Yorba Linda finishes strong, knocks off Foothill


TUSTIN – Although they are the defending North Hills League champions and ranked in the Orange County top 10, Yorba Linda’s boys basketball team knew it faced a difficult challenge against Foothill.

That’s why Eric Hezmalhalch called it a “big upset” when the 10th-ranked Mustangs pulled out a tight victory.

Isaac Douglass had 21 point and 11 rebounds as Yorba Linda defeated the No. 9 Knights, 62-59, Tuesday in a nonleague game at Foothill High.

Hezmalhalch had 18 points, and Shaun Maeder had 14 points and four 3-pointers for the Mustangs (13-5).

After a 16-point loss to Foothill on their home floor last year, this win was special for the Mustangs.

“It feels great,” Hezmalhalch said. “Obviously, we worked a lot, progressed, and this is a big upset for us. It means a lot to come back and beat them in their home building.”

In a game that was close throughout, the sharp-shooting Mustangs stayed in the game on the strength of eight 3-pointers. In the fourth quarter, Yorba Linda lived at the free-throw line. The Mustangs shot 12 of 16 from the line in the period. Hezmalhalch was 7 of 9.

“This was the last time I was going to play this team,” said Douglass of facing Foothill. “I wanted to make sure that we capitalized on that opportunity. We hit some big free throws down the stretch and got it done.”

Paulo Araujo led the Knights (12-5) with 13 points and three steals. Jacob Sanchez and Lucas Araujo had 11 points apiece, and Connor Stinson and Bobby Garcia each added nine.

Foothill held one-possession leads at the end of each of the first three quarters.

Douglass’ steal and pull-up 3-pointer with 6:10 remaining gave Yorba Linda a 45-44 lead, and the Mustangs held on thanks to their free-throw shooting.

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