Wednesday night’s boys’ basketball game between the Dragons and the Pilgrim Patriots was atypical in more ways than one. Not only was it the first CIF game in the history of the boys’ basketball program, but it was held in Ventura High School’s Tuttle Gym and delayed nearly half an hour due to the late arrival of the Pilgrim Patriots.
The game ended in Foothill’s favor, with a score of 68-35, and propelled them into the second round of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) playoffs for Division VI.
Many players felt nervous before the game, but once starters Daniel Holst ‘17, Tyler Ragan-Sutton ‘17, Dale Starr ‘17, Cameron Strain ‘18 and Colin Vallance ‘18 stepped onto the court, “it was all confidence from there.”
The Dragons won the opening tip, but failed to convert in their first possession. This didn’t seem to rattle the team’s morale, however, as the Dragons stole the ball shortly thereafter, which led to an offensive rebound and putback by Strain.
This marked the start of a dominant first quarter for the Dragons, who scored, got steals and forced turnovers again and again. Strain, “coming back from an off season,” had seven points in the first quarter and led the team to their 16-0 shutout in the first eight minutes.
Ragan-Sutton attributes the success of the first quarter to the team’s defensive work.
“Our defense was amazing,” he said. “That’s the one thing that we focused on” in the first quarter.
The Dragons continued their wrath in the second quarter, allowing the Patriots to gain only six points. They maintained their healthy lead, with Jack Vielbig ‘19 to thank. For Vielbig, good things tend to come in threes, and the second quarter was no exception, as he made three consecutive shots from beyond the arc within one minute.
The Patriots scored for the first time halfway through the second quarter, but Nathan Bova ‘19 answered with a short range putback, not allowing any momentum to build on the Patriot’s side.
The Dragons entered halftime leading 29-6, knowing that they “played really well in the first half.”
According to Head Coach Dean Prophet, the advancements made in the first half came from taking care of the ball and rebounding, which he thought “we did a good job of in the first half, but not as good the second half.”
The Dragons did seem to relax a bit in their defense, allowing three times as many points in the third quarter as they did in the entire first half, but they still managed to outscore the Patriots and increase their lead.
Vallance scored a layup in the first ten seconds of the half to kick off what would be a high scoring quarter for the Dragons.
Holst lead the team in their offensive efforts, scoring four baskets in two minutes before being taken out of the game. His were only eight of the twenty-three points put up by the Dragons in the third quarter.
Ragan-Sutton had contributed six points, Vallance four, and Nathan Bova two when Vielbig made a three point shot to end the quarter, giving the Dragons a 52-20 advantage over the Patriots.
Ragan-Sutton is proud of the way the team shot in the third quarter. “We got into it and we started making baskets,” he said, “it was just really fun.”
The Dragons allowed 15 points in the fourth quarter, but continued to score plenty on their own, with additions from Cisco Lomax ‘18 and Winfield White ‘17, with one free throw each, Sam Bova ‘19, with two three pointers, Trey Jackson ‘18, with one layup, and Jeremiah Sanchez ‘18, with two free throws. All helped the Dragons to widen their lead and finish with a final score of 68-35.
Holst predicts this game will be “a good momentum builder going into the next round of CIF.”
Vallance agrees, “I think it will help us a lot because we know that we can play with anybody,” he said. “It’s a good win, and we’ve got to keep it up going forward.”