East County Sports

Knights’ slow start costly against state No. 1 Chino Hills



By James McHugh

© East County Sports.com


CORONA (12-5-15) — Foothills Christian had one bad quarter Saturday night (Dec. 5), one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad quarter. Facing the No. 1 team in the state of California in the Chino Hills Huskies, the Knights forfeited forty points to open up the Championship game of “The Battle Zone” at Corona Centennial. When all was said and done Foothills Christian had lost for the first time in their 2015-2016 campaign 106-85. The Knights were out-scored 40-13 in the opening quarter.

“Our mistake was we needed to have three ball handlers, NIKKO PARANADA, JAREN NAFARRETE and JORDAN STARR, and we didn’t start the game that way” head coach BRAD LEAF said of the devastating start. The Knights coughed up turnovers and didn’t adapt to the Chino Hills press early enough to salvage the night but Foothills Christian saw some very positive things come out of the eye-opening defeat.

“We came out the exact same way we did yesterday, flat, and we let them take it to us,” assistant coach TROY LEAF said of the team’s start. “Jaren (Nafarrete) came in and changed the complexion of the game. He and Nikko (Paranada) together just dribbled through their press. Jaren just earned himself a lot of minutes and respect,” the younger coach Leaf had to say of the Knight’s guard play.

“Jaren was unbelievable against the Chino press,” the elder Leaf said of his young guard.

Another bright spot for the Knights was the play of sophomore Jordan Starr who scored 16-points to top his career high of 14 set the night prior. Starr and Nafarette are key aspects to the Knights’ puzzle if Foothills wants to compete at an elite level.

“We learned a lot for our match-up in January. It’ll be a different game. In the long run this was good for us, I think,” Leaf said of the final score. Foothills Christian will face the No. 1 ranked Huskies again on January 9th, 2016 at the Sierra Canyon Super Showcase.

Foothills Christian outscored Chino Hills 22-17 in the second quarter and then 24-22 in the third before the teams deadlocked at 27 each in the final frame. That means that the Knights managed to top Chino Hills 73-66 over the final 24 minutes following their dismal start. Though the Knights can’t have a second chance to re-open this one, they will get the unusual opportunity to face the state and national powers in just over month.

TJ LEAF had a tremendous outing for the Knights with 44 points and 16 rebounds. Leaf finished the tournament full of power teams averaging 30.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.8 assist and 3.8 blocks per game.

Foothills Christian:  TJ Leaf 44 (16 reb, 4 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk), Jordan Starr 16 (2 reb, 1 ast), Omajae Smith 8 (4 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl), Luis Salgado 6 (3 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl), Jordan Van Ommering 5 (1 reb, 1 ast), Jaren Nafarrete 5 (6 ast, 3 reb), Nikko Paranada 2 (6 ast, 2 reb).

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