EC Preps






LA JOLLA (02-23-2019) – Foothills Christian and Torrey Pines met in the San Diego Section Open Division Championship game at RIMAC Arena on the campus of UCSD Saturday night. Masterpiece Theater it was not. Mystery Science Theatre, a bit. A Twilight zone of numbers, certainly.

Any gambler in Vegas would have taken a wager on the Knights if they were told that they’d be spotted 24-Falcons turnovers on the evening. 15-steals for Foothills compared to four for Torrey Pines, double down on that bet. But basketball has a single number that drives all statisticians wild, shooting percentage. It is the great equalizer in the game of roundball, and unfortunately for the Knights, it was not in their favor at UCSD.


Foothills Christian connected on nine of 22-three point attempts when the Knights and Falcons met back on December 22, a game Foothills went on to win 90-89 in double-overtime. Saturday night Foothills finished 0-16 from beyond the arc and 19-55 overall shooting for the game (34.5%).


Despite a 15-4 first quarter deficit, the result of a 1-12 shooting performance, Foothills Christian had a number of chances to shock Torrey Pines by game’s end. The Knights followed the mantra of BRAD LEAF coached teams that has gone on for well over a decade. There was no panic, lots of chipping away, and suddenly by the fourth quarter, a ballgame.

Foothills Christian’s senior guard JAREN NAFARRETE had a rough shooting night. Defensively the dependable leader for the Knights provided spark after spark, steals, 50/50 balls, and deflections throughout the night. Yet the senior remained without a basket until the 6:27 mark of the fourth quarter, or so it seemed. With Foothills trailing 36-39 Nafarrete garnered a Noah Viera miss at the other end of the floor and sped up court for a tough layup. The Foothills bench erupted as the whistle sounded, 38-39 the scoreboard read momentarily, 38-39 read the graphic on the NFHS webcast momentarily, but only momentarily. An offensive foul call went against Nafarrete and the bucket was negated.

Still, without panic, and without the three-point attempts that had let the Knights down in the first half, Foothills managed to find ways to stay in it. At the 5:51 mark junior YASSINE GHARRAM stripped Viera after Viera had rebounded his own block of Gharram. A basket and the foul for Gharram looked as though it would give Foothills it’s first tie of the night, but the free throw fell short.

Torrey Pines built their lead back to seven points at 48-41 with just 1:37 to play. DERRICK CARTER-HOLLINGER hit a jumper for two of his game high 19-points, then after brother DERRIEN CARTER-HOLLINGER forced another Falcons turnover, he added two more to cut the Torrey Pines lead to 48-45 with 0:35 to play. A Ryan Brown missed free throw left the door open once more for the Knights and once more Derrick Carter-Hollinger answered. A layup, a foul, but once more, Foothills Christian could not get the break they needed, the free throw rimmed out.

Bryce Pope sank a paid of free throws for Torrey Pines to extend the Falcon lead back to 3 with a few seconds to play. A Nafarrete three-ball had no better result than the 15-attempts the Knights had made before it, and one last Torrey Pines free throw sealed the first Open Division Championship 51-47 for the Falcons.

Foothills Christian outscored Torrey Pines 38-27 over the final 20 minutes of play, but they were done in by their first eight. On a night that was stellar defensively by nearly any measure for Foothills, it was the offense that never broke free for the Knights. With 15-more shot attempts and double the forced turnovers, Coach Leaf’s team found themselves on the wrong side of the one number that dooms great teams the same way it dooms any other, the shots that fell.

Derrick Carter-Hollinger 19 (3 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Blk, 2 Stl), Yassine Gharram 13 (6 Stl, 3 Reb, 2 Ast), Jalai O’Keith 9 (3 Reb, 2 Blk, 2 Stl, 1 Ast), Derrien Carter-Hollinger 6 (3 Reb, 1 Stl), Jaren Nafarrete (5 Reb, 4 Stl, 1 Ast), Jaden LaBel (1 Reb)

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