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Top-seeded Foothill falls short to PV 47-45 in D-III title game

Cougars lose to Vikings for third straight time in section final

Foothill High's Brandon McCracken (left) and Luke Lindsey (middle) defend Pleasant Valley's Aaron Gomez during the Northern Section Division III championship game Friday night at Butte College. Foothill lost 47-45. (Matt Bates/Chico Enterprise-Record)

BUTTE VALLEY — It was a sweet and sour recipe — sweet if you’re a Pleasant Valley fan and sour if you root for Foothill.

The top-seeded Cougars mixed early foul trouble with an inability to finish around the basket and PV added in 11-of-12 free throws down the stretch as the Vikings held off Foothill 47-45 to win the Northern Section boys Division III title for the second straight year. The PV win gives it three straight titles, all over Foothill.

“I think Bill (Elliott) and I are going to remember each other for the rest of our lives,” PV coach Tim Keating joked after the win. “He did this to me three years ago and I guess now it’s payback.”

All postseason action is presented by Redding Rancheria.

The Cougars used the long ball to take a 12-5 lead after the first period as Josiah Palumbo, Luke Lindsey an Nick Dore all this triples while Bekdoo Lewis watched after picking up two fouls in the first five minutes of the game.

But Foothill had trouble converting in the paint, but kept the lead with a top-of-the-key 3-pointer from Dore a left-wing triple from Hunter Edwards before Edwards finally got a field goal to drop at the 3:30 mark of the second.

The top seed took at 25-22 lead into the locker room, but the Cougars were 3-of-11 from inside the arc.

“When you can’t finish around the basket and probably miss 10 from four to five feet and hold a team as good as PV is to 47, you should win the game,” Elliott said.

The shooting woes continued and the fouls mounted for Foothill, which saw its lead shrink to 31-30 at the end of the third as PV closed the period on a 7-0 run with a transition bucket from Jake Kremer, an end-of-shot-clock basket from Jaydon Monath and a transition score from Chase Mitchell.

“We were sticking to our game plan,” Keating said. “They shot better than I thought from guys I didn’t think were going to shoot like that. We had to stick to our guns and hope the odds would catch up.”

Foothill High’s Bekdoo Lewis boxes out Pleasant Valley’s Taylor Keating during the NSCIF Division III championship Friday night at Butte College. (Matt Bates/Chico Enterprise-Record)

Nursing a one-point lead, Dore opened the fourth quarter with an offensive explosion, going on a personal 5-0 run with a trey from the top of the key and basket at the 7-minute mark to give Foothill a 36-30 edge.

And then it unraveled for the Cougars as Pleasant Valley went on a 12-0 run fueled by a transition game that featured three field goals and six free throws.

Elliott blamed no one but the Cougars for the Vikings’ burst.

“That run is on us,” he said. “We missed a couple of chip shots and everyone’s at the rim rebounding and once they get the rebound it’s a run out and we can’t catch them at the other end because they’re so quick.

“If we hit those two-footers, it’s a moot point because we’re scoring and they can’t run out in transition. Our inability to hit the shots around the run caused a lot of that for PV.”

Aaron Gomez scored six of the Vikings’ dozen in the run, hitting four freebies and a starting the run with a dribble-drive down the left side of the lane.

After Taylor Keating hit two from the line, Gomez took a Dore missed two-footer and was fouled in transition, hitting the charity shots to tie the game at 36 with 5 minutes remaining. A Gomez steal and fast-break layup gave PV its first lead since 3-0 early in the game before Ned Joyce and Grant Garretson extended the edge to 42-36.

“He’s such as great athlete,” Elliott said of Gomez. “He’s a tough cover.”

But Foothill didn’t earn the one-seed by folding up shop.

Lindsey pulled the Cougars within three with a triple and four possessions later Palumbo hit a drive down the lane as Foothill trailed 44-43 with under 35 seconds left.

As Foothill was forced to play the foul game, PV’s Kremer hit two free throws and Gomez added one of two for a 47-43 lead with 16 seconds left.

The PV defense forced the Cougars to bleed too much clock and when Dore scored down low to make the game 47-45, the clock read 4 seconds and PV didn’t have to inbounds as the buzzer sounded.

“We were trying to score in a little earlier, but we fought as far as we could down the stretch knowing it was pretty long odds,” Elliott said.

The Cougars await Sunday’s NorCal seeding and Elliott said he’s happy to be playing someone other than an Eastern Athletic League foe (PV and Foothill played three times this season).

“We’ve done pretty well in the past (NorCal tournaments) and we’ll play anybody anywhere,” Elliott said. “We’ll be excited to play someone different to be honest.”

Pleasant Valley 5-17-8-17 — 47
Foothill¬†12-13-6-14 — 45
No. 3 Vikings (19-12): Gomez 17, Kremer 10, Monath 5, Mitchell 4, Montoya 3, Joyce 3, Garretson 3, Keating 2.
No. 1 Cougars (25-5) – Dore 16, Lindsey 8, Palumbo 7, Edwards 7, Lewis 4, McCracken 3.
3-pointers–PV 2 (Montoya, Monath); Foothill 7 (Dore 3, Lindsey 2, Palumbo, Edwards)

Aaron Williams has been involved in the North State sports scene for nearly two decades. He spent eight years as the Sports Editor for the local newspaper and another four more as the voice of high school football on the radio. Williams has coached various sports at the high school level over the past decade, most recently at Shasta High, and is also the public address announcer for the Shasta College football and basketball teams.

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