COMMUNITY COLLEGE BASKETBALL : Saddleback Gets Share of Title With Victory

Saddleback earned a share of the Orange Empire Conference men's basketball title by rolling past Fullerton, 105-68, Wednesday in Mission Viejo.

The Gauchos, ranked fifth in the state, led by 16 at the half and expanded the advantage in the second half. The one-sided score also allowed Saddleback Coach Bill Brummel to rest his starters for much of the second half. None played in the final nine minutes.

"It looked like it was going to get kind of rugged out there," Brummel said. "I'm glad we got to rest the starters."

The break was most beneficial for sophomore forward Eric Ambrozich who has a sprained thumb. He had 11 points but exited with about 15 minutes left.

When Saddleback plays for the outright title Friday, things won't be so easy.

The Gauchos (25-4, 12-1) hold a one-game lead over Riverside (11-2 in conference), but the Tigers will play at Saddleback at 7 p.m. Friday. Riverside stayed a game back with a 99-79 victory over Orange Coast.

Micah Kroeger had 21 points and Anthony Carter 18 for Saddleback. Jason Cunningham had 25 for Fullerton (13-17, 4-9). The Hornets played much of the second half without forward Marcus Austin, who hurt his ankle in a scramble for a loose ball. Austin, who leads the conference in scoring with 24 points, had only 10.

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