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December 18, 2018

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Prep Basketball:

Winning Falcons already eyeing league championship

Expanded coverage

Foothill's boys' basketball team still had last season on its mind when it pulled out a 70-63 overtime win Friday at Liberty.

Last year, Foothill was forced to share the Southeast Division championship after finishing with a league record identical to Liberty's.

The Falcons hope Friday's win, which puts them at 3-0 in the league, will help them win the championship outright this year.

"The last time we were in this building we lost and it cost us a No. 1 seed in the playoffs," Foothill coach Kevin Soares said. "We wanted to come in and establish that we are still at the top of this division."

Going into overtime with the score tied at 57, Liberty (8-3, 2-1) seemed to have all the momentum.

The Patriots had erased a six-point deficit from the fourth quarter and scored first in overtime off a jump shot from David Keeling.

Foothill (10-6, 3-0) responded by stacking its lineup with guards and proceeded to go on a 10-0 run.

"Their guards were just breaking us down off the dribble," Liberty coach Pat Welby said. "Foothill plays hard and they like to play fast. You know you're in for a track meet when you play them."

Liberty made only two field goals in overtime and soon resorted to fouls. Foothill guard Evan Roquemore sealed the game with four clutch free-throws in the final minutes.

"We weren't feeding the people who were hitting shots," Liberty guard Joe Foti said. "We have to learn from this. We have to play with more confidence."

The teams proved to be evenly matched as there were six lead changes throughout game.

Liberty held the lead for most of the first quarter, but the momentum started to switch in Foothill's favor by halftime.

Foothill guard Micah Shepard scored 13 points in the second quarter to help give his team a 35-28 lead at the half.

"My teammates call it 'playing unconsciously,'" Shepard said. "I just go out there and play my game. I play like I think I'm at the rec center." Shepard finished with 16 points, while his brother, guard Aaron Shepard, led the team with 18.

The Falcons finished with four players who scored in double figures.

While Foothill spread the ball, most of Liberty's offense revolved around its 6-foot-8 center, Milos Knezevic, who led all scorers with 27 points.

"He's a good player and you just try to contain guys like him," Soares said. "We tried to limit him, it didn't work too well in the first half, but we challenged him more in the second half."

The Falcons eventually adjusted to Knezevic's dominance and held the center scoreless in overtime.

Sean Ammerman can be reached at 990-2661 or [email protected].

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