One of the largest crowds to fill a high school gymnasium in recent memory got exactly what the fans wanted in a highly-anticipated rematch.
In a game billed as a possible preview of the Central Section Division IV final in three weeks, Foothill was able to please the home fans with a 55-48 victory over Bakersfield Christian on Monday night in front of a standing room-only crowd.
The two teams traded baskets and the lead throughout before Foothill ended the game on a 7-0 run that included a thunderous dunk by Edward "Squid" Turner that brought the crowd to its feet with 1:40 to play. Then Jaden Phillips hit a 3-pointer 62 seconds later to seal the victory for the Trojans.
But this game was so much more.
BCHS (19-6, 8-1) leads the South Yosemite League and Foothill (14-11, 7-2) is a game behind North in the Southeast Yosemite League.
The Eagles beat the Trojans 59-51 in the championship game of the Lloyd Williams/Kern Schools Federal Credit Union Shootout on Dec. 8.
The two are almost assured of both getting top-4 seeds in the D-IV playoffs that begin on Feb. 14.
The crowd, filled with more than just fans from the two schools, wanted a championship game atmosphere, and the two teams provided the entertainment.
“It’s right before the playoffs there and we did need to beat a good team,” Foothill coach Wes Davis said. “They are a great team. They have been all year. It was a regular-season game that had big playoff implications.”
Yes, these two are in D-IV, but the squads don't look the part.
BCHS, led by a 20-point performance by sophomore forward Lendl Henderson, is a savvy group that reached the D-IV finals a season ago.
Adding in senior guard Kadar Waller, who had 14 points, this season has only made the Eagles more explosive.
But on this night, just three days before the end of the regular season, it was the Trojans that put together the all-around team effort.
While Phillips and Turner were quiet in the scoring column in the first half, it was Elijah Seales and Warren Stingley that did the damage underneath for Foothill.
“We really just wanted to beat them again,” Seales said. “We just really needed this win tonight.”
There were 14 lead changes, including six in the fourth quarter.
Waller hit a layup to put the Eagles up 49-48 midway through the fourth, but that was the final bucket for BCHS.
“This gives up momentum going into the playoffs and gives us a better chance to see where we can get to,” Turner said.
It was also a good indication that the Trojans might have just found the right rhythm right before the playoffs.
Seales (11 points) showed his athleticism underneath fighting for rebounds with Ben Yurosek, the standout football player who had double-digit rebounds for the Eagles.
Stingley (12 points, 17 rebounds) was able to capitalize on offensive rebounds and put-backs and Turner, who has three triple-doubles in the past month, had 11 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Then there was Phillips. The lone underclassmen to score for Foothill had eight of his team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter.
“This is an indication of who we are,” Davis said.
But what about the possible rematch at Selland in three weeks?
“It would be great. The atmosphere would be awesome to have it there,” Seales said.