East County Sports

Wolf Pack keep share of title alive by toppling Hillers



By Bill Dickens

© East County Sports.com


EL CAJON (2-17-16) — The Grossmont Foothillers figured to celebrate the Grossmont Hills League championship with a victory on Tuesday (Feb. 16).


However, the Foothillers’ post-game bubbly went flat when visiting West Hills blew into town and came away with a 61-56 victory.


The Hillers (21-4, 6-1 GHL) are clinging to a one game lead over the Wolf Pack (21-5, 5-2 GHL) going into Friday night’s (Feb. 19) regular season contests.


Perhaps this situation would not have presented itself if not for the Foothillers’ 6-foot-9 pivot, TOMMY RUTHERFORD, suffering an ankle sprain in Monday’s (Feb. 15) practice. He watched Tuesday’s encounter from the bench, missing the first game of his four-year high school career.


“It was pretty frustrating, since I’ve never been in this position before,” said Rutherford who averages 25 points and 19 rebounds per session. He scored 41 points and gathered 19 rebounds in the first round encounter captured by Grossmont 61-58.


The Foothillers could have pulled an El Foldo but did not, as the supporting unit proved that this is not a one man team.


Senior MATT MURRAY pounded out a double-double of 23 points and 12 rebounds to keep the Foothillers upset-close. He hit 7 of 11 field goals and 9 of 10 free throws.


Grossmont, which trailed most of the night, fell behind 51-39 in the final period, but eventually shaved the deficit to 57-54 on a bucket by Murray.


West Hills fought back as CAMERON BARRY hit 2 free throws with 24 seconds remaining.


Even after that, BRANIK BROWN dropped in a bucket for the Hillers, paring the deficit to 59-56 with 3 seconds to play.


BRYCE PARSONS put the game away for the Wolf Pack, hitting 3 free throws down the stretch in the final seconds. He finished with a game high 17 points for West Hills including 7 of 8 free throws, and completed a double-double with 11 rebounds.


“Even without Tommy (Rutherford), they were able to stay with us all the way,” Parsons said. “We want to get as high as we can in the Division II tournament, and we hope to get the No. 2 seed.”


Parsons said he wasn’t sure but he thought the 20 wins was a school record for West Hills.


“Coach (JEFF) ARMSTRONG said we’re on track for a record for wins in a season,” Parsons noted.


West Hills zoomed out to a 12-4 advantage in the first quarter and held an 18-17 advantage midway through the second quarter, keeping pace against the short-handed Foothillers.


“Playing without Tommy obviously they’re a different team,” said Barry. “But I thought we adjusted extremely well because the rest of their team is pretty stable. I thought we won the game because we played solid defense.”


Ten members of the Pack contributed to this crucial victory over the Hillers.


KYLE RUIZ scored 11 points, while MARQUELL COOL added 10 for the Pack.


For Grossmont HUNTER GAINES pitched in 11 points.


West Hills: Bryce Parsons 17 (11 reb, 1 stl), Kyle Ruiz 11 (7 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl), Marquell Cool 10 (6 reb, 1 ast, 3 stl), Cameron Barry 6 (1 reb, 5 ast, 6 stl), Marco Ovies 4 (2 ast, 1 stl), Cesar Curet 4 (1 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl), Spencer Moyer 3 (4 reb, 3 stl), D’Ante Hill 2 (1 stl), Nathan Ball 2, Chris Moyer 2 (2 reb).


Grossmont:  Matt Murray 23 (12 reb, 2 ast, 2 blk), Hunter Gaines 11 (4 reb), Jacob Niskey 7 (1 reb, 1 stl), Branik Brown 5 (1 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl), Jonah Hebel 4 (4 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl), Dayveion Crawford 4 (4 reb, 1 ast, 2 stl), Alex Lilliard 2 (1 reb), Hunter Mulder 2, Ryan Shirley (2 reb, 1 ast).

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