Foothill comes up short 43-41 to top-seeded Pleasant Valley in D-III boys title game

Pleasant Valley’s Aaron Gomez goes up for a rebound between Foothill’s Brandon McCracken (42) and Isaiah Palumbo (20) during Saturday’s Northern Section Division III championship at Shasta College. Foothill lost 43-41. (Photo by Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

Four times Foothill had an opportunity to take a lead in the final 70 seconds. And four times, the Cougars couldn’t connect.

Trailing by two with less 3 seconds left, Josiah Hutt drew three defenders on the perimeter and kicked to Luke Lindsey in the corner for the potential game-winning 3-pointer. Except Lindsey had to reset his feet and the buzzer-beater shot was long, giving top-seeded Pleasant Valley a 43-41 victory over No. 2 Foothill in the Northern Section Division III championship Saturday night at Shasta College. All playoff coverage is sponsored by Redding Rancheria.


“We were one shot from winning the game against a really good team despite being in as much foul trouble as were,” Foothill coach Bill Elliott said. “There wasn’t one thing specifically when you go down the list that caused us to lose. Just a combination of a few things that we couldn’t overcome and I’m proud of how hard the guys fought under adverse conditions.”

Missed opportunities haunted Foothill (23-8) late. Bekdoo Lewis missed the front-end of a 1-and-1, the Cougars got two offensive rebounds and twice missed 3s that would have put them ahead in the final minute. After PV’s Aaron Gomez missed his 1-and-1 foul shot, Hutt didn’t get the look he wanted and the Cougars couldn’t get the ball to drop, allowing PV (23-6) to repeat as section champs.

Josiah Palumbo led Foothill with 11 points while Lindsey added 10 points and Hutt pitched in with nine.

Foothill High’s Luke Lindsey dribbles the ball against Pleasant Valley Saturday in the NSCIF D-III final at Shasta College. (Photo by Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

The surprise came from 6-foot-7 junior Brandon McCracken, who played valuable minutes when most of Foothill’s starters were in foul trouble in the first half. He bodied up PV’s leading scorer Treyson Keating, pulling down key rebounds and adding in seven points of his own, four coming at the close of the first quarter and opening the second to tie it at 10.

“He’s got some girth to him, some strength,” Elliott said of McCracken. “For him to lean on Keating that way really helped us out. We knew down the road he’d be there to help us and it was tonight.”

The Cougars found themselves facing adversity early with Hutt picking up two fouls early and reserves playing much of the second quarter. Hutt entered back in midway through the second and his and-1 highlighted a 9-0 Foothill run that would also stretch to 14-2 after Hutt buried a 3 from the top of the key.

Foothill High’s Josiah Hutt is fouled as he makes a layup over Aaron Gomez during Saturday’s Northern Section Division III championship at Shasta College. (Photo by Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

PV’s Cody Hamilton knocked down a 3 before half to trim the deficit to seven at the break.

McCracken ignited the Foothill crowd with an old-fashioned three-point play early int e third but Foothill chipped away to tie it at 30 on Tyler Otterlei’s transition layup with 3:29 left in the period.

Each team would lead once before the fourth as Keating utilized his strength in the paint for an and-1 and a 37-34 advantage heading to the final stanza.

“The word was ‘believe’ when we walked out of the locker room and had to grind it back to a one possession game and then it was a matter of clock management and execution,” PV coach Tim Keating said.

Hutt’s smooth stroke from downtown tied it right away at 37 in the fourth but points wouldn’t come that easy the rest of the way.

Gomez and Lindsey each took a turn attacking the rim for lay-ins and Daniel Montoya’s pull up jumper from the free throw line put PV ahead two. Palumbo spun inside and kissed it off the glass for a lay-in to even it at 41 but Montoya answered two possessions later with a jumper from the right elbow to go ahead 43-41 with 2:05 remaining.

Pleasant Valley’s Daniel Montoya goes up for a layup between Foothill’s (from left) Brandon McCracken, Josiah Hutt and Bekdoo Lewis in Saturday’s Northern Section Division III final at Shasta College. (Photo by Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

Jayden Gordon drew a crucial charge on a Montoya, erasing a bucket that would have put PV ahead four. Lewis grabbed an offensive rebound on the ensuing possession and was fouled to head to the line for a 1-and-1. He missed the first but Gordon chased down the rebound to keep the possession alive.

Hutt misfired on a 3 and Lewis couldn’t sink it from downtown as Gomez got the rebound and Foothill, which shot 2 of 16 from beyond the arc, was forced to foul with fouls to give. The Cougars eventually sent Gomez to the line and he missed the first, allowoing Foothill to call timeout to draw up a play to go the length of the court in 10.7 seconds.

Palumbo got Hutt the ball at mid-court, he dribbled left across the top of the key and elevated, drawing three defenders to him. Only he dished down to Lindsey, who started toward the basket to crash for the rebound. Lindsey caught it, spun, reset his feet and heaved it, but it was off the mark.

“They went and doubled him so it was a broken plan and Luke was open, it just took a little too much time,” Elliott said.

Keating led PV with 12 points and Montoya and Hamilton each pitched in with 10 for the Vikings.

Both teams are headed to the CIF State Tournament. Brackets will be released on Sunday, check back at ShastaCountySports.com for the announcement.

#1 Pleasant Valley 43, #2 Foothill 41
Foothill 6-18-10-7—41
Pleasant Valley 10-7-20-6—43
Foothill (23-8): Palumbo 11, Lindsey 10, Hutt 9, McCracken 7, Lewis 4.
Pleasant Valley (23-6): Keating 12, Hamilton 10, Montoya 10, Whittaker 5, Otterlei 4, Gomez 2.
3-pointers—Foothill 2 (Hutt 2); Pleasant Valley 3 (Hamilton 2, Whittaker).

About T.J. Holmes

T.J. is a national award-winning journalist who has roamed sidelines, baselines and bleachers in the North State since 2010. He shares his passion for sports and the community with his fiancé Tracy, who works alongside him as a videographer for Shasta County Sports. Story tip: shastacountysports@gmail.com.

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