The Irvine Valley men's basketball team recorded its ninth straight win, beating Long Beach City, 85-78, to open the Bill Brummel Classic at Saddleback College Thursday afternoon.
The Lasers have won the last two tournaments they have played in (Monterey and Rio Hondo) and are currently ranked 12th in the state and seventh in Southern California. Irvine Valley has a record of 11-2 overall.
The win over Long Beach City was a bit of redemption for the Lasers. Irvine Valley's last loss this season came to Long Beach City in its own IVC Classic on Nov. 18.
IVC played a strong first half, struggled to score early in the second half and then pulled away at the end. A three-pointer by freshman guard Kalob Hatcher put Irvine Valley ahead, 38-26, with 3:00 left in the first half.
IVC led, 47-35, at halftime. Long Beach City pulled to within 76-72 with 3:51 to play in the game before IVC created some separation.
Mejia hit a three-pointer, sophomore forward Joe Eberhard scored and Irvine Valley got two defensive stops to take a 81-74 lead with 1:51 to play.
Sophomore forward Travis Fulton led the way in the win with 24 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Fulton was named the Southern California player of the week by jcscores.com after being named the MVP of the Roadrunner Round Up at Rio Hondo last week.
Fulton is averaging 17.1 points and 7.1 rebounds on the season.
Also contributing for IVC in the win over Long Beach City were Hatcher with 19 points, six assists and two steals, sophomore center Ephraim Ekanmen with 13 points and six rebounds and Mejia with 11 points.
Irvine Valley moves on to face Mt. SAC on Friday at 5 p.m. in the semifinals. Mt. SAC is ranked fifth in the state. The Lasers beat the Mounties in the So. Cal. Regional final last year to make the state tournament.