Foothill High’s Delanie Henning scored a team-high 13 points for the Cougars, leading them to a 45-40 win over Colfax Tuesday night in the first state playoff win in program history. (Photo by Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)
PALO CEDRO – Leading by two with 19 seconds left, Riley Wallen made both ends of a 1-and-1, walked over to her teammates in the following timeout and jokingly wiped her brow.
It was that kind of a game for the Cougars.
Seventh-seeded Foothill held off a late comeback from No. 10 Colfax of the Sac-Joaquin Section for a 45-40 home victory in the first round of the CIF State Division IV playoffs Tuesday night at The Cougars Palace. All playoff coverage is presented by Redding Rancheria.
It’s the first state playoff game in program history for the Cougars, coach Stephanie Ahluwalia said, but you wouldn’t have known it when the final buzzer went off. Part of that could be going from an capacity crowd in the section championship game against a rival to a near-empty gym against a team that could might as well have been from another state.
“Some teams after they lose will not want to play again and just want to go home and that’s not us,” Wallen said. “Sometimes we drop down to the other teams’ level.”
Foothill saw its eight-point fourth-quarter lead midway through the period trimmed to two with 1:25 to play. Sloppy ball control from the Cougars didn’t allow them to put the game away when they could have. Need a jolt of energy, Wallen provided it by taking on contact while driving through the lane which led to free throws.
She made both to stretch it to a four-point advantage with less than a minute to go. Colfax answered with a layup to make it 42-40 with 39 seconds left and stole the backcourt pass with a chance to tie but missed the layup. That made Colfax play the fouling game and Wallen went to the line to sink both, icing the game.
“I knew those free throws were going to be critical because they had momentum, they were coming,” Wallen said.
Wallen was one of three Foothill players in double figures with 12 points while Delanie Henning paced the Cougars with 13 and Jenna Wallace had 10.
It was Henning early on that kept Foothill ahead, finding ways to score in the low-post. She scored seven of the first 11 Foothill points before picking up two fouls and having to sit. Henning’s back-to-back buckets put Foothill up 9-7 and 11-7 and the Cougars never let the lead go the rest of the way.
“I don’t think Lanie realizes she can take anyone that she wants in the paint,” Wallen said. “Her shot off the left glass is just beautiful. We knew this was going to be an inside game and we knew we could penetration and coach said to get her the ball inside. She’s just unbeatable off the left glass and she took charge.”
Wallace buried a 3 to put Foothill ahead 10 midway through the second and the two teams traded a handful of putbacks before Henning scored inside just before half for a 24-20 lead.
Kaitlyn Troncale pushed in transition in the third for a layup and Wallen attacked the basket for 2 and the Foothill lead grew to 11. A 3-pointer from Colfax before the end of the third cut it to seven.
Several times Foothill had chances to put the game away but would go on stretches with two or three possessions without a point, letting Colfax hang around. Henning fed a cutting Mitchell for a 40-32 lead with 4:29 left but Colfax turned a steal into a layup and then made 3 of 5 free throws to make it a one possession game.
“Complacency has been our biggest issue all season long and I don’t get it,” Ahluwalia said. “When we get 10-point lead, they don’t know how to sit there and keep digging it in. They play better if they don’t know what the score is.”
After Wallen made her free throws, Colfax had a chance to cut back into the lead with 20 seconds left. But Wallen was there to grab two defensive rebounds – the second after Colfax stole the ball away – and Foothill was able to close the game out on freebies. In the final period, Foothill was 7 of 8 from the charity stripe with the lone miss coming with 2 seconds left, showing their composure did come in handy down the stretch.
Foothill heads to No. 2 Menlo-Atherton in the CIF NorCal Quarterfinals.
#7 Foothill 45, #10 Colfax 40
Colfax (26-5): Owens 15, Bliss 15, Chavez 4, Lundberg 2, Detwiler 2, Cerna 2.
Foothill (21-10): Henning 13, Wallen 12, Wallace 10, Mitchell 7, Troncale 2, Toney 1.
3-pointers—Colfax 2 (Bliss, Owens); Foothill 3 (Wallace 2, Mitchell).