It was a performance reminiscent of two years ago when he led Sonora High School to the Southern Section 2-A basketball championship.
Jon Samuelson scored from the inside and from the outside. He was a 4 for 4 from the free-throw line. And, he played tough defense, too.
His game-high 22 points Saturday night led Fullerton College to a 73-63 South Coast Conference victory over Saddleback in Mission Viejo. Even more important, the game may have signaled an end to the slump that plagued Samuelson last year at Cal State Fullerton and much of this year with the Hornets.
The 6-foot, 6-inch sophomore forward scored 16 of his points in the second half to help Fullerton (9-3 in conference, 15-10 overall) remain two games behind behind first-place Cerritos. The Fullerton win also jeopardized the Shaughnessy playoff hopes of Saddleback (5-8, 15-11).
“This was Jon’s best game for us,” Fullerton Coach Roger See said. “He really took command.
“This was a very big win. We haven’t given up hope of finishing in second place. We figure we’ll have to win our four remaining games to do it, but stranger things have happened.”
What was different about the Fullerton win was that it didn’t come in overtime. Five of the Hornets’ SCC previous victories, including their last three, had come in overtime.
For a while, it looked as if this game might require an extra period, since Fullerton could manage only a 25-21 lead at halftime.
But then Samuelson and teammates Michael Long and Jim Smith went to work in the second half to make the game a rout.
The inside scoring of Samuelson and Long and the outside shooting and steals of Smith gave Fullerton a margin as big as 17 points, 67-50, with 2:47 remaining.
A big factor in Saddleback’s poor second half was the fact that its best player, guard-forward Alexander Hamilton, drew his fourth foul early in the half after elbowing Long and played tentatively until fouling out late in the game.
“You have to get yourself mentally ready to play, and Alexander wasn’t ready tonight,” Saddleback Coach Bill Brummel said.
Long added 17 points and 9 rebounds for Fullerton, and Smith had 14 points. Eric Cornly led Saddleback with 20 points, many of those coming in the final minutes.
FULLERTON (73)--Smith 14, Trueman 2, Long 17, Samuelson 22, Rollins 8, Pratt 4, Haymond 6.
SADDLEBACK (63)--Hamilton 9, Dawson 5, Mulder 8, Thomas 8, Cornly 20, Sullivan 4, Carr 1, Taylor 6, Cunningham 2.
Orange Coast 64, Santa Ana 48--The victory was the Pirates’ first at Santa Ana since 1972, and it also marked the first time since 1969 that OCC (7-6, 16-11) had beaten the Dons (2-10, 10-15) twice in a season.
Turnovers were the key as the Dons committed 17 to OCC’s 5. The Pirates scored 14 points at the foul line to the Dons’ 4, and shot 56% (22 of 39) to Santa Ana’s 49% (25 of 51). Shaughn Ryan and Brad Farmer led the Pirates with 17 points each.
ORANGE COAST (64)--Ryan 17, Johnston 11, Goudge 13, Mullet 4, Farmer 17, Radovcich 2.
SANTA ANA (48)--Streavel 1, Hughes 8, Warner 16, Escobedo 2, Shaw 4, McCall 7, Hata 2, Kemph 2, Prange 6.
Cypress 68, Golden West 58--The Rustlers, trailing 53-51 with 8:02 remaining, were outscored, 15-7, and suffered their 14th straight loss at Huntington Beach.
The Chargers (7-5, 16-11) was led by John Berwick, who scored 17 points. Ron Bailey had 13 and Kirk Kramer added 10. Golden West (0-13, 7-19) was led by Bill Bruce, who scored 22 points.
CYPRESS (68)--Bailey 13, Martineau 10, Umans 2, Horn 4, Buckner 2, Simmons 2, Marusich 4, Swanner 4, Berwick 17, Kramer 10.
GOLDEN WEST (58)--Bruce 22, Mann 12, Debbs 4, Smith 6, Love 14.