Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, Feb. 10, 2012 | 11 p.m.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer are back to talk basketball with another edition of Prep Sports Now. They wrap up the regular season and preview some of the matchups in next week's first round of the playoffs.
In a league with four equally matched teams fighting for supremacy, the Foothill High basketball squad created separation from the pack Friday in the final eight minutes of the regular season.
The Falcons outscored visiting Silverado 24-8 in the fourth quarter of a 74-53 win to force a four-way first place tie in the Southeast Division. Foothill, Coronado, Green Valley and Silverado each had identical 11-3 records after Friday’s regular season finale.
However, by beating Silverado by more than 15 points, Foothill won the tie-breaker on a point differential to claim the No. 1 seed in next week’s Sunrise Regional playoffs. On Wednesday, the Falcons will host Desert Pines, the No. 4 seed from the Northwest, in the quarterfinals.
If Foothill would have won by 14 or less points, it would have dropped to the No. 3 playoff seed and opened the playoffs on the road.
“It’s always been two (Southeast) teams (fighting for first place) for as long as I’ve been here,” said Foothill coach Kevin Soares, who has been the school’s lone coach since it opened in 1999. “That goes to show you our league is getting better and better.”
Foothill lost to eventual state champion Canyon Springs in last year’s regional semifinals, giving up an offensive rebound and winning shot at the buzzer. Several key performers on this year’s team were part of the heartbreaking end to last year.
“We think about last year, but try to keep it in a positive way,” Soares said. “We don’t want that to happen to us again this year.”
Brannon Cresanto had 22 points and six assists in the win against Silverado. The Falcons pulled away at the free throw line, connecting on 7 of 8 attempts in the fourth quarter. Elijah Smith had eight points (all from the foul line), 11 rebounds and seven assists.
Two of Foothill’s setbacks in league play came against Coronado in overtime. On Jan. 21, the Falcons lost 75-72 after a Coronado player connected on a halfcourt shot at the final buzzer. Last week, Coronado was victorious, 62-61.
The strong fourth quarter against Silverado gives Foothill some much-needed momentum for the playoffs.
“We have to come out with the same intensity and energy we played with tonight,” Soares said.
Like the Southeast race all season, the Sunrise Regional is expected to feature several back-and-forth matchups. Several coaches feel any of the tournament’s eight teams could take home the crown. That’s especially true for Desert Pines, which is led by junior point guard Julian Jacobs — one of the area’s top players.
“(Desert Pines) is going to play fast,” Soares said. “They want to get the ball up and down the court in transition. We’ll have our hands full stopping their fast break.”
Silverado, which would have won the league outright with a victory, falls to the No. 3 seed and will open the region against Northeast No. 2 Canyon Springs.
Valley (21-6 overall, 12-2) is the Northeast Division champion and Wednesday will host Southeast No. 4 Coronado. Coronado, which was in the driver’s seat of the Southeast until faltering this week, was a preseason favorite to win the region. Coronado in early December beat Valley 66-52.
In the other Sunrise quarterfinal, Northeast No. 3 Las Vegas High (18-8, 10-4) travels to Southeast No. 2 Green Valley (14-12, 11-3). Earlier this season, Las Vegas beat Green Valley 81-77.