SACRAMENTO – In Friday’s CIF boys Division V Championship game at the Golden 1 Center, Foothill-Bakersfield and Mt. Shasta had nearly identical shooting percentages across the board. So it came down to attempts, and Foothill had more of them – from the field and the line – thanks to a 45-35 rebounding edge and a six less turnovers. The result was a 78-66 Foothill victory, the second boys basketball title in school history.
“The team you saw tonight is the team we always envisioned,” Foothill coach Wesley Davis said.
“The theme today was love, and that is what ultimately led us here. We were unselfish with one another, and it’s a beautiful thing.”
Sophomore Jaden Phillips scored 25 points, and senior Elijah Seales had 22 points and eight rebounds for Foothill (24-1), which outdid Mt. Shasta in every quarter except the fourth. Warren Stingly and Edward Turner provided lots of mettle down low. Turner achieved a double-double with 12 points and 11 boards, while Stingly paired 13 rebounds with nine points.
Mt. Shasta (33-2), making its first ever appearance in the CIF State championships, got 29 points from Kaden Riccomini, 13 from his brother Kole Riccomini, and another 10 from Kody Bauman.
“The amount of pressure they were putting on us just made it tough to execute,” Mt. Shasta coach Cliff Blakely said. “The guys worked hard all spring, all summer, and got us here, just came up a little short today. (Seales) penetrating into the paint and causing all kinds of problems for us, and some of the turnovers…the athleticism and the quickness is a little more than we’re used to.”
The most separation the Trojans had against the Bears in the first quarter was five points, the last of this mark at 12-7. With 3:52 left in the second, Turner had an emphatic dunk which signaled the beginning of the end, even as Mt. Shasta never appeared out of it. Foothill led 38-33 at the half, and in the third scored the first eight of the quarter. The Trojans held a 60-46 advantage to start the fourth, and led by double digits most of the rest of the way.
“We’re living in the footsteps of Reggie (referencing Jaden Phillips’s uncle Reggie Phillips, who scored 21 points in the 1988 Division II State Championship game won by Foothill) and all them back then, and we’ll probably be able to hang up another state banner in the gym, and we’ll probably have something to talk about,” Turner said.
“I’ve never had a team like this before,” Stigley remarked. “This is real brotherly love.”
Foothill actually had a poorer shooting percentage from the field, but with 13 more attempts, made five more. At the line, the Trojans had eight more attempts and six more makes. From three-point territory the Bears had a very slight advantage.
Phillips made a living at the charity stripe, converting all 10 of his attempts, while Seales did nearly all his damage from the field, sinking 10 out of 20. Kaden Riccomini had nearly half of his team’s field goal attempts, going 11-for-26. Jett Snure pulled a team-high 10 rebounds.
Mt. Shasta, the top seed out of NorCal, defeated #16 Ripon Christian 89-57, #8 Pierce 69-55, #4 Eastside College Prep 87-79, and #2 Dinuba 80-56 prior to the day’s contest. Foothill was the Southern Region’s #1 seed as well, making it the only game out of 12 in which two #1’s face off, and it’s one of only three cases where a top seed in NorCal is vying for a State title.
Blakely has done great things with this small town’s public school in his seven years on the bench, notching 20 wins in five of those seasons and 19 in each of the other two, with back-to-back Northern Division section championships.
“During the playoffs the support we’ve gotten from the school and the community has just been awesome,” Kaden Riccomini commented. “It’s been standing room only, and it was great to see a bunch of them make the trip down here…they made it an awesome ride for us.”
Davis said it’d been “a tough year” with several players taking a winding road to get to this game.
“We preach character, we preach being mentors to each other,” Davis stated. “We look at it like a holistic child. It’s about learning how to deal with adversity, and that’s what the game of basketball is about.”
And Davis, noting that “good food and good sports” are a couple of things in today’s divisive world that “bring people together,” added “Right now, we just took it out of the refrigerator, when we get on the bus it’s gonna be on the grill, and it’s gonna taste really good. It has finished marinating.”