East County Sports

Knights gain UA semifinal by slamming spiteful Saints



By James McHugh
© East County Sports.com
DEL MAR (12-29-15) – Foothills Christian is headed to the semi-finals of the Under Armour Holiday Classic at Torrey Pines High School after the Knights blasted Saint Augustine 85-63 before a standing room only crowd Monday night (Dec. 28).

The Knights blew the contest open in the second quarter, outscoring Saint Augustine 28-5 and turning what was a one point game into a rout and a statement. The Knights and Saints came into the game ranked #1 and #2 in the San Diego Section respectively and Foothills Christian left little room for doubt about the difference between the two.


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Leaf dunks Monday against St. Augustine

“Monroe (Eric Monroe) hit some shots early that kept them right there, but the press in the second quarter broke them to where they were either turning it over or taking quick forced shots,” assistant coach TROY LEAF said of the Knights’ dominant second frame.

T.J. LEAF scored 10 of his game high 27-points in the second quarter and NIKKO PARANADA hit two of three long rang shots along with a couple of free throws as well. Paranada ended the night with 15 points, once again playing floor general for the Knights.

Foothills got a superb performance as well from senior OMAJAE SMITH, who knocked down 7-10 from the field for 21 points on the night, including 3-3 from three-point land.

Other members of the Knights’ arsenal played big roles in different areas as the packed house at Torrey Pines got to see a Foothills Christian team clicking on all cylinders.


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Omajae Smith drives to the basket Monday.

JORDAN VAN OMMERING grabbed three rebounds and dished two assists in significant time for the Knights while senior LUIS SALGADO had 11 caroms on the night to go along with nine points, five assists and four steals.

“Our guys had a bigger goal than winning a quarterfinal game. It was a big win but they are focused on the whole tournament rather than just one game,” Troy Leaf said after the win for Foothills. Leaf was confident that the Knights had had one of their better performances of the season. “We have a group of seniors who have all played together for years now and they finally all put together a game where they all had the right passion and aggression on the same night, and we’ll be hard to beat if that continues,” Leaf commented on the team’s performance against previously unbeaten Saint Augustine.

Foothills Christian displayed the type of game that has them nationally ranked headed into the semi-finals of the Under Armour Classic where they will meet Corona Centennial for the second time this season. The Huskies are without UCLA commit Ike Anigbogu who is out of the country attending to family matters.


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Nikko Paranada drives to the hoop Monday night against Saints.

Foothills Christian and Corona Centennial play tomorrow night (Dec. 29) at 7:30 at Torrey Pines High School. In the other National Division semi-final, Army-Navy Academy will take on Fairfax at 4:30.

Foothills Christian:  T.J. Leaf 27 (7 reb, 5 ast, 2 blk), Omajae Smith 21 (4 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl), Nikko Paranada 15 (3 ast, 2 reb, 2 stl), Luis Salgado 9 (11 reb, 5 ast, 4 stl), Jordan Starr 6 (3 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl), Jordan Van Ommering 4 (3 reb, 2 ast, 2 blk, 1 stl), T.J. Lowery 3 (1 reb, 1 blk), Kale Baldado (1 reb, 1 ast).

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