East County Sports

Foothillers fall flat in second half of final against Falcons

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Grossmont’s Hunter Gaines looks for an option Wednesday night against Torrey Pines in the Grossmont Tournament championship game. / EastCountySports.com photo


By Chris Davis
© East County Sports.com
EL CAJON (12-24-15) — In a battle of a pair of top ten teams, one would expect a close game. That is exactly what the fans got when the Torrey Pines Falcons came from behind to nip Grossmont with a 42-41 victory over the Foothillers on Wednesday (Dec. 23).

This game had a couple of storylines.  Two of the top big men in the county, Grossmont’s TOMMY RUTHERFORD vs. Torrey Pines’ Jacob Gilliam, and two top 10 programs facing each other.

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Grossmont’s Jeremiah Appleton dives for a loose ball underneath the Falcons’ basket Wednesday night against Torrey Pines. / Photo by Ramon Scott

As usual when two of the top big men get together in a game, it was the guards that took the spotlight.


Jackson Strong a shooting guard for Torrey Pines (8-1) had a game-high 17 points.  While Rutherford did have a team-high 12 points, it was JEREMIAH APPLETON that helped get the Foothillers out to an early lead, a lead they would hold for most of the game.

Gilliam only managed six points compared to the 12 that Rutherford put in.  However, 10 of Rutherford’s points came in the first half.  In fact, Tommy’s last basket came when the score was at 22-13.

Appleton scored all seven of his points as Grossmont (8-3) jumped out early and staked themselves to a 16-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.  From there Torrey Pines just kept chipping away at the Foothillers lead.

The second quarter saw JACOB NISKEY hit a three-pointer and Rutherford drained three baskets. While that was going on, the Falcons put in 10 points led by Dylan Bona,  who scored half of the team’s total. At the intermission Grossmont led 25-16.

JONAH HEBEL stole the show in the third quarter as he was all over the court.  He only scored five points in the 8-minute quarter for Grossmont, but he also came up with five solid rebounds in the frame as well.  Strong one upped him as he hit for eight points in the quarter. The Falcons won the quarter 12-9 but it was the Foothillers that maintained the 34-28 advantage.

The game came down to the fourth quarter.  In the first few seconds, Cade Kinney sank one of two free throws and Jack Heller hit a three-pointer to pull the Falcons within two points.


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Grossmont’s Marquise Purnell defends against Torrey Pines during the championship game of the Grossmont Tournament Wednesday night at Grossmont High. / Ramon Scott photo

MARQUISE PURNELL was fouled while hitting a layup. After sinking the free throw to complete the three-point play it was 37-32 Foothillers.  The next trip down the floor Heller hit a 10-footer to make it 37-34.  Gilliam fouled Rutherford, who sank both free throws in what would be his final points of the night, to once again give the ‘Hillers a 5- point lead.  The next trip down the floor for Grossmont ended in a Purnell bucket with a jumper for a 41-36 lead with about four minutes left.

Kinney put two points in on a turn-around jumper.  Strong was just that when he went up strong against Rutherford for another pair to make it 41-40 in favor of the Foothillers with 2:45 left. Gilliam made a wonderful hook shot from the middle of the paint with 2:07 remaining in the contest, staking the Falcons to their first lead of the game.

Grossmont had a shot to win at the buzzer but the shot didn’t go down.

Grossmont: Tommy Rutherford 12 (13 reb, 6 blk, 4 ast), Marquise Purnell 7 (4 reb, 2 stl), Jeremiah Appleton 7 (5 reb, 1 stl), Jonah Hebel 5 (5 reb), Matt Murray 4 (1 reb, 1 stl), Jacob Niskey 3, Hunter Gaines 3 (1 reb, 1 stl, 1 ast), Branik Brown (1 ast).

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