State Championship Tournament Central l
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VENTURA – The Fullerton Hornets and Santa Rosa Bear Cubs battled it out in what was the most exciting quarterfinal game of the 2019 CCCAA Men's Basketball Championship, with Fullerton ultimately emerging with a 71-68 victory over the underdogs.
Lance Coleman II led his Hornets with a double-double, netting 31 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, both game high totals. Jailen Moore put up 12 points as did Ronne Readus, who also added 11 boards.
Fullerton missed four of their first five shots and had to call an early timeout, trailing 9-3 less than three minutes into the game, but four minutes later they had tied the game up at 13. The teams traded baskets and free throws for the rest of the half, with neither team able to gain more than a three-point advantage. Jailen Moore finally hit a three pointer in the waning seconds to send the Hornets to the locker room with a 37-31 lead, after a half that saw six tied scores and five lead changes.
The beginning of the second half saw more see-sawing with the Bear Cubs answering for Fullerton's baskets, gradually chipping away at their lead to tie the game at 46 with 12:40 remaining. They were able to rack up five-point lead at 9:04 after a Damian Wallace three-pointer, but a pair of Ronnie Readus free throws and a Lance Coleman II three tied the game again at 56. Santa Rosa pulled ahead again, and drew a timeout out of Fullerton at 6:24 after a steal and a fast break layup by Ryan Perez stretched their lead to 63-56. Perez finished with 17 points, behind Skylar Chavez who posted a team-high 28 with 9 rebounds.
Fullerton fought back over the next five minutes to retake the lead by one. Santa Rosa got a free possession after Ronne Readus couldn't control what would have been his rebound with under a minute left, and Skylar Chavez made them pay for Rodrick McCobb's foul, sinking both of his free throws for a 68-67 Bear Cubs lead. Fullerton responded with two pairs of Lance Coleman II free throws to seal Santa Rosa's fate with 10 seconds remaining, representing the game's ninth lead change.
Fullerton (28-3) tips off against Fresno City (28-3) - a 68-56 winner over Chaffey on Thursday - on Saturday at 3 p.m. Defending champion City College of San Francisco (30-1) plays Citrus (25-6) in the other semifinal at 1 p.m.
(Brian Mellblom, CCCSIA contributor)