CALIFORNIA, Mo. — Makygh Galbreath looked like he was going to have a quiet Tuesday night.
Fulton's junior guard, though, made a lot of noise in the late going to seal a victory for the Hornets in their first game of pool play at the 83rd-annual California Tournament.
After Fatima junior guard Sam Groner knocked down a pair of free throws to cut Fulton's lead to 61-55 with 1 minute, 19 seconds remaining, the Comets called a timeout.
On the next possession, Fatima fouled Galbreath — who entered the fourth quarter with just four points — and he converted both free throws to give the Hornets an eight-point edge. Groner brought the ball upcourt on the next possession and threw a pass that was picked off by Galbreath, who raced down and scored on a layup to put Fulton up by 11 points with :55 to go.
The Comets produced another basket to make it 66-57 with :31.4 left and called a timeout, but the Hornets were able to run out the clock to clinch the victory. Fulton (7-2) has now won three in a row and five of its last six.
"We told them in that timeout (at the 1:19 mark) to, 'Keep everything in front of us, don't let them get to the rim and do not foul them,'" Fulton head coach Justin Gilmore said. "Makygh's a grinder, man. He went almost scoreless the whole game and came up super-big for us down the stretch. He just grinds."
The Hornets opened the game in an offensive funk, connecting on just 3-of-13 shots in the first quarter and were down 9-6 at the end of the period.
"We started out the game just shooting a lot of 3s," Gilmore said. "We kept reiterating, 'Let's punch it inside, let's get it inside.'"
To Gilmore's delight, his squad executed that strategy immediately as Fulton opened the second quarter with an 11-0 run — featuring three layups by junior forward Cameron Vaughn — to take a 17-9 edge with 3:48 to play in the first half. The Comets (7-5) missed six shots during that stretch.
"That run started on the defensive end, we made some big stops," Gilmore said. "We got some key rebounds and were able to get some baskets in transition."
Following the run, the Hornets also started to find senior forward Justin Adams in the post. Adams delivered 12 of his game-high 31 points in the quarter, helping Fulton build a 28-19 halftime lead.
"We'll take that every night of the week," Gilmore said. "Our main goal is to score as many points close to the basket as we can. Justin and Cam did a great job tonight and gave us a lot of great opportunities to score."
The Comets outscored the Hornets 19-16 in the third quarter to trim Fulton's advantage to 44-38 heading to the final 8 minutes.
Vaughn tallied 18 points as Fulton shot 52 percent (27-of-52) from the field. Galbreath finished with nine points.
Groner directed Fatima — which shot 42 percent (21-of-50) as a team — with 21 points. Senior guard Steven Brandt came up with 11 points.
The Hornets now move on to a showdown against the Southern Boone Eagles — ranked No. 4 in Class 3 — in their final game of pool play at 9 tonight. Southern Boone defeated Fatima 73-58 in pool play Monday night.
"They're a great team," Gilmore said. "It's going to be a fast-paced, up-and-down game. It should be a fun one."