For Fullerton College center Michael Long, the epitome streak player, Wednesday was a frustrating night.
Long's game, which has more ups and downs than the stock market, crashed to a season low, and at the most inopportune time.
The 6-foot 6-inch sophomore, who had scored 22 points in the Hornets' first-round South Coast Conference Shaughnessy playoff win against Orange Coast College on Monday, had only four points Wednesday as Fullerton was routed by Cerritos, 79-62, at Cerritos.
The Shaughnessy final victory advances the SCC co-champion Falcons (23-7) to Saturday night's state regional playoff against Western State Conference champion Taft at Taft, where a berth in the state championship tournament will be at stake.
Meanwhile, Fullerton (19-12) was eliminated from postseason play and will have the entire off-season to comtemplate its most one-sided defeat of the year.
The primary difference was how badly Long, who didn't score until late in the game, was outplayed by Cerritos' 6-8 center, Brian Coleman.
From the opening tipoff, it was evident that Coleman (8 of 12 from the floor) would be "on" and that Long (2 of 5 from the floor with no field goals attempted in the first half) would not.
Coleman scored 11 of Cerritos' first 15 points and helped the Falcons take a 30-24 lead at halftime.
In the second half, it was more of the same as Coleman, who finished with 25 points, scored at will from the inside and the outside as Long, who was averaging 14 points per game going in, appeared to simply look on.
Long scored his first points with 3:30 left. But by then, the Falcons--who blew a two-game, first-place, regular-season lead and then lost a one-game playoff and seeded berth in the state playoffs last week to Mt. San Antonio--were planning their victory celebration.
After the buzzer sounded, Cerritos players picked up Coach Jack Bogdanovich and threw him in the school pool with his clothes on. Bogdanovich, too excited to dry off, emerged from his impromptu swim and explained how his team won so easily.
"One of our main objectives was to not let Long get a streak going, because he is very hard to stop once he gets going," Bogdanovich said. "And we accomplished that."
Fullerton Coach Roger See admitted that Long struggled, but preferred to credit Coleman with an outstanding effort rather than criticize his player.
"Coleman was in fifth gear all night and we were in third," he said. "Coleman and Cerritos really took us to the cleaners on the boards."
Fullerton normally is a solid rebounding team, but Cerritos made the Hornets look as if they had lead in their sneakers. The Falcons outrebounded Fullerton, 29-16, and that advantage gave them several second and third shots.
Not surprisingly, Coleman led Cerritos with 10 rebounds. Long, who averages 8 rebounds, had only 4.
The first ten minutes of the game were played at a rapid tempo and were intense. Tempers flared and elbows were exchanged, which is nothing new for these rivals who aren't exactly fond of each other.
Once during a wild stretch when the lead was exchanged eight times, the officials had to call timeout to prevent a fight.
But when cooler heads prevailed, Cerritos started to, too. The Falcons took the lead for good with 9:48 left in the first half on a bank shot by Bryon Strachan at 19-18. George Guy's shot just before the buzzer made it 30-24 at the half.
Fullerton made four turnovers in the first three minutes of the second half, and soon the Cerritos lead expanded. The Hornets were forced to foul, but that did them no good. Cerritos made 28 of 31 free throws in the second half alone.
Guy's tip-in with 10:56 left gave Cerritos a 51-39 advantage, and the Falcons were on their way to their second win in three games this season against Fullerton.
Cerritos' Joe Yezbak, after a slow first half, had 17 in the second half, thanks to 11 for 12 free-throw shooting and finished with 19. Jon Samuelson had 18 to lead Fullerton, Paul Rollins had 13 and Jim Smith had 11 points and 10 assists for the Hornets.
FULLERTON (62)--Samuelson 18, Rollins 13, Long 4, Smith 11, Trueman 10, Haymond 2, Pratt 4.
CERRITOS (79)--Guy 9, Heicke 5, Coleman 25, Wadlington 8, Yezbak 19, Collins 2, Miller 1, Strachan 8, Lueke 2.