No. 5 Foothill hands Tustin its first setback


TUSTIN - Justin Davis carried fifth-ranked Foothill for three quarters, and his team rallied around its stout defense late as the Knights defeated No. 6 Tustin, 58-50, Saturday night in a nonleague boys basketball game at Foothill High.

Davis scored a game-high 30 points as the Knights (10-1) battled their way to a seventh consecutive victory.

Foothill handed the Tillers (10-1) their first loss due largely to its strong defense. The Knights held Nick Hornsby and Deondre Bryant, the Tillers’ top-two scorers, to just seven points in the first half.

Kyle Lawson drew the assignment of guarding Hornsby. Hornsby, who signed with Sacramento State, shot just 4 of 24 from the field for a nine points.

“He’s been guarding the other team’s best guy every night,” Knights coach Rusty Van Cleave said. “He’s really matured in that role.”

Foothill opened up a big lead early. The Knights spread the ball around and five scored in the first quarter. A buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Lawson gave the Knights a 16-6 edge after one quarter.

The Tillers made an adjustment in the second quarter, attacking the rim and converting a pair of layups after contact to give themselves 3-point opportunities. Tustin matched its first quarter output on its first two possessions of the second period, but the Tillers were unable to put a dent in the Knights’ lead. Davis scored 10 points in the quarter, and Foothill led, 29-20, at the half.

Davis continued his hot night coming out of the break. He scored 10 points in the third period, making the Tillers pay with a combination of dribble penetration and good free-throw shooting. Davis was true on 16 of 18 free-throw attempts in the game.

Bryant came alive for the Tillers in the third, scoring 10 points as Tustin closed to six entering the final period.

Despite Hornsby’s struggles, the Tillers refused to go away. A Bryant layup with 5:40 left tied it at 48, as the Tillers completed a 10-2 run midway through the fourth quarter.

Jacob Dean followed with a go-ahead layup, and Connor Stevens made good on a pair of 2-point baskets to keep the Knights in front for good.

Davis was proud of his teammates’ ability to come through with the game on the line, saying, “It’s huge. We preach team, and we play collectively.”

Rivalry games bring out the best in some players, and Van Cleave could remember when he was a part of the rivalry growing up.

“It’s a great rivalry,” he said. “You have two teams with local kids. They’re both having great seasons.”

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