Foothill girls basketball coach Eric Kruger knows his team can keep up in an offensive shootout.
Kruger found out Tuesday that the Falcons also are capable of grinding out a close victory.
Kelsey McFarland finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds, and host Foothill ended the game on a 12-4 run to slip past sixth-ranked Green Valley 68-61.
“I love that we can win a dogfight like that at the end, and we do preach that in practice,” Kruger said. “We want to be the team that can finish at the end. We’re a really confident crew, and they have confidence in each other. That came out the last three minutes of the game.”
Mikayla Yeakel made two free throws with 1:43 left to put the No. 5 Falcons (8-2) ahead 58-57, the last of eight second-half lead changes. Green Valley (4-2) closed to 61-59 on a bucket by Maggie Manwarren with 39 seconds to go, but McFarland’s three-point play put the Falcons up five with 30.2 seconds to go.
“I thought the girls in there — really all game but especially at the end — made enough adjustments as players to make the grimy, end-of-the-game plays it takes to win a game like that,” Kruger said. “It’s good for both teams to play a game like that in December.”
Yeakel had 15 points and eight rebounds, and Katey Roquemore added 11 points, including 3-pointers on consecutive possessions that helped give the Falcons a 41-36 lead in the third quarter.
Foothill’s leading scorer, Taylor Turney, had six points and seven rebounds while battling foul trouble most of the game. Tabitha Winward (nine rebounds), Indoneisha Struve (seven rebounds) and Nicole Benson (six points) helped pick up the slack for the Falcons.
“It’s good to see our bench step up and fill spots,” Kruger said. “They showed a lot of courage in some spots where we needed a play to be made.”
Rianna Rudolph led the Gators with 21 points and eight rebounds, and teammate Brooke Haney notched a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Rudolph’s short jumper capped an 11-3 run and gave Green Valley a 51-48 lead with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Manwarren (13 points) made one of two free throws to give the Gators a 57-56 lead with 2:46 to play, but Green Valley’s offense went stagnant after Rudolph fouled out with 1:33 to play and Foothill leading by one point.
Green Valley, which led by as many as five points in the first half, finished 20-for-59 from the field.
“Obviously we still have a lot of kinks we want to work out,” Kruger said. “Today was a good game for us to see what we need to work on going into January.”