The Saddleback men's basketball team completed a successful weekend at Palomar College with a 61-45 win over Southwestern College in the championship game on Sunday evening. The Gauchos used suffocating defense in improving to 9-1 on the season.
Saddleback started the season at 4-0 but was anything but happy with their defensive effort. The Gauchos appear to be vastly improved on that end of the court, which was evident on Sunday. Saddleback stifled a program that entered the game averaging 81 points-per-game in cruising to a 16-point win in the Palomar College Tournament title game. In the past six games Saddleback has surrendered only 57.8 points-per-game, including just 52.6 in the Palomar Tournament over the weekend.
Saddleback showed depth throughout the tournament, which was evident on Saturday when they had six players in double-figures in beating LA Trade Tech in the semifinals. On Sunday, a new star emerged as freshman guard Maleke Haynes was named the Palomar Tournament MVP while sophomore guard Andrew Bournes was also named to the all-tournament team.
Saddleback will get the week off before playing in one of the toughest tournaments of the year at Riverside College next Wednesday. The five-day, 16-team tournament features eight of the top-15 programs in the latest Southern California Coach's Rankings and also the 2014 state champion Santa Rosa Junior College from the northern half of the state. Saddleback will open the tournament on Wednesday against Contra Costa College, another program from the northern half of the state. The Gauchos and Comets are scheduled to tipoff at 1:00 PM.