PALO CEDRO – If Bobby Fischer was courtside at The Cougars Palace Wednesday night, he would have savored the chess match between two familiar rivals.
A fourth meeting this season between Enterprise and Foothill went in the way of the hosts as the top-seeded Cougars used a 7-0 run late in the third quarter to get breathing room and finished off the fourth-seeded Hornets for a 47-36 victory in the Northern Section Division III semifinal Wednesday night. All coverage is presented by Redding Rancheria.
Points came at a premium with both teams jumping each other’s offensive sets and rotating on defense when the plays were called out. By the fourth meeting, tendencies and styles are easily picked apart.
“That’s the reason why it’s always so low-scoring,” said Foothill’s Bekdoo Lewis, who finished with a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. “We know so much about them and they know about everything we want to do. We both know what plays are coming because we do so much research and it came down to who wanted it more.”
Foothill (25-4) advances to the Northern Section championship game for a fourth straight season and five in the past six years. The Cougars face third-seeded Pleasant Valley, a 60-52 winner over Chico, Friday at Butte College at 4:15 p.m., setting up a fourth consecutive finals meeting between the two schools.
Video by Tracy Holmes/Shasta County Sports
“It all started with mental preparation,” said Foothill senior Josiah Palumbo, who scored a game-high 15 points. “I told the guys the other day that we’re going to win this game. It wasn’t going to be another miracle (for Enterprise). As long as we envision ourselves winning and not losing then that’s going to happen.”
Foothill tried to take advantage with its size with 6-foot-6 Brandon McCracken and a strong 6-2 post in Nick Dore. But that played into Enterprise’s game plan of trying to slow the game down as much as it could. McCracken and Dore each finished with seven points with Dore adding 10 rebounds.
Enterprise didn’t score for the first 7 minutes, 28 seconds but only found itself trailing by four at the end of the first and cut it to 9-7 early in the second. Hornets’ coach Jim Deaver wasn’t worried.
“That’s what we wanted,” Deaver said. “We wanted that low score. If you keep them under 50 you have a chance.”
Both of Foothill’s defeats to Northern Section foes came when the Cougars scored less than 50, one from the Hornets. So it was no surprise Enterprise tried a repeat performance.
A pair of Brennan Ramirez free throws cut the deficit to two late in the second period but Lewis drove the baseline and snuck in a layup before the buzzer to give Foothill a 18-13 lead the break.
With Foothill shooting 1-of-10 from 3 in the first half, and MVP candidate Luke Lindsey scoreless, the Cougars weren’t out of sorts. Dore went to work in the low post, going up strong for an and-1 on a putback to stretch the lead to eight.
Enterprise swung the momentum back in its favor with back-to-back layups from Gage Owen, the second of which stemmed from a Demarreya Lewis-Cooper block to start the transition game.
McCracken later split a pair of free throws but Lewis was there to tip-in the miss and Enterprise trailed 36-26 entering the final period.
“Good teams still find a way to win and we had great defense and that’s a tribute to how hard we’re playing,” Foothill coach Bill Elliott said. “We went away from the 3-ball to get shots inside.”
A Kobe Fuller reverse layup electrified the Hornet faithful to start the fourth and Lewis-Cooper sank two freebies to get within eight.
But Foothill capitalized on Enterprise collapsing inside as McCracken kicked it out to Dore, who swung it on the perimeter to Lindsey for a 3-pointer to go up 11.
Jermaine Mondaine gave the Hornets one more spurt of life, hitting a floater while falling down and making a bucket in transition to get within seven.
But Dore spun inside for 2 and then Owen was called for an offensive charge at the other end on what Deaver believed should have been an and-1 in favor of the Hornets. Dore cleaned up his own miss with 3:25 left and Enterprise’s only points down the stretch came with 59 seconds left on Owen’s layup.
Fuller was the lone Hornet to score in double figures with a team-high 11 points for Enterprise, which deploys mainly a five-man rotation all year. Deaver couldn’t help but commend his guys for their will to push themselves.
“In (29) games, those five guys played almost every minute of every game and they’re still standing,” Deaver said. “It says a lot about their character and dedication and effort to the team.”
Up next for Foothill is PV, looking to avenge the past two section final losses. But once again, a familiar foe in the Northern Section.
“We beat them twice already which means they’re coming for blood,” Lewis said. Have to stay composed and do what we do best which is play basketball.”
Foothill 47, Enterprise 36
Enterprise (16-13): Fuller 11, Owen 7, Mondaine 7, Ramirez 5, Lewis-Cooper 4, Crane 2.
Foothill (25-4): Palumbo 15, Lewis 10, Dore 7, McCracken 7, Lindsey 5, Edwards 3.
3-pointers—Enterprise 2 (Fuller, Mondaine); Foothill 2 (Edwards, Lindsey)
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