Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 | 9:29 p.m.
At the end of Friday’s practice, Coronado High basketball coach Jeff Kaufman pulled aside point guard Nick Davis and reminded him of last season’s Sunrise Regional championship game.
“I need you to do the same thing,” Kaufman said he told Davis. “Last year against Eldorado he stepped up his game and hit three or four big 3s.”
So, with Coronado trailing Foothill tonight by 13 points at halftime in the Sunrise finals, it was Davis who again changed the Cougars’ fortunes. He drained a pair of 3-pointers early in the third quarter to help them quickly erase the deficit and eventually prevail 56-47 for their second straight Sunrise championship and a spot in next week’s 4A state tournament.
Coronado has been led most of the season by Kennedy Koehler, the Sunrise’s lone player signed with a Division I college, and big man Will Weems, who is arguably the region’s best player. And Davis’ backcourt mate, shooting guard Trey Hurlburt, was a first-team all-Region selection.
“We are family, as long as my bigs and my shooter get to eat, then I’m doing my job” Davis said. “I am there to get the ball to them and make plays for them.”
But with the season on the line, it was Davis’ big baskets that helped ignite the comeback.
“Nick is one of those kids — first of all he is brilliant,” Kaufman said. “Nick is a tireless worker; always positive and always a team guy.”
After struggling through one of their worst stretches of play in the first half, Coronado’s players didn’t panic at halftime. Nor did coaches yell. The proceeded to open the third quarter on a 15-4 scoring run to firmly take the game’s momentum.
Weems, who finished with a game-high 19 points, scored eight straight from the end of the third quarter to beginning of the fourth to give Coronado the lead for good. And defensively, Coronado limited Foothill to just 14 second-half points.
“You have to give our kids credit. They stayed calm,” Kaufman said.
The postgame celebration was different this season.
When the players gathered in the locker room, the focus immediately turned to next week’s state tournament. Last season, they were happy to be the first team in the school’s nearly 15-year history to qualify for the event. This year, they want to win it.
“We aren’t done yet,” Kaufman told the players, who started to cheer.
The experience of last year, including trailing by 19 points after the first quarter of the state championship game to five-time defending champion Bishop Gorman, could give the Cougars an edge. They played five seniors for all of the second half against Foothill, four of which played in last year’s state tournament.
“This year we are going in with the mentality that we have a shot to win the whole thing,” Koehler said.
Foothill’s season still isn’t finished. It plays Clark on Tuesday in the play-in game for the final spot in the four-team state tournament at Cox Pavilion.
Marvin Coleman led Foothill with 14 points and Jeron Bodin had 12.