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November 25, 2014

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high school basketball:

This local basketball power wins share of eighth-straight league title

Prep Sports Now

Making sense of the mess made by last week's upsets

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer discuss Durango's rise, Arbor View's fall and Centennial's near-miss against Gorman. Note: We apologize for Brewer's mic levels. Turn up the volume and you should be able to hear him fine. We will have the problem corrected for next week.

Quick, name the best dynasty in Nevada high school sports?

Programs at schools such as Bishop Gorman, Palo Verde or Centennial surely first come to mind for most Las Vegas-area prep sports followers. Well, think again.

The Foothill High basketball team definitely needs to be in the conversation.

The host Falcons beat Henderson rival Basic 75-57 Thursday night to remain undefeated in Southeast League play and clinch a share of their eighth-straight Southeast championship.

The game was essentially over after the first quarter when Foothill raced out to a 22-6 lead, including Taylor Montgomery, arguably the state’s top golfer and a UNLV signee, drilling a 3-pointer from the corner at the first-quarter buzzer.

Montgomery, however, isn’t the Falcons’ most valuable player. But finding someone to give that distinction to isn’t easy.

That’s what makes Foothill so dangerous each season. When other teams rely on one or two star players, Falcons’ coach Kevin Soares is hard-pressed when asked to name his top performer.

Rather, he insists, it’s a team effort that’s gotten them this far.

“There is a lot of stuff we do people don’t see with our offseason work,” Soares said. “We have been fortunate enough to have good enough kids as far as their loyalty showing up.”

That team effort was obvious against Basic, especially in the middle quarters when the Foothill lead ballooned to more than 30 points.

Junior guard Austin Starr made just one 3-pointer and finished with 11 points against Basic, but frequently leads the Falcons’ offense and is arguably the best outside shooter in the Sunrise Region. Senior guard Elijah Smith had a game-high 15 points and appeared to be the best player on the court. Post player Chris Echols was fearless on the inside; he had three blocks on one Basic possession.

Then, there is junior guard Matt Rapp.

Rapp, who entered averaging about five points per game, finished with 14 points in making the most of playing regular minutes. Foothill is thin at its guard rotation with Jalen Shepard and Brannon Cresanto out with injury.

“We played the game our way," Rapp said. “We let the game come to us instead of forcing things.”

Duplicating the effort the next two games might be easier said than done.

Foothill (18-4 overall, 7-0 Southeast), which has just one defeat against a local opponent, falling to Las Vegas High earlier in the season, plays two nationally ranked teams in the following days in nonleague play. Friday, they host top-ranked Findlay Prep, the Henderson-based national powerhouse. Saturday, they take on White Station High of Memphis, Tenn., in a one-day event at Coronado.

Scheduling the difficult out-of-league games this late in the season — the playoffs start in two weeks — was an easy decision for Soares.

“We want to play Findlay and this White Station because it will help us increase our intensity throughout the game,” he said. “It will be good for us because you have to come and play hard against those guys.”

Basic, whose 27 fourth-quarter points were three less than the previous three quarters combined, was led by Antraye Johnson’s 14 points and Isaiah Villaros’ 12 points.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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