CIF Boys Division V Basketball

Foothill's Cesar Valdez wears the net around his neck Friday after the Trojans defeated Mt. Shasta in the CIF Division V boys state basketball championships in Sacramento.

SACRAMENTO — History is never kind to haters.

In a world of instant anger thanks to social media, hatred spreads like wildfire. 

After Foothill — a school with an enrollment around 2,000 — beat Mt. Shasta (a small town school in Northern California with just a hair over 300 kids) for the CIF State Division V boys basketball championship on Friday at Golden 1 Center, internet blowhards wanted justice.

Those same crying foul searching for reasons why a city school like Foothill was even in a division with a school like Mt. Shasta need a refresher course on the competitive equity model for the CIF State playoff committee.

School size doesn’t matter.

What matters is the seeding criteria sent from the section offices to the state.

Should Foothill have been in D-V?

No.

That was a mistake by the Central Section office.

In what seems to be a huge clerical error from the Central Section office seeding given to the state committee, the Trojans were the benefactors.

Foothill beat Bakersfield Christian in the D-IV section finals. The Eagles were pushed into the D-III Southern California playoffs and were ousted in overtime in the opening round.

The Trojans won the section D-IV title and were widely considered at the end of the section playoffs as one of the top-five programs from the Valley entering the state playoffs.

Should Foothill have been placed in D-III or D-IV?

Yes.

But Foothill played the hand it was given.

Would have the Trojans had a shot at bringing home a state title in either of those two division? You bet.

BCHS beat Reedley-Immanuel by 22 points in January and Immanuel lost a nail-biter in the D-IV state finals Saturday afternoon to L.A-Ribet Academy. 

So, yes, fans from Mt. Shasta can feel shorted if they are looking at this as a David vs. Goliath-type situation.

But it’s not, really.

Foothill was a winless program five years ago. There hadn’t been a winning season for more than a decade before Wes Davis arrived in 2014-15.

In his first heading coaching gig, the Liberty graduate quickly changed the culture.

History will remember this team as larger than life figures, just like that team in 1988 and the East High team that won the state D-II title six years later.

When today’s players become dad's and start sitting in the front row at games decades from now, stories will be told about this team and the run to immortality.

Edward "Squid" Turner is a Foothill legacy and was there for an 8-win season as a freshman and now leaves behind a state championship.

Turner was the leader for Foothill. A four-year varsity starter, the senior was the focal point for every defense and made opposing offense second-guess going into the paint against his 7-foot-4 wingspan.

Jaden Phillips, one of the top sophomore guards in the state played like a veteran down the stretch, averaging 23 points per game in the SoCal semifinals, finals and the state championships where he led Foothill with 25 points.

He is also a Foothill legacy. Uncle, Reggie, was also on that 1988 team.

Cesar Valdez played just 11 minutes in the state finals because of matchup changes against Mt. Shasta. But the senior guard made the most of his chances with eight points in the finals, including two key 3-pointers. His first came on the opening possession for the Trojans to calm the nerves of the sharp shooter, and then hit another in the waning moments of the first half after Mt. Shasta cut the lead to 35-31.

Senior transfer Warren Stingley, who never played high school basketball before this season, was a double-double machine all year, continually cleaning up the boards.

Then there was Elijah Seales. The transfer from San Diego is like a linebacker on the hardwood. The senior’s progress throughout the season was memorable.

Seales averaged 15 points a game during the nine playoff games and was always good for at least one crowd-pleasing, thunderous dunk each night.

His signature move was the double-handed cocked-backed dunk that always felt like a move straight from a young Charles Barkley or Shawn Kemp decades ago.

Kern County didn’t have a team play for a basketball state championship in a quarter-century.

The city of Bakersfield loves basketball.

The state playoff run for Foothill became a community event each night.

There was something different about this team.

It had that old-school feel with size, speed, grit and a little bit of that “don’t get in my way or you’ll get run right over” mentality that will be easy for fans for decades to make comparisons of the two state championships for Foothill.

The Trojans played the teams the CIF put before them and ran the gauntlet in the state playoffs with five consecutive double-digit wins.

History will forget the division, but not the champion.

(1) comment

dlc

Nothing but word salad justifying a clerical error and calling those who disagree with the way Foothill was seeded "haters"....now that's a coherent argument.

Weak and sad.

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