ Strong hit a top of the key 3-pointer, giving the Hornets their first lead of the game at 21-20. After that shot, there were six lead changes to close out the first half. Fullerton took a 33-30 lead into the break.

In the second half, both teams had a hard time putting the ball in the hoop. Fullerton shot 24% from the field including 0-12 from 3-point land. COS was not much better, shooting 32% from the field and 1-6 from beyond the arc.

Davis led all scorers with 22 points, as he was the only constant on offense for Fullerton. He was able to get wherever he wanted to on the floor, despite COS playing two 6 ‘9 centers that clogged up his usual mid-range space.

“My guys trust me.. I love them for that,” said Davis. “I just let the game come to me and just took advantage of that and played to my strengths.”

Also atop the scoring column for the Hornets was Anderson II, Strong, and sophomore guard Jaden Byers, who all chipped in nine points apiece.

College of the Sequoias had four different players score in double digits, led by sophomore guard Omari Nesbit with 18 points. He had help from freshman forward Jaden Haire who scored 16 points, Cuello with 14 points, and sophomore center Cameron Clark added 13 points off the bench.

Trying to put a bow on the season where Fullerton College finished with a record of 27-5, Webster had nothing but admiration for his team that went down fighting.

“I love coaching these guys. I love RJ Banks, I love Jeremiah Davis, I love all of them,” said Webster. “Those guys have made a hell of an imprint on me… A remarkable career for those guys [Banks and Davis]. I’m proud to be a Hornet, and I’m going to continue being proud to be a Hornet.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Jake Rhodes, Editor-in-Chief
Jake Rhodes is the Editor-in-Chief for The Hornet Newspaper. He has been on The Hornet Newspaper for four semesters. He is a seven-time award winning journalist. He has received second place in Sports Game Story as well as Meritorious recognition in Enterprise News Story/Series for an investigation into Title IX concerns at Fullerton College from JACC. Jake is also a national CMA Pinnacle award winner, receiving first place in Sports Multimedia Story, second place in Sports Investigative Story, and Honorable Mention for Sports Game Story. He has also received an honorable mention as producer of Around the Hornet for Audio Podcast and a third place finish as a contributor for Audio Podcast from JACC. While he has served as EIC, Jake is responsible for The Hornet securing an ACP Online Pacemaker award, which has been referred to as the "Pulitzer of college media." The Hornet has also been recognized for "General Excellence: Online News Site" by JACC in both semesters Jake has served as EIC. He was also elected to be the new JACC SoCal Student Representative for all JACC members in Southern California for 2024-2025. Outside of The Hornet, Jake is an assistant coach with the Varsity Boys' basketball team at Fullerton Union High School and is also a bartender at Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ. His end goal in Journalism is to be a beat writer for an MLB or NBA team or a sportscaster. Jake enjoys spending time with his wife Alexis, daughters Samantha, Madison, and dog Cocoa.
Matthew Gonzalez, Staff Photographer
Matthew Gonzalez is a third semester staff photographer for The Hornet. Aside from being a staff reporter, he is also into sports photography. Matthew's passion in sports comes from watching and covering football, soccer, and basketball. During his free time he enjoys working out or listening to music. He is a huge Taylor Swift lover. Matthew plans on transferring to Cal State Northridge next fall to get a bachelors degree in Journalism.  His end goal is to work for a newspaper company.

Comments (0)

All The Hornet Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *