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Basketball - Boys

Huge third quarter lifts Foothill over PV 68-55 to take control of EAL

Palumbo catches fire in fourth for career-high 26 points

Video by Tracy Holmes/Shasta County Sports

PALO CEDRO – One characteristic that keeps surfacing for the Cougars this season is the lack of panic in tight situations.

Despite falling behind six at half on the wrong end of a 10-2 run, Foothill High’s boys basketball team outscored visiting Pleasant Valley 19-2 in the third quarter and interrupted any Viking momentum in the fourth for a 68-55 victory at The Cougars Palace Tuesday night.

“We try to keep up the grind and own the second half,” said Foothill senior Josiah Palumbo. “The goal is to out-dog them in the second half.”

The win puts Foothill, the top boys team in the Northern Section Power Rankings, in control of the Eastern Athletic League at 6-1 with three games to play. Better yet, PV and Enterprise are both out of the way for the Cougars at least until the postseason.

“We talked about being in this spot and not having to worry about any scoreboard except for our own now,” Foothill coach Bill Elliott said.

Palumbo scored 14 of his career-high 26 points in the fourth quarter as the senior point guard caught fire against the Vikings (5-2 EAL, 15-9), similar to the first meeting when he dropped 22 points. He scored Foothill’s first 11 points in the final period, answering PV’s mini runs with step-back 3-pointers and late possession buckets.

The Vikings cut the deficit to 8, 5 and 7 twice in the fourth quarter, each of which was followed by a made shot from Palumbo.

“I was just feeling it,” Palumbo said. “It was time to let it fly. This is where I practice every day and put in my sweat. This is my home.”

PV took its first lead of the game at 25-23 midway through the second on Ned Joyce’s inside feed to Grant Garretson. Foothill (6-1 EAL, 22-3) went inside-out with PV collapsing on 6-foot-6 center Brandon McCracken but the senior dished to Hunter Edwards on the outside for a swished 3.

But the Cougars got sloppy with the ball late in the second quarter, turning it over five times in the final 3 minutes and the Vikings capitalized with a 10-2 run, highlighted by back-to-back old-fashioned three-point plays from Chase Mitchell to lead 36-30 at the break.

“We started going too fast on offense,” Elliott said. “They’re so good in transition that it’s almost always a turnover against them every time. They’re so quick and athletic to finish at the rim.”

Garretson hit a bucket right away in the third quarter but Foothill’s focus out of the locker room was defense. And it fueled their lopsided quarter.

Palumbo knocked down a 3-pointer to ignite a run of 19 straight points for the Cougars as each of Foothill’s four senior starters – Luke Lindsey, McCracken, Palumbo and Bekdoo Lewis – made two field goals during the run to put Foothill ahead 49-38 entering the fourth.

“We didn’t execute like we did in the first half and couldn’t settle down,” PV coach Tim Keating said. “We got dysfunctional.”

Any time the Vikings cut into the deficit in the fourth, Palumbo was there to keep pace. He hit four 3s in the final period, the second of which followed Aaron Gomez’s one-handed dunk that pulled PV within five.

But the poise of Palumbo, and the rest of the Cougars, was evident. He buried a coffin corner 3, later knocked down a pull-up trey to avoid a shot clock violation to stretch the lead to nine and drove the lane for a layup to put Foothill ahead 60-51.

“The one thing you can’t replace is quickness; he has a lot of heart and loves to compete,” Elliott said of Palumbo. “Put all that together and that makes him a tough cover. If you go one step in the wrong direction he’s by you, if you sag off him he’ll bury the 3.”

A 3 from PV’s Jake Kremer made it a six-point game with 2:17 remaining but Nick Dore split a pair of free throws and Palumbo hit from range once more to pull away for good.

Mitchell led PV win scoring with 15 points while Gomez tallied 14 points and Joyce added 11.

Foothill had two players aside of Palumbo score in double figures with Lindsey contributing 13 points and Dore adding 10 points. McCracken nearly had a double-double with nine points and 14 rebounds, most of the boards.

Foothill 68, Pleasant Valley 55
PV 15-21-2-17—55
Foothill 17-13-19-19—68
PV (5-2 EAL, 15-9): Mitchell 15, Gomez 14, Joyce 11, Garretson 6, Keating 5, Kramer 4.
Foothill (6-1 EAL, 22-3): Palumbo 26, Lindsey 13, Dore 10, McCracken 9, Lewis 7, Edwards 3.
3-pointers—PV 4 (Joyce, Gomez, Keating, Mitchell); Foothill 7 (Palumbo 5, Edwards, Dore).

EAL STANDINGS
Team EAL, Overall
Foothill 6-1, 22-3
PV 5-2, 15-9
Chico 5-2, 14-8
Enterprise 2-5, 13-11
Shasta 2-5, 15-10
Red Bluff 1-6, 5-19

T.J. is a national-award winning journalist passionate about local news and telling the story no one else knows about. He’s roamed sidelines, baselines and bleachers in the North State since 2010 and is a content producer from sunup to sundown. Sports are a hobby he shares with his wife Tracy where they’ve spent many dates around a field or court of some sort.

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