FULLERTON — Things started off perfect for the Glendale Community College men’s basketball team on Saturday night in the second round of the Southern California Regional playoffs.
Shots were falling, defensive stops were being made and the Vaqueros surged ahead midway through the first half.
But then, Glendale went ice cold and its season came to an abrupt end.
The 18th-seeded Vaqueros wound up shooting just 29.4 % from the field, as second-seeded Fullerton’s depth and sizzling shooting carried the host Hornets to a 99-68 victory and a spot against No. 10 Antelope Valley in the next round of the playoffs.
“They’re good,” Glendale college Coach Brian Beauchemin said of the Hornets (26-4). “They made a lot of shots. We just ran out of gas.”
The Hornets, who hit a blistering 56.8 % of their shots, were paced by guard Larry DeHughes’ 28 points and guard Justin Carter’s 22 points. Fullerton buried 10 three-pointers on 20 attempts, seven of those coming from DeHughes, a first team All-Orange Empire Conference selection.
The Vaqueros (17-16) had five different players wind up in double figures, led by Markus Monroe and Curtis Leslie, who each finished with 14 points. Kevin Dancer added 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Tulio Yamasita and Tyief Thompson chipped in 10 points apiece.
“They got in our face a little bit and when you are fatigued and they get in your face, it’s tough,” Beauchemin said.
Glendale college snatched its first lead of the game, at 19-18, when Hoover High grad Zareh Zargaryan drained a three-pointer in transition that was set up by one of four Dancer rejections.
The Vaqueros pushed the bulge to 21-18 when Zargaryan, who finished with nine points, skied down the lane and dropped in a scoop layup with 11:09 left.
It was the last time the Vaqueros would lead, as the Hornets, the Orange Empire Conference champions, outscored them, 81-47, the rest of the way.
“Everything went wrong,” said Zargaryan, who scored 21 points in Glendale’s first-round playoff win over Compton College. “Whatever you could think of went wrong for us. We didn’t make shots. Defensively, we didn’t get [after] it.”
As if playing the second-ranked team in the state wasn’t enough of a challenge, Glendale college, which finished fifth in the Western State Conference South Division, was forced to play the game short handed.
Guards Jose Garcia and Lanval Gordon, both key cogs in the Vaqueros’ rotation, missed the game. Garcia is out with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, while Gordon was dealing with family matters.
The Vaqueros, who trailed, 47-36, at the break, have pulled a few remarkable second-half comebacks this season, including one in the 99-90 win over Compton, but there was no such rally on Saturday.
Fullerton’s constant full-court press eventually wore down the Vaqueros, as they turned the ball over 16 times in the contest.
“Fatigue came in,” said Zargaryan, a freshman forward. “Playing with six guys and trying to break a press, it catches up to you later. They are a real good team. You’ve got to give it up to them. They have a lot of depth.”
Fullerton took its 11-point halftime lead and saw it quickly balloon to a 79-50 advantage thanks to Darrian McKinstry and Calise Patterson, who each scored nine points in the second half.
“I thought we hung in there pretty good in the first half,” said Beauchemin, who has notched 501 career victories at Glendale college. “I tried to rotate our guys. That kind of game where you have to bring the ball up [against a press], we were just fatigued.”
One area where Glendale college was able to excel was at the free-throw line. The Vaqueros knocked down 23 of 25 attempts, compared to Fullerton’s five of eight.
If there is any solace the Vaqueros can take from Saturday’s game, it is that they will return nearly their entire roster next season. They only have three sophomores on this team.
“It’s gonna be a long summer,” Zargaryan said. “Yeah we are young, but we expected better [today.] I’m sure we are gonna come back strong and hungry.”
DYLAN KRUSE covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3252 or email@example.com.