Re’Kwon Smith went missing for much of the second half. The standout junior forward for Las Vegas High’s boys basketball team even got an earful from his dad during the fourth quarter regarding his disappearance.
But the 6-foot-7-inch Smith showed up when the Wildcats needed him.
Smith hit a turnaround jumper with 1:13 remaining to give Las Vegas the lead for good and finished with 30 points as Las Vegas knocked off Foothill 81-76 on Thursday in the Sunrise Region semifinals at Green Valley.
The Wildcats (22-6), who advanced to the region final for the first time since 2002, take on defending region champion Canyon Springs (23-4) at 7 p.m. Friday at Green Valley. Las Vegas lost both meetings with Canyon Springs during the regular season.
“We made enough plays at the end,” Wildcats coach Jason Wilson said. “I hope this gives the kids some confidence and brings relevance in basketball back to Vegas High. This is a big program win. Hopefully we’re not done.”
Austin Starr had 17 points for Foothill (20-7), which went 9-for-31 from 3-point range. Matt Rapp scored 14, including a 3-pointer that cut the Wildcats’ lead to 77-76 with 41.4 seconds left in regulation.
Devon Colley’s layup put Las Vegas ahead 79-76, and Patrick Savoy clinched the win when he came up with a steal and drained two free throws with 20.2 seconds to go.
Savoy had 16 points, 10 rebounds and three steals, while Colley added 15 points and six assists. Tyler Bey supplied 14 rebounds, seven rebounds and six blocked shots for Las Vegas, which shot 53.3 percent from the field in the first half on the way to a 42-29 lead.
“I don’t know if we could have played much better in the first half,” Wilson said.
Jalen Shepard scored nine of his 13 points in the second half as the Falcons rallied from as many as 15 points down. Starr hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start a 19-8 fourth-quarter surge, and Shepard’s steal and breakaway layup tied the score at 73 with 1:30 left to play before Smith broke the deadlock for good.
Vincent Modugno pitched in with 11 points, nine in the second half, and Torrance Littles had 10 points and seven boards for Foothill.
“We got back into it,” Falcons coach Kevin Soares said. “We just didn’t get enough stops when we needed it. … It’s a huge disappointment. We didn’t play to get to this point. We played to get further.”
Smith was limited to three field-goal attempts in the second half — he made the first two — before he hit three straight shots in the final 2:55. He scored on a nice post-up move to put Las Vegas on top 69-64 and then drove to the rim for a 71-67 lead.
Smith added 12 rebounds and finished an efficient 11-for-15 from the floor.
“He hit some shots in the first half, and then he had a lull there,” Wilson said. “But when it comes to that time in the game, he’s the guy you want to take over, and that’s what he did in the end.”
Canyon Springs 99, Valley 82 — At Green Valley, Jordan Davis just missed a triple-double with 23 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, and the Pioneers raced past the Vikings (22-7) in a rematch of last season’s region final.
Shaquile Carr added 26 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Chris Nelson scored 17 for Canyon Springs, which led 47-39 at the break and pulled away in the second half for its third victory over the Vikings this season.
Gerad Davis (12 points, 10 rebounds) had a twisting, alley-oop finish early in the fourth quarter to put Canyon Springs on top 75-61, and Carr’s three-point play with 3:09 remaining gave the Pioneers an 87-68 lead and effectively put the game away.
Spencer Mathis paced Valley (22-7) with 21 points and 10 rebounds. His three-point play after being fouled on a fadeaway baseline jumper brought the Vikings to within 62-55 in the third quarter. But Canyon Springs answered with a 7-0 run to thwart the rally.
Gerard Harden had 19 points and nine boards, and Cameron Burton scored 18 points for Valley.