East County Sports

Knights close out Coastal; Leaf passes Walton on boards

T.J. Leaf dribbles up the floor against Army-Navy Friday night.



By James McHugh

© East CountySports.com


CARLSBAD (2-20-16) – The Army-Navy Academy Warriors pose some interesting matchups for Foothills Christian, the San Diego Section’s No. 1 team. Aziz Seck who is headed to Northern Arizona University in the fall, and Dominican born Richard Polanco are two of the few players in the section that group to form a tandem that can match the wingspan of T.J. LEAF and the rest of Foothills’ height-advantaged lineup.


The Foothills Christian Knights have some more significant advantages than height though, most notably, depth. The Warriors run five players deep. Once the bench is called in to assist, most teams realize that the section’s No. 6 team is a five-man show.


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Nikko Paranada of Foothills Christian handles the ball Friday night against Army-Navy.

Foothills Christian defeated the Warriors for the third time on the season Friday night (Feb. 19) in front of a packed house on the Army-Navy campus, walking away with a 66-47 victory that was not indicative of the lopsided victory.


The Knights’ fifth man JORDAN VAN OMMERING scored each of his 14-points in the first half, most of those coming by way of three, three-pointers on three attempts. Seck and Polanco did walk away with 17 and 12-points respectively on the evening but received little help offensively from the remaining Warriors.


“We just played an all-around good game. It would have been hard for anyone to beat us tonight,” assistant coach TROY LEAF said of the win. “Defensively we were everywhere and the game actually wasn’t as close as the final score shows.”


Troy Leaf also credited Van Ommering with getting things going early for the Knights. “Van Ommering gave us a huge spark in the first half when we needed one and the team never looked back.”


Head Coach BRAD LEAF credited his senior sharpshooter LUIS SALGADO with limiting one of the Warriors two most potent threats on offense. “Luis took Polanco out of the game on the defensive end.”


T.J. LEAF scored eight of his team high 18-points in the third quarter when the Knights embarked on a 20-4 run that blew the game wide open. Leaf has now eclipsed the 700-point mark for the season and his 15 rebounds also moved him past the 300-rebound plateau for the year. More impressively, Leaf’s third rebound of the game moved the senior past Helix alum and NBA great BILL WALTON, into third place on the CIF San Diego Section’s all time rebound list.


With the win the Knights captured their ninth straight outright league title, their second consecutive Coastal League title since joining last season. The Knights secured the No. 1 seed in the Open Division and have not lost a game to a San Diego Section opponent on the year.


Foothills Christian awaits the CIF playoff committee’s decision on Saturday (Feb. 20) afternoon as to who will be graded the eight seed in the Open Division. Grossmont stands at the No. 8 spot as of late Friday night. El Camino had secured that spot until the results of two of their previous opponents dropped their Power Ranking ever so slightly on Friday evening.


Then there is the issue of Poway who currently sits at No. 7 while losing to Rancho Bernardo and Canyon Crest in two of their last three games, as well as finishing third in their league. CIF selections are set to be released at 1:00 pm on Saturday.


Foothills Christian:  T.J. Leaf (15 reb, 6 ast, 4 blk), Jordan Van Ommering 14 (3 reb, 1 ast, 1 blk), Luis Salgado 13 (4 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl), Nikko Paranada 10 (8 ast, 4 reb, 2 stl, 2 blk), Omajae Smith 9 (4 ast, 3 reb), Kale Baldado 2, Jordan Starr (4 reb, 3 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk).

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