East County Sports

Rutherford’s returns pay off big for Hillers

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Grossmont’s Dayveion Crawford (12) tries to get set against a La Salle player on Wednesday in the CIF regional playoffs.

SoCal Regional CIF Playoffs


By Bill Dickens
© East County Sports.com

PASADENA (3-10-16) — It’s arguable whether the return of 6-foot-9 Grossmont senior pivot TOMMY RUTHERFORD was the key ingredient to Grossmont High’s 58-53 State Playoff victory over La Salle of Pasadena.

Rutherford, who was sidelined with an ankle injury for two weeks, was eager to make a fast start but was hindered with three personal fouls in the first quarter.

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Grossmont’s Tommy Rutherford goes for the ball against La Salle on Wednesday night in a state regional playoff game.

“La Salle had three guys on him, grabbing and slapping him around,” said Grossmont coach FRANK FOGGIANO. “So he missed all but two minutes of the first and all of the second period.”

Grossmont trailed by 7 points by halftime.

Rutherford came to life in the third quarter and took command of the game in the second half. Grossmont trailed 41-39 entering the fourth quarter and it wasn’t long before the Foothillers were in the lead.

A bucket by the Lancers’ Oyie Little gave La Salle a 53-52 lead with 1:50 remaining.

Grossmont countered with a major dunk by Rutherford to put the Foothillers back in front.

La Salle had a chance to answer but came up empty.

A banker by HUNTER GAINES and three free throws by Rutherford sealed the deal.

“It’s obvious having Tommy back in the lineup helped us,” said Foggiano. “Not just because of his size but because of his ability to break a 1-2-2 press. It’s something we couldn’t do without him.

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Grossmont’s Matt Murray (left) defends against La Salle on Wednesday night.

Grossmont, which usually plays a man-to-man defense, remained in a zone against La Salle.

“That’s not our style,” said Foggiano. “But we  forced their offense to change. I’m sure their scouting reports were looking for us to play man-to-man, but I didn’t want to risk Tommy’s ankle for that.”

Despite his foul problems Rutherford finished with 20 points, 21 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals.

Not to be overlooked was the hard-nosed play of MATT MURRAY, who landed 15 points, wrestled 8 rebounds, dished 2 assists and swiped 2 passes.

Grossmont will continue its state voyage on the road against Gardena Serra on Saturday (Mar. 12) at 6 p.m.

Grossmont:  Tommy Rutherford 20 (21 reb, 4 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk), Matt Murray 15 (8 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl), Jacob Niskey 9 (4 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl), Hunter Gaines 8 (3 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl), Hunter Mulder 2, Dayveion Crawford 4 (2 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl).

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