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December 17, 2014

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high school basketball:

Third-quarter outburst shows Foothill basketball the real deal

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Foothill basketball players, from left, Jalen Shepard and Austin Starr Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013.

Prep Sports Now

Gorman wins; Vegas gears up for big game

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Taylor Bern discuss Bishop Gorman's victory against Centennial and go through the big games coming up this week.

The Foothill High basketball team will be hard to eliminate in the Sunrise Regional tournament in two weeks.

Even when the Falcons don’t play their best, they still win. And win in convincing fashion.

Foothill overcame a shaky first half Thursday against host Basic, struggling with the Wolves’ full-court press and hostile crowd in falling behind by eight points at halftime.

Then came the third quarter. Game over.

Foothill outscored Basic 33-7, easily beating the press for uncontested points and draining a few 3-pointers on the way to an 84-63 victory.

Foothill remained undefeated in Southeast League play, clinching its ninth straight league championship and a No. 1 seed for the playoffs. The Sunrise tournament begins Feb. 18.

“We woke up and decided to play basketball,” Foothill coach Kevin Soares said. “We didn’t play Foothill basketball in the first half. Second half we did.”

Foothill scored eight quick points in the initial minute of the third quarter to even the score at 33. Soon, Foothill was scoring at a rapid pace, launching the ball up the court in transition for easy baskets.

When the dust settled at the end of the quarter, Foothill held a comfortable 58-40 advantage.

Austin Starr, the Falcons leading scorer, had a pair of 3-point plays in the scoring outburst. He also had five assists in the quarter, acting like a quarterback in throwing the ball the length of the court to streaking teammates toward the basket.

“They know how to play with each other. A lot of those deep passes were just eye contact,” Soares said.

Torrance Littles scored three easy baskets in transition, and shooting guard David Persi drilled consecutive 3-pointers to give Foothill a double-digit lead for good.

“It shows us we have confidence. We won’t fold and crumble (when trailing),” Persi said. “It was good to see.”

The third-quarter explosion was nothing out of the ordinary.

Foothill moved to 8-0 in Southeast games, winning seven times by more than 20 points. And it’s not just overmatched league games they are dominating.

The Falcons lost by just two points Jan. 11 to state favorite Bishop Gorman, piecing together a scoring run in the fourth quarter similar to Thursday against Basic. Foothill didn’t flinch against two-time defending state champion Gorman, outscoring the powerhouse 25-10 in the fourth quarter.

Soares is one of the few public-school coaches willing to put Gorman on his schedule. Foothill also plays nationally ranked Findlay Prep — the Henderson-based prep school — each season, being challenged late in the year in preparation for the playoffs. They play today against Findlay at Coronado.

“We schedule Findlay because we want to bring up our intensity,” Soares said. “Our guys will be pumped. They will be excited. It will help us during the home stretch (of the season).”

Starr led all scorers against Basic with 26 points, Littles had 14 points, Persi scored 13 and Jalen Shepard had 11. Josh Villaros had 24 points for Basic.

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

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