AZUSA, CA - Nogales had never won a Southern Section title, until Saturday at Azusa Pacific University. The Nobles defeated Foothill Technology, 78-65, in the Division 5AA championship game.
At just five-foot-six, junior guard Dale Batac exploded for 30 points. Nine came in the first quarter, as Batac shot three-of-four from behind the three-point line. Nogales jumped out to a 15-7 lead, and kept nailing outside shots throughout the first half. Batac sparked a 21-point Nogales second quarter, hitting another three, and Michael Romero shot three-for-three.
Foothill Tech trailed 36-15 by halftime, but came out string in the third quarter and only lost the period by one point. Trey Jackson of Foothill Tech drove to the rim on the first possession of the second half, but Keanu Baluyot fired right back with a three-pointer for Nogales. After the teams traded possessions, Batac hit a three, scored a layup and stole the ball right back for his seventh straight point.
Nogales took a 53-31 lead into the fourth quarter, just minutes away from sealing a championship. Matthew Fraizer started the quarter off strong for Nogales, scoring at the rim plus a foul. Foothill Tech went to a full court trapping defense, but Nogales continued to slash and score.
Trailing 65-50 with just over two minutes remaining, Jack Vielbig and Jackson hit back-to-back threes to pull Foothill Tech within 10 points. Unfortunately for the Dragons, Nogales sunk free-throw after free-throw down the stretch, in the bonus, to closeout any form of a comeback.
Batac finished shooting 8/15 from the floor, hitting five threes and nine free-throws for Nogales. “In this game, the grind really paid off,” he said. “From top to bottom, we’ve all been putting in work every single day in practice and it all paid off today.”
Frazier added 16 points on 11 shots with four assists. Romero and Brandon Nguyen scored nine each.
Senior Colin Vallance was the high scorer for Foothill Tech with 16 points, knocking down six-of-seven free-throws in the process. Cameron Strain posted 14 points and eight rebounds. Jackson contributed 12 points and 10 boards.
“Needless to say, the basketball gods probably weren’t on our side throughout that first half,” head coach Dean Prophet said.