The Foothill Dragons had their work cut out for them on Wednesday night’s home game against the Thacher Toads. The Dragons would need to upset the Toads, who beat the Dragons by 17 points in their last face off, in order to secure a tie for first place in the Frontier League. Needless to say, the weight of this game was felt all through the gym.
However, the Dragons showed they would be unaffected by the pressure of a competition like this throughout the game. By playing as a team, they defeated the Toads 71-31 and obtained their first league title in the history of the program.
The Dragons struck first, winning the jump ball and scoring a breakaway layup. They continued to battle throughout the first quarter, matching the Toads basket for basket.
Trey Gant ‘18 thinks this style of play contributed to their win.
“Most games we don’t do very well in the first half and we come back, but this game we immediately came out and played our hardest,” he said.
Both teams fought to establish authority throughout the first quarter, but this changed when Jack Vielbig ‘19 came off the bench and made a three pointer with 20 seconds left in the first quarter.
He went on to score four more three pointers, as well as a breakaway layup, in the second quarter. With help from teammates Colin Vallance ‘18, who scored
five points, Nathan Bova ‘19, who scored three points, Daniel Holst ‘17 and Dale Starr ‘17, who each had one layup, Vielbig led the team in a commanding second quarter.
Cameron Strain ‘18 contributed two points in the second quarter, but his most influential play came when he stole the ball with only 10 seconds remaining in the half. This steal lead to a buzzer beater layup by Gant. The layup gave the Dragons a lofty 24 point lead and a boost of momentum heading into the second half.
Assistant Coach Anthony Unchangco believes that the Dragons’ ability to play cohesively was a big factor in the game.
“This was one of our best total team efforts,” Unchangco said. “Every single individual really played as an entire group.”
Just as Unchangco recalled, it was as a group that the Dragons expanded their lead in the third quarter. Strain was the first to score in the third quarter, but the ball moved well and each Dragon had scoring opportunities.
The Dragon defense kept the Toads scoreless for the first four and a half minutes, sending the message that they would not allow any kind of a comeback in the second half.
“Our defense was amazing,” said Holst, who thinks their strong defense helped ensure their win. Both defensively and offensively, he believes “it’s probably the best game we’ve played the whole year.”
The dagger came when Vielbig beat the buzzer with a three point shot from downtown. The Dragons led 68-28 at the end of the third quarter, and kept their lead for the rest of the game.
Each team scored three points in the fourth quarter, and each team walked away calling themselves league champions.
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With the win, the Dragons are ensured a home game in prelims of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Division six playoffs.
“I think it’s a good win,” said Holst. He thinks “it will give us a good vibe” as the Dragons embark on their CIF voyage.
Unchangco agrees with Holst that “it was a good end to league.” He thinks his team “really needed that win,” and that it will help them because “going into CIF we finish on a super high note.”
Starr thinks this game will influence the team’s momentum “very heavily” as they continue.
“We put all of our effort into it,” he said, and “I’m sure it will impact us greatly.”