Saddleback Storms Back to Post 84-77 Win Over Host Tigers in 45th Annual Riverside Holiday Tournament

Saddleback Storms Back to Post 84-77 Win Over Host Tigers in 45th Annual Riverside Holiday Tournament

45th Annual Riverside Holiday Basketball Tournament, Dec. 6-9, 2016

Friday, Dec. 9 (all games at Wheelock Gym; games listed in chronological order):

Game 15, 11 a.m. (eleventh-place): Victor Valley (2-9) 79; Cal. Miramar Univ. JV (1-7) 64;

Game 18, 1 p.m. (fifth-place): El Camino-Compton Center (8-3) 97, Mt. San Jacinto (11-5) 72;

Game 16, 3 p.m. (cons. champ./ninth-place): San Bernardino Vy. (11-2) 88, Barstow (4-7) 81;

Game 17, 5 p.m. (third-place): Fullerton (9-3) 83; Chaffey (9-4) 59;

Game 19, 7 p.m. (championship): Saddleback (10-2) 84, Riverside City (11-3) 77;

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RIVERSIDE -- Coming within five minutes of winning its own tournament for the first time since 2009, the Riverside City College (RCC) Tigers men's basketball team lost to its arch rival and fellow Orange Empire Conference member, Saddleback College, 84-77, in the championship final of the 45th Annual Riverside Holiday Tournament (RHT) Friday night (Dec. 9) at legendary Arthur N. Wheelock Gymnasium.

Riverside City (11-4 overall), which reached the tournament championship final game for the 24th time in the 45 years of existence, has won its tournament ten times and been runner-up now 14 times.

In a closely contested first half, the Tigers and Gauchos were matching each other with scoring runs. RCC led, 29-20, with 8:04 left before Saddleback (10-2 overall) stormed back and took a 43-40 halftime lead when sophomore guard T.J. Shorts (Tustin HS) drained a buzzer-beating three-pointer.

In the second half, the teams combined for 49 field goal attempts and 45 free throw attempts, thanks to a combined 55 fouls that were called, including three technicals on Saddleback.

Down the stretch, Riverside built a 74-64 lead with 5:12 to play, but the Gauchos engineered a 20-3 run to close out the game as Shorts, who would be named tournament MVP, took over. Shorts had a layin, free throw, defensive rebound, assist and steal as Saddleback retook the lead at 75-74 with three minutes left. From there, Shorts scored a layin and five free throws, four in the last minute to secure the win.

Shorts finished with 33 points in 35 minutes and added six rebounds and five assists. Also named to the all-tournament team were sophomore forward Breaon Brady (Ellet [OH} HS), who had 13 points and four rebounds in 15 minutes before fouling out, and freshman guard Justin Faison (El Toro HS), who had eight points and five rebounds.

It was the sixth Riverside Holiday Tournament championship for Saddleback and third in the last four years for Gauchos head coach Andy Ground. Defending Riverside Holiday Tournament champion Saddleback has now won it six times (1986, 2008, 2012, 2014-15-16).

For Riverside, freshman guard Andre Wilson (Jurupa Valley - Patriot HS '16) had a team-high 23 points en route to all-tournament honors and freshman guard C.J. Clark (Riverside / John W. North HS '16), who came off the bench for nine points and all-tournament kudos.

In a slightly different format this season, all the games were played in Wheelock Gym which means that there were six, count 'em, six games on Thursday (Dec. 8) in the same venue for the first time in tournament history. Another first was set on Friday, Dec. 9, when five games (championship, third place, fifth place, ninth place and eleventh place) were held as well.

In the third-place game, the Fullerton College Hornets opened with a 9-0 lead, led, 44-17, at halftime and cruised to an 83-59 win over the Chaffey College Panthers. The Hornets shot 54.8% (17 for 31) in the first half and finished at 53.3% (32 for 60). Conversely, Chaffey shot only 20% (six of 30) in the opening stanza. In the interesting stat of the day, the panthers committed only six turnovers.

Sophomore guard Dillon Reise (Mayfair HS) led Fullerton (9-3 overall) with with 20 points, en route to all-tournament honors. Sophomore forward Johnathon Ross (St. Anthony HS) added 18 points. Sophomore guard Kameron Curl (Hebron HS) had a team-high 13 points for Chaffey (9-4). 

The fifth-place game saw the upstart El Camino College-Compton Center Tartars (Compton) outlast the Mt. San Jacinto College (MSJC) Eagles, 97-72. Compton shot 56.4% (22 of 39) in the first half to lead 54-41 at halftime. Five Tartars scored in double figures, led by sophomore guard Jayvon Brown (King Drew HS), who had a game-high 22 points to garner all-tournament honors for Compton (8-3 overall). Sophomore forward Jaryn Taylor (Yucaipa HS) had a team-high 14 points for MSJC (11-5 overall).

The ninth-place game saw the San Bernardino Valley College (SBVC) Wolverines overcome a poor-shooting (32%, eight of 25) first half and then post an 18-4 run with six minutes to go in the second half for an 88-81 win over the Barstow College Vikings. Sophomore forward Brandon Jolley (Pasadena HS) had a game-high 30 points for SBVC (11-2 overall). Sophomore guard Gloire Biongo (Bull City Prep) had ten points and was named to the all-tournament team. Sophomore swingman Jordan Rogers Garcia (Valencia, SPAIN) had a team-high 27 points for Barstow (4-7 overall).

In the eleventh-place game, the Victor Valley College (VVC) Rams doubled their season total of wins with a solid 79-64 win over the California Miramar University (CMU) junior varsity Fighting Falcons (which is based in San Diego).

Sophomore forward Joe Rushing (La Verne Lutheran HS) put on a show with a game-high 43 points to lead all scorers in this week's tournament. Rushing made 16 of 21 field goal attempts and 11 of 14 free throw attempts, and added a game-high nine rebounds for Victor Valley (2-9 overall). Freshman forward Kiman Benson (Bishop Amat HS) had a team-high 14 points for CMU JV (1-7 overall),

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45th Riverside Holiday Tournament All-tournament Team (2016):

Saddleback: T.J. Shorts (MVP), Breaon Brady, Justin Faison;

Riverside: Andre Wilson, C.J. Clark;

Fullerton: Dillon Reese;

San Bernardino Valley: Gloire Biongo;

Compton: Jayvon Brown;

***

For the second time in its 45-year existence, the Riverside Holiday Tournament featured 12 teams, instead of the usual 16-team format which had been utilized since 1982 (except for 2010 and 2011 when no tournament was held due to the reconstruction of Wheelock Gymnasium).

From 1969 through 1981, except for 1976 (no tournament) and 1977 (four-team tournament), the tournament had an eight-team format.

Riverside has won its tournament ten times (1974, '77, '81, '85, '91, '92, '94, '95, 2006, '09), followed by (now defunct) Los Angeles City, which won it seven times (1982, '96, '99-2000-'01, '03-'04). The Tigers have been tournament runners-up 14 times.

Fullerton has won the Riverside Holiday Tournament twice (1993 and 2005) and was runner-up in 2008. Chaffey won the tournament in 2013.

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