East County Sports

Knights are left short of title goals

Foothills Christian in action on Friday night. / photo by Tammy Ryan - TRYAN PHOTOGRAPHY

Foothills Christian’s DERRICK CARTER-HOLLINGER puts up a shot on Friday night at Viejas Arena. / photo by Don De Mars Photography

2018 EAST COUNTY PREP BOYS BASKETBALL

 

By Ramon Scott

EastCountySports.com

 

SAN DIEGO – The Foothills Christian Knights certainly had some top-notch high school basketball players on the floor Friday night during the San Diego CIF Open Division championship game.

However, the Mission Bay Buccaneers may have just had one high-quality player more.

Third-seeded Mission Bay came of age and ultimately became the top-ranked Knights nemesis, winning the section’s top division title by capturing the rubber match this season between the recent rivals, 52-42, at Viejas Arena.

The Bucs just appeared to have more depth and balanced despite a good defensive effort by the Knights, who came into the showdown with an 18-game winning streak.

“It was a good, hard-fought battle and we welcomed it,” said Mission Bay junior forward Ronald Latting.

Foothills stars YASSINE GHARRAM and DERRICK CARTER-HOLLINGER combined for 32 of the Knights’ points. The duo also combined for 22 rebounds, while Carter-Hollinger added three blocked shots.

But FCHS, which was missing 22 points and more from its lineup following the awkward departure of former student TAESHON CHERRY on Thursday, couldn’t find a third scorer to step up despite trailing by just five entering the fourth quarter.

Foothills’ YASSINE GHARRAM and Mission Bay’s Ronald Latting. / photo by Don De Mars Photography

The Knights’ third-leading scorer on the night, JALAI O’KEITH was actually a pleasant surprise for a team in need of a sudden contribution.

JAREN NAFARRETE had three points and four assists for the Knights.

Foothills Christian made just 30 percent from the field, including 2-of-19 from three-point range. The Knights were o-for-9 from beyond the arc in the first half. Foothills won many of the rebounds off the misses but still came away empty often. The Knights were even strong on the defensive glass.

The Knights, which led 7-6 early on, were o-for-9 from beyond the arc in the first half.

Foothills won many of the rebounds off the misses but still came away empty often. The Knights were even strong on the defensive glass.

An obvious sign that the Knights’ night might not be a winning one may have come at the end of the first half when Mission Bay’s Savaughn Davis sank a buzzer-beater bank shot from a few feet inside the halfcourt-line.

Gharram nearly put the Knights on his back in the third period, but still lacked a final outlet once Mission Bay was able to collapse on his quick drives to the rim. He hit a three to make it 42-35 late in the third quarter.

Mission Bay’s Jamaryee Norton goes up with a shot on Friday in the San Diego CIF Open Division championship game. / photo by Don De Mars Photography

Despite a drought early in the fourth, Foothills couldn’t get its shots to fall, while Davis had a three-pointer and a pair of free throws to put the Bucs up 12 with 1:45 to go in the game.

Mission Bay, which has now won nine-straight games, captured its first section title since 2007.

“That’s what we wanted,” said the Bucs’ Boogie Ellis, who had a team-high 16 points. “It’s not about who starts, it’s about who finishes. Greatest feeling in the world.”

The elite division title culminated a rapid rise for the young Bucs, who were upset as a three-seed in the Division I quarterfinals last season.

Both teams ready for the state playoff seedings announcement and assignments on late Sunday afternoon, as the Knights will have at least a little more time to adapt to a new lineup over a few practices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.