Saddleback showed balanced scoring as well as stamina Thursday night in beating Long Beach, 89-68, in the title game of the Rancho Santiago Holiday Tournament.
All five Gaucho starters scored in double figures and played at least 19 minutes in the second half.
Long Beach (16-5) led at the half, 37-35, and was ahead by as many as six, 45-39, early in the second half.
The Gauchos then went on a 12-0 run, which included four points each by Josh Borella and Antoine Jefferson.
Jefferson, who had 19 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, was selected as the tournament’s most valuable player.
Long Beach figured to be tired after winning a four-overtime thriller, 117-115, over Rancho Santiago Wednesday. But it was Saddleback Coach Bill Brummel who tested his starters’ endurance.
Except for one brief substitution, the starters--Jefferson, Borella, Derrick Walsh, Tes Whitlock and Eric Ambrozich--played the first 19 minutes 3 seconds of the second half.
“It wasn’t that fast-paced a game,” Brummel said. “So I figured we were all right with what we had out there.”
Walsh, a sophomore guard, was 10 of 14 from the field and finished with a game-high 23 points.
Long Beach did make a late run, cutting the Saddleback lead to six, 69-63, with 3:45 left.
But the Gauchos got baskets from Whitlock and Jefferson and two free throws from Borella to go up, 75-63, with 2:41 left.
Borella had 10 points and 10 assists, Whitlock had 18 points and Ambrozich had 12 points for Saddleback, which opens Orange Empire Conference play Wednesday at Fullerton at 7 p.m.
In the third-place game:
Mt. San Antonio 71, Rancho Santiago 70--Brian Sherman made a five-footer along the baseline as time ran out for Mt. San Antonio (7-9). Rancho Santiago (12-5) had taken a 69-68 lead on a rebound basket by Juan Castro with 11 seconds left. Sean Amos and Vlad Nieto had 15 points each for Rancho Santiago.