Brannon Cresanto had just hit his eighth 3-pointer of the game to give Foothill a one-point lead when Palo Verde coach Jermone Riley called timeout to gently remind his players that they ought to guard the sharpshooter.
The reminder worked, as Cresanto didn’t hit another field goal, and the Panthers pulled away for an 87-74 win in the championship game of the Foothill Holiday Classic on Wednesday.
“We can’t let a great shooter get wide-open looks,” Riley said. “Too many guys were missing their assignments defensively, and one of their assignments was to make him a driver and not allow him to get his feet set and knock down shots, because he’s a heck of a shooter.”
Nahjee Matlock’s three-point play with 9:17 left gave the Panthers the lead again and keyed an 8-0 run that allowed Palo Verde to stretch its edge to 67-60. Foothill didn’t get closer than four points the rest of the way.
Palo Verde’s guards keyed the offense again, with Matlock scoring 22 points and point guard Eris Winder adding 21 points, three assists and six steals.
Jordyn Martin, a 6-foot-7-inch senior forward, had 14 points, 12 rebounds, two blocked shots and three steals for the Panthers.
Martin, who averaged 14.3 points and was second in the tournament in rebounding at 9.3 per game, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The versatile Martin sees time at all three frontcourt spots for Palo Verde.
“Jordyn is a special kid,” Riley said. “He does a little bit of everything. Whatever the team needs him to do, he’ll do. Any college that gets this kid is getting a heck of a steal, a great kid that can impact any Division I college.”
Palo Verde used its defense to create transition opportunities, with the speedy Matlock and Winder often racing ahead of the pack for layups.
The Panthers forced 29 turnovers, turning them into 38 points. They scored 27 points off turnovers in the first half.
“That’s what you need to do against this team,” Riley said. “They are the best in town at what they do, and if you let these guys get into a halfcourt set, they will punish you with movement and unselfish play.
“So we had to let our defense work for us.”
Cresanto was 8-for-15 on 3-pointers and totaled 28 points.
“We preach about closing games, and this was a game that we needed to close,” Riley said. “We’re in their gym, on the road, and to come here and get a win is really going to prepare us for our long-term goal, which is to win a state championship.”
Valley 66, Melbourne (Australia) 64 — Caleb Carter’s follow slam with 18 seconds to play gave the Vikings the win in the third-place game.
Melbourne led 64-59 after a basket by Murray Hooper with 1:40 to play.
Keanu Peters then hit a 3-pointer with 1:32 to cut the lead to two, and Spencer Mathis had a follow bucket with 48 seconds left to tie the game.
Ryan Johnson had 18 points and five rebounds to lead the Vikings. Peters added 16 points, 15 in the second half. Carter had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Michael Dow led Melbourne with 23 points, but was just 5-for-17 on 3-pointers.
Denver East 75, Eldorado 66 — Dominique Collier had 33 points and six rebounds as the Angels defeated the Sundevils in the fourth-place game.
Markeith Floyd led Eldorado with 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Da’Quon Thrower added 13 points, and D.J. Billingsley scored 12 for Eldorado.
Las Vegas 62, Galena 56 — Hasaan Henderson and Juwan Major each had 17 points to help the Wildcats top the Grizzlies.
Henderson was 3-for-6 on 3-pointers and also had six steals for Las Vegas, which forced 24 turnovers.
Kirk Gunderson led Galena with 18 points, and E.J. Poulson had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Grizzlies.
Green Valley 55, Arbor View 36 — Durrell McDonald had 17 points and five rebounds to help the Gators top the Aggies.
Devan Kohn added 10 points and seven rebounds, and Brandon Hoisington pulled down eight rebounds for Green Valley, which outrebounded Arbor View 47-32.
Justin Burks led Arbor View with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Redemption (N.Y.) 74, Coronado 70 — Ricardo Ayuso had 32 points, and Redemption held off the Cougars despite finishing the game with just four players.
Michael Louder had 22 points, and J.P. Cadena and Jordan Willis each scored 11 for Coronado.
Shadow Ridge jumped out to a 14-2 lead and never trailed as the Mustangs rolled Liberty, 53-33 for the Silver Division title.
David Everage finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds to lead Shadow Ridge.
Silver Division MVP Nick Flowers scored all 10 of his points in the first half to help the Mustangs to a 24-16 lead at the break.
Will Martin added 11 points and seven rebounds for Shadow Ridge.
LaQuan Hawkins led Liberty with 10 points. The Patriots were just 10-for-45 (22.2 percent) from the field.
Mt. Miguel (Calif.) 66, Del Sol 53 — Cory Littleton had 17 points, 19 rebounds and three steals as the Matadors topped the Dragons in the third-place game.
Mt. Miguel held a double-digit lead through most of the second half before Del Sol made a run, getting as close as six on a 3-pointer by Chris Marshall with 5:13 to play that cut the lead to 52-46.
Izzy Wagner answered the run with a 3-pointer and another basket, and Del Sol wouldn’t challenge again.
Wagner scored 19 for the Matadors.
Tyrone Rouse had 20 points and seven rebounds to lead Del Sol. Nathan Kirschbaum added nine points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots for the Dragons.
Faith Lutheran 61, Cimarron-Memorial 58 — D’Khari Hicks scored 17 points as the Crusaders held off the Spartans in the fourth-place game.
John Molchon scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half for Faith Lutheran, and Stuart Engs added 10 points for the Crusaders.
Arin Henderson led Cimarron with 23 points. J.C. Broussard scored 15, and Erik Brewer added 11 points for the Spartans.
Desert Pines 47, Mojave 38 — Trevion Turner had 13 points to help the Jaguars top the Rattlers in the fifth-place game.
Thomas Hooper added 12 points for Desert Pines.
Mojave’s Marcus Hines led all scorers with 18 points.
Western 52, Lincoln (Colo.) 50 — Lawrence Weekly scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half to help the Warriors edge the Lancers in a consolation game.
Samuel Jamerson and Nathan Johnson each added 10 points for Western.
Gabriel Vazquez had 25 points for Lincoln.
Sierra Vista 78, Melbourne 2 (Australia) 54 — Sean Williams poured in 30 points to lead the Mountain Lions to the win.