Wes Davis still sits back and shakes his head in amazement.
Just five years removed from a winless season for the Foothill boys basketball program, the fourth-year head coach for the Trojans sometimes doesn’t know what to make of the moment.
Foothill beat South 69-36 on Thursday at home in front of a capacity crowd on senior night when two former players, Art Charles and Reggie Phillips, were showing off their 1998 CIF State Division II championship rings to the team pregame.
Foothill, 0-24 in 2013-14, is now one win away from a 20-win season and can finish out the Southeast Yosemite League with an undefeated record in next week’s regular season finale.
“I am in disbelief about that,” Davis said. “I know these guys work hard, but I ask myself, ‘Man, are we really going to be undefeated in league?’ We are right there.”
Davis is doing his best to not look too far ahead, but to be at the helm of a resurgence on the eastside of Bakersfield, it’s hard not to be.
“We have the pieces in place to make a deep playoff run,” Davis said.
Fresno State assistant coach Nick Matson was in the building watching Trojans’ standout junior Edward “Squid” Turner. Bakersfield College coach Rich Hughes made an appearance as well.
Having college coaches in attendance and former Foothill standouts coming back to check out the excitement on campus, Davis welcomes all of it.
“This is one of the best gyms in town,” Davis said. “It’s small and intimate. So when it gets packed in, it’s joyous. I am happy for these kids. From the bottom of my heart.”
Fans have began flocking to Foothill to see Turner, who gave the crowd a show with two highlight-reel dunks and finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Seniors Malik Tuatau and Alex Hernandez both scored nine points and freshman Jaden Phillips, the cousin of Reggie Phillips, had eight points for the Trojans (19-9, 7-0).
But the player of the game was junior guard Cesar Valdez, who hit five 3-pointers and scored a game-high 25 points.
“It feels great to get here to where we are right now,” Tautau said. “We just work really hard. We really want to go further.”
Foothill, along with Bakersfield Christian, are favorites for the top seed in the Division IV playoffs that will be released on Feb. 16. It’s a long journey over the last four years for the Trojans, but one Davis anticipated with his talented group.
“This group of seniors were freshman when I started,” Davis said. “I looked at this group and knew this was the group that is going to turn this program around. And they have.”
Damien Wesson led South (11-16, 3-5) with 14 points. Brad Bowens added 12 and Mario Marquez had nine as the three scored 35 of the Rebels’ 36 points.