The Saddleback men's basketball team won its second straight tournament on Saturday with a 60-52 win over inter-district rival Irvine Valley College in the Brummel Classic finals. Saddleback trailed by as many as nine in the opening half before storming past the Lasers.
Irvine Valley had a great run in the tournament, jumping out to big leads on two solid teams (San Diego City & Mt. San Jacinto) and holding on in both games to advance to the finals. They looked like they could do it again as they opened up a 29-22 lead over Saddleback as the game neared the 5-minute mark of the opening half.
That's when Saddleback's defense took over the game while T.J. Shorts did his thing on offense. The Gauchos went on a 9-2 run to close the half as Shorts scored 13 in the half in leading the run. The sophomore from Tustin High School nearly put the Gauchos ahead at the final buzzer when he launched a shot the entire length of the court that hit the front of the rim as the two teams went to the locker room tied at 31-31.
Saddleback kept up the defensive pressure in the second half. The Gauchos took their first lead since the opening minute of the game when Nick Crankshaw drained a three-pointer with 17:03 remaining for a 34-32 lead. It began a 15-3 run for Saddleback and sealed the fate of the Lasers.
Shorts continued his leadership down the stretch, forcing Irvine Valley into fouls and getting to the charity stripe. The sophomore from Tustin High School finished a game-high 25 points, making 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Shorts also had a team-high seven assists while taking home a second straight MVP trophy after winning the same award last week at Riverside. In addition, it was the second straight season that Shorts has won the MVP of the Brummel Classic after winning it in 2015.
Saddleback is now 13-2 on the season and has won eight straight games. The Gauchos have one non-conference game before the end of the year when they travel to Glendale College for a game against the Vaqueros on December 30. Tip time at Glendale is scheduled for 3:00 PM.