The last time Foothill lost a basketball game was in late January. It was a turning point for the Trojans that also had a moment of proclamation.
After his North High squad defeated the Trojans by a point on the road, Stars coach A.J. Shearon walked the line to congratulate the opposition on a good game. The win clinched the Southeast Yosemite League for North and set Foothill on an historic path.
Shearon, while mic’d up by Clutch Clips, was heard congratulating Foothill players until he got to the end of the line when he gave Edward “Squid” Turner a hug and told him to "go get a state title."
On Tuesday in the CIF Southern California Division V Regional Championships at North, No. 1 Foothill took down No. 2 San Diego-Southwest 69-55 to push the Trojans 32 minutes away from making that statement come true.
The Trojans will now play for the D-V state championship at noon on Friday at the Golden 1 Center in downtown Sacramento against Mt. Shasta.
“It didn’t dawn on me until later that night what he said and what it meant,” Turner said. “Now look. We are one game away from doing it.”
Foothill coach Wes Davis added, “It was big. You look for turning points in your season.”
After playing in front of a standing-room-only crowd at home in the first three rounds at home, the Trojans took the invitation from Shearon and the North administration, who opened their doors to the bigger and more spacious gym to allow more basketball fans around Bakersfield to watch the Trojans become the first Kern County team to play for a state title since East won the D-II title in 1994.
“This is amazing. The crowd has a big impact on the game,” Turner said. “Bakersfield was behind us on this one. They came to support the Trojans because we are trying to win a state title for them.”
Foothill, winners of 12 straight, also has the chance to become the first two-time state champion in county history after the Trojans won the D-II title in 1988.
Foothill never trailed and led by at least nine points after a 10-0 early lead in the second quarter.
Sophomore Jaden Phillips led the Trojans (23-11) with 17 points. His uncle, Reggie, was on the 1988 state championship team and was in attendance.
“This is a big moment for me in my life; in my journey,” Phillips said. “I just want to follow in his footsteps and do great things like he did. He set the way for me and I’m just trying to follow.”
Turner added 16, Elijah Seales had 14 and Warren Stingley added 10 for the Trojans, who were just too overpowering for the undersized Raiders (28-8).
“(Foothill) just overpowered us,” Southwest coach Steve Selland said. “They just hit outside shots, then got us inside. We just were overwhelmed by their abilities on offense. That’s unusual for us.”
Now it’s on to Sacramento.
“It’s unbelievable. I always knew I would be able to come to Foothill and bring them back to life in someway,” Turner said. “But I never thought about it like this.”
“We are just a bunch of guys the eastside playing basketball. I don’t the reality has hit us yet. I don’t think we’ve noticed how significant this is.”