Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 | 2:05 a.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer revisit their positions from last week's podcast after a surprising set of results changes perceptions.
The Foothill High basketball team’s pressure defense was too much for host Green Valley to handle for parts of the second half Wednesday.
The Falcons turned a one-point lead early in the third quarter into a 20-point advantage midway through the fourth primarily because their full-court pressure frequently forced turnovers that led to easy baskets in a 68-51 victory.
Foothill was able to pad its lead late with several points in transition, simply beating tired Green Valley players — Green Valley played an overtime game Tuesday — down the court.
While it’s just the third week of the season and most teams are still experimenting with player combinations and game strategy, Foothill seems to have found success playing in transition and pressuring the basketball. For coach Kevin Soares, that’s a valuable step forward.
“We want to get up the court and see if we can get an easy basket,” Soares said. “If not, we can pull it out and set something up.”
Elijah Smith and Chris Echols did most of the damage early in the fourth quarter for Foothill in combing to score the Falcons’ initial 10 points of the quarter to build a 55-38 lead. Each finished with 10 points and helped keep Green Valley’s backcourt in confusion during the Foothill scoring outburst.
“We saw they broke under pressure, so we had to turn it up,” said Smith, who is the son of UNLV legend, Robert Smith. “Coach told us to turn it up on defense and we listened.”
Foothill’s aggressive pace set the tone early in helping the Falcons build a double-digit lead and never trail. The Falcons were able to get several open looks on the perimeter in the fast break early, including Austin Starr draining a trio of 3-pointers in the game’s opening four minutes to help the Falcons lead 14-2.
“That set the tempo for the whole game,” Smith said.
Starr, son of former UNLV assistant coach, Keith Starr, led all scorers with 20 points including making six 3-pointers. Brannon Cresanto, a four-year varsity starter, had 13 points for the Falcons.
It was a significant improvement from last week when they posted a 1-2 record in the Great Western Shootout in Orem, Utah. In the tournament, they lost 72-38 to one o the nation’s top-ranked teams.
Whether it was a defeat in Utah or victory Wednesday night, Soares is a firm believer the pre-season is about developing his team, and knows there is plenty of basketball left to be played.
“We went to Utah and got our butts kicked. You want to take what you learned up there and put it to work,” he said.