Fullerton, which seemingly lives to foul, perished by the free throw Friday night in a 54-50 Freeway League basketball loss at Buena Park.
The Indians committed 22 fouls, and Buena Park took advantage of the opportunities, particularly in the fourth quarter, to gain a tie for first place in the league with Fullerton and Sunny Hills at 4-1. Buena Park is 12-7 overall, Fullerton 11-8.
Buena Park Coach Ed Matillo expected Fullerton’s aggressive, foul-if-you-must defense but not the clutch free-throw shooting by his team, which generally has been lacking in that department.
“Their strategy against us is to foul us because we haven’t been a strong free-throw shooting team,” Matillo said. “I thought the key was Prentiss Johnson’s free-throw shooting.”
Johnson, a senior guard, converted seven of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter as Buena Park pulled away after the teams finished the third quarter tied, 34-34. Center Richard Harvey added four from the line, and junior forward Angel Barrios contributed three for 14 of the Coyotes’ 20 points in the period.
Harvey led all scorers with 18 points. Johnson had 14 and Barrios 11.
Fullerton didn’t help its cause by turning over the ball seven times in the fourth quarter.
Buena Park went on a 14-5 run to take a 48-39 lead with 1 minute 57 seconds remaining. Fullerton closed the gap to 53-50 on a three-pointer by guard Chris Hartshorn with 10 seconds left but could not score again. Johnson made the front end of a one-and-one three seconds later after being fouled intentionally.
Forward Craig Olson led Fullerton in scoring with 16 points, and Chris Hartshorn added 13.
Matillo considered his team’s victory a morale booster.
“It’s a good thing for this team to be in first place,” he said. “A lot of these same players were on an 0-20 team two years ago.”
In other league games:
Sunny Hills 69, Sonora 59--Terry Mann scored 22 points to lead visiting Sunny Hills (13-6, 4-1), which dashed to a 24-10 lead at the end of the first quarter. Chris St. Clair and Andy Lanhawn scored 12 each for Sonora (3-16, 1-4).
Troy 84, La Habra 66--Randy Abbott scored 25 points and Chris Inman scored 21 for Troy (6-12, 2-3). Wendall Wickersham scored 27 points for La Habra (5-14, 0-5).