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Saddleback Loses, Ends Up Tied Again


The men's Orange Empire Conference basketball title race came to a familiar and somewhat painful end for Saddleback Friday.

For the second consecutive season, Saddleback lost the final game to Riverside and has to share the title with the Tigers.

Riverside used a stiff defense and the offense of forward Gary Williams to win, 77-72.

Riverside (29-5, 12-2) won the conference title outright in 1994 and has shared the last two with Saddleback (28-6, 12-2).

"We've been to the state [tournament] for the last three years," Riverside Coach Bob Schermerhorn said, "and I think it's a bigger accomplishment to win or share this [conference] title for three years in a row."

The true pain for Saddleback comes because the Gauchos will receive the conference's No. 2 seeding into the Southern California playoffs, which start Friday. The pairings will be announced Tuesday.

Riverside gets the No. 1 spot because the Tigers beat third-place Orange Coast twice and Saddleback split with the Pirates.

Saddleback had little trouble with Riverside's defense in the teams' first meeting in January, which the Gauchos won, 102-95.

But this time, Riverside prevented the ball from getting inside and pressured Anthony Carter to the point where he had trouble getting open.

Carter, who is averaging 28 points, finished with 24 but was five of 17 from the field. He made 14 of 14 free throws.

At the other end, Williams, a sophomore forward who played at the University of Richmond last season, dominated the game on the inside. He finished with 41 points and 11 rebounds. He had 45 in the teams' first meeting.

Williams made 10 of 15 shots in the first first half. In comparison, Saddleback was eight of 26 from the field in the first half and trailed, 43-32.

Riverside upped the advantage to 19 points early in the second half, but Saddleback started to rally.

Riverside had three starters on the bench with four fouls while Saddleback used a 16-0 run get within one, 56-55, with 11 minutes 20 seconds to play.

But then Saddleback got into foul trouble when Carter and Rod Beavers each picked up his fourth foul in the next three minutes.

David Drakeford (20 points) scored to get Saddleback within two, 65-63, with 5:36 left, but the Gauchos were never closer.

Williams put it away with a rebound basket to move Riverside ahead, 76-69, with 59 seconds left.

In other men's games:

Golden West 67, Irvine Valley 63--Rod Scheuerman scored a game-high 27 points and Ray Jimmerson scored 22 to lead Golden West (14-20, 4-10) at Irvine Valley. Josh Porter scored 20 points for Irvine Valley (15-16, 6-8).

Orange Coast 109, Fullerton 87--Six players scored in double figures, paced by Brian Fracalosy's 21 points, for visiting Orange Coast (18-13, 9-5). Ty-Juan Berry and Damon Smith each scored 25 points for Fullerton (7-23, 0-14).

Rancho Santiago 84, Cypress 80--Rancho Santiago (20-11, 8-6) rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit to defeat Cypress (13-18, 5-9). Ramon Alliman scored 20 points, Chris Rose scored 19 and Todd Wilson had 18 for Rancho Santiago. Cypress was led by Paul Pappas' 24 points.

In Orange Empire Conference women's basketball:

Fullerton 77, Orange Coast 66--Nicole de Bruijn scored 18 points to lead five Hornets in double-figure scoring as Fullerton (15-15, 7-7) upset visiting Orange Coast (22-10, 8-6).

Irvine Valley 69, Golden West 59--Heather Robinson scored 16 points and Caroline Monahan and Leila Ryan each had 12 points for Golden West (17-15, 7-7).

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