Basketball team closer to conference title   

Tags: Athletics, Basketball-Men

The Irvine Valley men's basketball team was in position to capture its first Orange Empire Conference title in more than a decade after taking care of Fullerton, 73-54, Wednesday night at home.

The Lasers improved their record to 24-3 overall and 9-2 in conference. Irvine Valley and Riverside both had just two losses in conference after Wednesday night.
Irvine Valley plays at Saddleback Friday night with a win clinching a share of the title. With that would come a top seed in the Southern California Regional playoffs, which start next weekend.
"We will have to beat Saddleback for a third time and we know that is going to be tough," Hernandez said. "But this team has been very poised and doesn't get too rattled. We have to look at it as another game on our schedule. We are going down there to try and win a conference title."
Irvine Valley's last and only conference title came in the 1996-97 season in Hernandez's second season as coach.
"We've had a lot of seconds and thirds in the past," Hernandez said. "Saddleback and Riverside have kind of dominated this conference. We hope this is our year to change that a little bit."
Irvine Valley, which is ranked 11th in the state, came out firing against Fullerton, playing one of its best halves of the season. IVC led, 38-18, at the end of the first half. The Lasers shot 50 percent (14 of 28) in the opening half. Fullerton shot just 29.2 percent (7 of 24) and the Lasers beat the Hornets on the boards, 26-10, in the opening 20 minutes.
"I was encouraged we got off to a good start," Hernandez said. "I was afraid we would have trouble keeping our focus because everyone is excited about the Saddleback game. We were able to get out and then hold the lead. And we didn't have to play too many guys too many minutes."
IVC's largest lead was 24 points early in the second half.
Fullerton made one run in the second half, but the lead never got under 13 points.
Irvine Valley ended up shooting 48.1 percent (26 of 54) for the game and out-rebounded Fullerton, 44-38. The one blemish on the stat sheet for the Lasers came at the free throw line where IVC shot just 50.0 percent (15 of 30).
The Lasers got a balanced scoring attack with seven players scoring at least six points.
Sophomore forward Max Carrier had 16 points, four rebounds, three assists and three blocks. Sophomore guard/forward Durrell Norman added 13 points and five rebounds, freshman forward Travis Fulton contributed 10 points, four rebounds and five assists and freshman forward Joe Eberhard ended up with nine points and four assists.
IVC had 21 assists on its 26 baskets and committed only 11 turnovers.
"I thought some of our subs, especially Sean Donovan (six points), did a great job," Hernandez said. "And I thought our team defense was really good. We did a good job of challenging shooters and forcing bad shots. And I was pleased with our passing and taking care of the ball. That is how you win."

 
Posted by  Nathan Quach  on  2/18/2010
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