The Saddleback men’s and women’s basketball teams both captured Orange Empire Conference championships last week and will begin post-season play starting this Friday. This marks the first time since the 2002-2003 season that the Saddleback men’s and women’s teams both captured conference titles during the same season.
The Gaucho men’s team (24-5) shared the conference title with Santa Ana College but was awarded the conference’s highest seed into the playoffs and was selected as the No. 5 team in the 18-team regional playoff bracket. The Gauchos will play host to Pasadena City College (20-9), the second-place finishers in the South Coast Conference’s North Division, this Friday (February 28) at 7:00 p.m. in the campus gym. It will be Saddleback’s only home playoff game unless No. 4 Chaffey (25-5) gets upset in its first-round playoff game against either San Diego City College or Allan Hancock College.
The Saddleback women’s team captured their Orange Empire Conference title outright with a victory over Fullerton last Friday. The Gauchos (19-10) finished one game ahead of Orange Coast College in the conference standings and received the No. 10 slot in the 18-team playoff bracket. The Gauchos will travel to face No. 7 San Bernardino Valley College (18-6) on Friday (February 28) with that game also tipping off at 7:00 p.m. San Bernardino captured the Foothill Conference title this season.
Congratulations to the Gauchos men’s and women’s basketball teams for a terrific season. While winning the conference title for one team is always a cause for celebration, having both the men’s and women’s teams capture the title is truly remarkable. I wish the teams all the best in the playoffs, and thank our head coaches, Andy Ground and Fentriss Winn, for their leadership and ability to nurture the very best in our talented players.
The Saddleback men’s team is led by conference MVP Eric Thompson. Thompson averaged 13.0 points and 8.7 rebounds this season, making 68 percent of his shot attempts. Guard Dalante Dunklin was also named to the first-team all-conference while both Andre McPhail and Dayton Boddie were selected as second-team all-conference picks. Head coach Andy Ground shared conference coach of the year honors with Santa Ana’s Dave Breig.
The Saddleback women’s team is led by conference MVP Deja Brooks. Brooks led the team by averaging 11.6 points per game and also added 5.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. Brooks was joined on the first-team all-conference list by teammate Tatiana Moana while Lillie Rellin, Shannon Abdulla, and Whitney Braeutigam were each named to the second-team all-conference list. Head coach Fentriss Winn was named as the conference’s coach of the year.
It is the third consecutive conference title for Coach Ground and the fourth title in the six years that he has held the coaching reins. It is the second conference title for Coach Winn and the women’s program in the 10 years he has been with Saddleback, which also includes two conference runner-up finishes.