NEWPORT BEACH – A Beach Bash boys basketball tournament game Wednesday was supposed to be Crean Lutheran vs. JSerra.
It had the makings of a great matchup – Crean Lutheran is No. 3 in the Orange County top 25 and JSerra is No. 6.
A Crean Lutheran player had a positive COVID-19 test result Wednesday, so Crean Lutheran had to withdraw from the tournament. Jason Simco, Corona del Mar coach and tournament director, slid county No. 20 Foothill into Crean’s slot.
The substitute did OK. Foothill defeated JSerra 69-64 at Corona del Mar High.
Foothill senior guard Cruz Billings scored a game-high 24 points including nine points in the fourth quarter. Jacob Horton, another Knights senior guard, scored 17 including a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.
EJ Bryson led JSerra with 16 points, including eight points in the fourth quarter.
Foothill, however, does not advance to Friday’s Beach Bash semifinals, and because of various changes and teams’ needs, including Foothill (8-0) having committed to play against Tustin on Friday, the remainder of the tournament already is scheduled. On Friday, county No. 1 Mater Dei (4-1) plays against No. 14 Tesoro (10-0) at 6 p.m. at Corona del Mar. JSerra (4-1) will play against Etiwanda (8-0) at Corona del Mar on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday’s schedule includes Mater Dei vs. Etiwanda at 8 p.m. at Corona del Mar.
Foothill’s players learned during a lunch-time shoot-around Wednesday that they would play JSerra that evening.
“We’re ready for anything,” Billings said. “We practice hard every day. We prepare ourselves well, so we just came out and played our hardest.”
Foothill coach Yousof Etemadi welcomed the opportunity to play a team from the best league in Southern California high school sports, the Trinity League. Foothill played against, and lost to, Trinity League member Mater Dei last season.
“We want to test ourselves early,” Etemadi said. “It’s good to play a Trinity League team and see where we’re at.”
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Etemadi was confident that the Knights could compete against JSerra.
“These guys are tough,” Etemadi said. “They’re battle-tested and I’ll ride with them to the end.”
JSerra had a 62-60 lead before Horton made his 3 with 2:01 remaining to put Foothill on top. Billings made two free throws with 23 seconds left to push the Knights’ lead to 65-62, and 10 seconds later JSerra’s Josh Ragsdale made two free throws to trim the Lions’ deficit to 65-64.
Horton was clutch at the free-throw line, too, making a pair of foul shots with 11 seconds to go for a 67-64 lead. Billings made two free throws with 4.8 seconds left for the final 69-64 score.
Billings, a 5-foot-8 point guard, scored every way possible, on drives, on pull-up jump shots and he made four 3-pointers. Billings was 6 for 6 at the free-throw line.
“He’s my favorite player on my favorite team,” Etimadi said.
JSerra had a 26-12 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 34-19 lead early in the second quarter. It was 35-35 at halftime. Foothill took a 52-48 lead into the fourth quarter.
Also in the Beach Bash:
No. 1 Mater Dei 66, No. 15 Edison 54: Mater Dei trailed 43-40 in the third quarter before outscoring Edison 26-11 the rest of the way. Zack Davidson led the Monarchs (4-1) with 16 points and nine rebounds. Kaden Minter scored 14 points and Gabriel Quiette added 13 points for Mater Dei.
Etiwanda 47, No. 11 Pacifica Christian 32: The Tritons (3-2) lost to the Eagles (8-0). Etiwanda had leads of 9-0 and 15-2 in the first quarter. Dylan Godfrey paced Pacifica Christian with 13 points. Jimmy Baker’s 16 points led Etiwanda.
Source : https://www.ocregister.com/2021/12/08/foothill-steps-in-and-steps-up-with-win-over-jserra-in-beach-bash-boys-basketball/748