Jace Roquemore had witnessed plenty of late-game victories from the Foothill High basketball team during his childhood. On Wednesday night in the Sunrise Regional quarterfinals, the freshman guard was finally involved in the action.
His older brother, Evan, played for the Falcons before heading to Santa Clara, and his family is heavily involved in the program. He grew up in the Falcons’ gym, whether it was attending camps or watching his siblings play.
Roquemore helped Foothill overcome a 10-point fourth quarter deficit against host Liberty in a 67-61 victory, giving the Falcons a postseason win that seemed improbable — not only today, but last month.
Foothill, typically one of the region’s best teams, opened Southeast League play with four straight defeats. But ...
“We just got tired of losing,” said Kevin Soares, the program’s lone coach since the school opened in 1999. “That is the bottom line. At some point in time, if you are a competitor, you get tired of losing. We just had to correct some mistakes.”
Roquemore isn’t the only underclassman in a key role for the Falcons, who have just two seniors. With the youth and inexperience came poor play, especially early in the season.
“I am freshman on varsity in my first playoff game, but it didn’t bother me. I kept my cool,” said Roquemore, a 6-foot-3 guard who finished with nine points and played with the confidence of someone much older.
Foothill only scored six points in the second quarter and trailed 26-21 at halftime. Cameron Burist, who scored a game-high 17 points for Liberty, took over briefly in the second half with 11 of Liberty’s 15 points in a rally to take a double-digit advantage.
Just when it appeared Liberty, the Northeast League champions, would advance, the veteran Soares made a slight adjustment.
“We sped the pace of the game up,” Soares said. “We were kind of walking the ball up the court and not putting pressure on defense on them. Once we sped up the pace, we got some open looks and knocked them down.
Foothill wound up outscoring Liberty by 12 points in the final eight minutes, advancing to face Eldorado in Thursday’s semifinals.
Mauricio Smith was a force on the inside with 16 points and Marvin Coleman, a valuable sophomore who missed more than a month earlier in the season, had 11. Jonny Rolle, one of the seniors, buried a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter to ignite the rally.
“We learned how to compete,” Roquemore said. “At the beginning of the year, we were playing not to lose, not to win. Toward the end of the season we are playing to win, not lose. That is our mentality.”
Faith Lutheran rolls in opener
Faith Lutheran is hoping to crash the party.
The past four seasons it’s been Clark and Desert Pines as the Southern Region representatives in the Division I-A state basketball tournament. Faith Lutheran will get its opportunity to break that tradition.
Zach Friel had a game-high 18 points for Faith Lutheran in a 56-38 opening round playoff victory against Virgin Valley, helping the Crusaders advance to face Desert Pines in Thursday’s regional semifinals. The winner advances to the state tournament.
Blake Bell was solid for the Crusaders against Virgin Valley with nine points and Gary Tharaldson had eight.
Silverado goes from 1-win season to grabbing spot in regional semifinals
Only one year after finishing with a 1-23 record, the Silverado Skyhawks are in high school basketball’s Sunrise Regional semifinals.
The Skyhawks beat visiting Green Valley 65-47 tonight in the opening round of the playoffs. Senior Matthew Arnold led the way with 18 points, and Kris Coe pitched in 16 points to help Silverado advance to play Coronado at 4:40 Thursday at Liberty High in the semifinals.
Coronado beat Silverado 64-39 in the season opener, but both teams are very different from the first time they met.
“It is a night and day difference,” Silverado coach Shelby Jones said. “They are hard to play against because they do so many things well, but that first game we could not make a shot and it just got out of hand. I feel like we are better now, especially at shooting the ball.”
Desert Pines handles Sierra Vista, 78-36
Greg Floyd had 22 points and five rebounds for top-seeded Desert Pines today in a 78-36 victory against visiting Sierra Vista in the first round of the Division I-A Southern League tournament.
Trevon Abdullah had 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Capri Uzan had 14 points and seven assists.
“He was a man child,” coach Mike Uzan said of Abdullah.
Desert Pines, the 2013 state champions, advances to play Faith Lutheran in the semifinals. The winner qualifies to the state tournament.
After coming short the past two seasons at state, Uzan booked scheduled out-of-state games to better prepare his team for the playoffs. Its Sunrise League, you see, doesn’t provide much of a challenge.
But the out-of-state games, contests against three teams Uzan said were ranked nationally, have made the Jaguars tougher.
“The kids are really playing hard for each other. They have bought in,” Uzan said.
Ray Brewer and Case Keefer commence postseason festivities by glancing at all three regional tournament brackets.
Coronado fights of Las Vegas, pushes into semifinals
Top-seeded Coronado beat Las Vegas 84-70 in the Sunrise Regional quarterfinals, but the game was competitive into the second half before the Cougars — and their star player — pulled away.
Jake DesJardins had a triple-double of 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, helping Coronado beat the Las Vegas full-court press and finally gain a double-digit advantage.
“Everyone starts 0-0 in the playoffs and Vegas came to play. They had a ton of energy,” Coronado coach Jeff Kaufman said. “But DesJardins carried everyone.”
Kennedy Koehler was equally effective for Coronado with 23 points and 14 rebounds, junior guard Trey Hurlburt had 10 points and Bryce Savoy added nine points and five assists.
Coronado at 4:40 p.m. Thursday plays Silverado in the Sunrise semifinals at Liberty.
Durango wins low-scoring affair with Arbor View
At halftime, the Durango High basketball team trailed visiting Arbor View by one point today in the Sunset Regional quarterfinals. The score was ugly — 18-17.
But Durango played much better in the second half, eventually doing what was expected from the higher-seeded team in a 45-32 victory.
“Both teams gave a good defensive effort,” Durango coach DeShawn Henry said. “At this time of the season you want to survive and live to play another day.”
That’s what the Trailblazers will do, taking on Centennial at 8 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals. It’s a battle of two of the city’s top five teams.
“I don’t know if yo can slow them down,” Henry said of Centennial. “They are a really good team and have a lot of talent. You just have to hold on and weather the storm.”
Jason Landman led Durango with 13 points and Chase Ruiz had 12.
Champs storm into next round
Clark began the defense of its Division I-A state championship in style tonight, blowing out visiting Del Sol 64-35 in its first-round matchup.
As a relatively young team in their first playoff game, the Chargers leaned heavily on their two seniors Keyshaun Webb and Darius Jackson.
Webb scored 17 points and Jackson finished with 15 to lead Clark into Thursday’s Southern Region semifinals against Chaparral.
“They are really important for us,” Clark coach Chad Beeten said. “They don’t always have to lead us in scoring, and I think they understand that. The most important thing is they are great leaders for our team because we are so young.”
Del Sol was led by senior Bo Beagle who finished with 13 points — the only Dragon to reach double figures.
The semifinal round will be the first meeting of the season between Chaparral and Clark.
“We don’t know a ton about them,” Beeten said. “We are going to get ready to watch some film tonight and make sure we are prepared tomorrow. With so little preparation time for both teams, it will be about who wants it more.”
Chap overcomes halftime deficit, beats Cheyenne
Senior guard Marc Silas scored 19 points to lead Chaparral to its 70-63 win over Cheyenne in the Division I-A Southern Region playoffs.
The Cowboys overcame a 4-point halftime deficit to move into the regional semifinals.
“In the second half we guarded against the three better,” Chaparral coach Steve Bentz said. “Richard Nelson did a good job on their best player (William Moore).”
Moore and Alahjan Banks each scored 15 points for Cheyenne.
Bentz knows his team will have its hands full in the next round against Clark, the two-time defending state champions.
“We are excited for the opportunity,” Bentz said. “To reach the goals we set at the beginning of the year we knew we would have to beat the best teams, and they are one of them.”
Desert Oasis grabs historic win
Desert Oasis won its first home playoff game in the school’s eight-year history in impressive fashion tonight, disposing of Legacy 87-65.
It is only the Diamondbacks’ second playoff win — they beat Cheyenne in 2010 when coach Ryan Fretz was an assistant.
Desert Oasis stormed out of the gates, leading Legacy 28-13 after one quarter behind three 3-pointers by Taiga Miyano.
“We needed to jump on them early and we did,” Fretz said. “That was the game plan from the very beginning.”
The Diamondbacks had five players score double digits, led by Aamondae Coleman with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Andrue Aguilera pitched in 15 points in the win.
Next up for Desert Oasis is a Sunset Regional semifinal showdown with four-time defending state champion Bishop Gorman Thursday night. The Gaels beat the Diamondbacks 98-73 back on Dec. 3.
“We scheduled them for the second game of the season and we got our butts kicked,” Fretz said. “We knew that if we wanted to go anywhere and accomplish our goals that we would have to go through Gorman.”
Centennial's defense again solid
One of the goals of the Centennial High basketball team each game is to hold the opposition to less than 50 points.
They’ve accomplished that in six of the last seven games, including today in a 68-48 victory against visiting Shadow Ridge in the Sunset Regional quarterfinals.
“We feel like we have been playing well defensively. The kids are doing a good job,” Centennial coach Todd Allen said.
Troy Brown Jr. had 26 points and Jake Hutchings scored 18 to lead the Bulldogs, who advance to Thursday’s semifinal round against Durango. It should be the most competitive regional semifinals on each side of town.
“We are going to have to defend the 3 and out-rebound them. That’s a good rebounding team,” Allen said.
And, of course, Centennial will need to play good defense. That hasn’t been a problem of late. In the one game the Bulldogs surrendered more than 50 points, it was 78-52 win against Desert Oasis for the league championship
Gorman cruises in opener
Gorman took the first step to a fifth straight state championship, easily beating visiting Cimarron-Memorial, 73-38.
Gonzaga commit Zach Collins recorded a triple-double of 12 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocked shots in 20 minutes, and Chuck O’Bannon Jr. had 20 points. Christian Popoola added 12 points and six assists.
“It’s been a long season. We have done a lot of traveling and played a lot of good teams,” Gorman coach Grant Rice said. “The kids are battled tested and excited for the playoffs.”
Gorman plays Desert Oasis at 4:40 p.m. Thursday in the Sunset semifinals at Arbor View.
“It’s going to be a tough couple of days,” Rice said.
High school basketball playoffs start tonight
Can anyone dethrone the Bishop Gorman Gaels? What about the Clark Chargers?
We’ll find out starting tonight.
The high school basketball playoffs open with eight quarterfinal games in the Division I, and four first-round games in the Division I-A Southern Regional.
Gorman, the four-time defending Division I state champion, hosts Cimarron-Memorial in its opener. Clark, the two-time defending Division I-A champ, takes on Del Sol. Both should win convincingly — but only tonight.
Gorman may have a McDonald’s All-American in center Zach Collins and one of the nation’s top 2017 recruits in wing Chuck O’Bannon Jr., but they still have been challenged this season. Gorman last week trailed Durango at halftime before pulling out a 10-point win, and earlier in the season, it trailed Shadow Ridge by one point at the half and won by just six.
The Gaels' toughest challenge could come Friday in the Sunset Region championship game. Some feel Centennial, led by elite junior Troy Brown Jr., could end the Gaels’ reign.
But Centennial first has to reach the championship game. Last season, it was upset in the semifinals by Palo Verde, and this year’s semifinal should come against Durango — a team, as shown by its effort last week against Gorman, is more than capable.
In the Division I-A, Clark and Desert Pines are the favorites to reach Saturday’s regional championship game, which would also earn them a spot in Reno at next week’s state tournament. But the Division I-A bracket is balanced with teams such as Faith Lutheran and Chaparral, who have given the powers challenges already this season, eager to pull off the upset.
We’ll keep you posted tonight, and throughout the duration of the playoffs, as scores become final. Send us game updates and photos on Twitter using #sunstandout or #702hshoops.