Tustin can't be stopped in Empire League


CYPRESS — It has been nearly two full years since Tustin lost an Empire League game. The dominance is surely not lost on Tillers coach Ringo Bossenmeyer, whose team finished in fifth place when it first came over from the Century League in 2009.

If that feels like a long time ago, Bossenmeyer readily ignored it following Tustin’s 55-40 defeat of Cypress on Wednesday at Cypress High, giving the Tillers their 16th league victory in a row.

“All I'm counting is the four this year,” Bossenmeyer said. “Like the old coach’s cliché goes, you just try to get better every day.”

No. 5 Tustin (17-2, 4-0) did that against Cypress, especially in the final three quarters while allowing just 26 points.

“They’re very good defensively,” Cypress coach Jeff Russell said. “They’re in the right spot every time. They pressure the ball really well, make it tough for you to run your stuff. And they’re physical.”

Cypress (13-5, 2-1) had its chances going into the fourth quarter, trailing by just six after falling behind by double digits in the third quarter.

“I thought defensively we played well,” Russell said “When you hold that team to the 40s, you give yourself an opportunity to be in the ball game. We did a lot of things really well.”

But so did Tustin swingman Nick Hornsby and his defensive crew. The senior scored a layup on the Tillers’ first possession of the fourth. A moment later, he stood on the baseline during a timeout before slyly bouncing the inbounds pass off a Cypress defender and grabbing the carom for an easy layup.

Cypress cut the deficit to single digits a final time, only to see Hornsby, with a defender draped on him, step back and drain a 3-pointer to give the Tillers team a commanding 47-36 lead. He finished with 25 points, nearly accounting for half his team’s final total. 

"It’s not an easy job to stop one of the best players in the county,” Russell said. “He can handle the ball, shoot from the perimeter, he's got good size so you can post him up. He's unique in that way, especially in high school, to be able to do all those things for the size of a post guy.” 

Tustin’s other post player, forward/center Deondre Bryant, had 14 points. Behind Bryant and Hornsby, both about 6-6, Tustin dominated the boards and pestered Cypress guard Jalen Hall in the lane.

Hall had 11 points, his last two field goals coming late in the fourth with the game out of reach. They were also the only Cypress field goals of the quarter.

“You’re just trying to keep him under control,” Bossenmeyer said. “He not only can score for himself but he creates so much for other people. Our goal is we’re not giving you any easy looks on the offensive end.”

It was one of many goals Tustin accomplished Wednesday.

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