Foothill coach Kevin Soares wasn’t going to discuss tiebreaker scenarios with his team, instead wanting the players to focus on picking up a win heading into the postseason.
He changed his mind shortly before tipoff and let his players know they needed to beat visiting Silverado by 15 points in order to capture the Southeast League’s No. 1 playoff seed.
The Falcons responded, defeating the Skyhawks 74-53, and clinching the league’s No. 1 seed for the upcoming Sunrise Region tournament.
“We didn’t say anything about it until right before the game,” Soares said. “We didn’t talk about it at all yesterday, we just told them we needed a win because we want to go into the playoffs with a win. Today, I said screw it, we might as well try to go for it and we got it done.”
Silverado could have won the league title outright with a win, but Foothill’s victory left the Falcons (15-11, 11-3 Southeast) and Skyhawks (20-5, 11-3) in a four-way tie with Green Valley and Coronado.
The tiebreaker came down to point differential between the four teams, and Foothill needed to win by at least 15 to pull even with Green Valley in that category. And because the Falcons swept the Gators during the season, they got the top seed.
“Once we read that scenario, we knew what we had to do,” Soares said. “And it’s a testament to every kid on that team that they stepped up tonight and did what they had to do to get that No. 1 seed.”
Foothill led 50-45 going into the fourth quarter, but scored the first five points of the final period. An alley-oop slam by Darren Buckles helped key the run, and the Falcons did it with defense from there.
Foothill held Silverado to 2-for-19 shooting in the fourth quarter, and the Skyhawks were 0-for-8 on 3-pointers.
“Our defense was very, very good tonight,” Soares said. “I think we got their guards tired, because their shots were falling a little short in the fourth quarter.”
Brannon Cresanto had 22 points, five rebounds and six assists to lead Foothill. Greg Cox had 13 points, Buckles had 11 points and eight rebounds, and Elijah Smith had eight points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
Smith had four rebounds and shot 5-for-6 from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
“I’m proud of him,” Soares said of his junior guard. “He’s learning on the job, and each year he gets better. Tonight he focused. And normally he doesn’t make free throws, but tonight he made free throws at the end and grabbed some big rebounds.”
Justin Johnson led Silverado with 15 points. Ruben Jackson and David Ware each had 13.